If you're an IT pro, consider yourself among the lucky and well compensated.

It's a Wonderful Life

If you're an IT pro, consider yourself among the lucky and well compensated.

My beloved took me on a field trip to one of those drive-thru safari parks. The animals had it pretty good: plenty to eat, time to romp around; form focus groups; envision, plan, and develop boilerplate code; whip up an enterprise architecture; all that sort of stuff. I was envious for a moment, until I realized that 1) they don’t have Fabio, 2) they have no life other than their job, and 3) they don’t get paid.

Which brings us to the topic of this month’s issue, the annual Salary Survey, a.k.a. "How @#!$-ing Lucky Are We, Anyway?"

This is not to say that life’s a bed of roses in MCPville. We do work for a living, and many of us work hard (Auntie hopes you’re in this group). Unless you’re a Microsoft Certified Visionary (only five or so in the U.S.), you’re probably spot-welded to your cell phone and beeper.

The easy out is to say that we’re victims of our own success, but that’s not accurate at all. What we do—systems development, architecture, programming, support—has become as essential to the health of most businesses as balanced books or a really good holiday party. Look at what happened when ILOVEYOU hit. All it did was foul up some computers, right?

A decade ago, it wouldn’t have been too big a deal, but in The New Millennium, that virus was as malicious and destructive as a local school board election. Did you work on the virus cleanup or any others since then? You earned your nickel that week.

So if you do your work well, you likely get a good raise annually, and perhaps a good bonus, and maybe some options along the way. Enjoy it; you’ve earned it.

Just don’t get smug about your success. You could be doing the same quality of fine work in a factory job and get your butt handed to you when another company paying 10 cents less an hour underbids yours. You could be in a not-for-profit or a public service job and be told when you get your three percent annual, “Hey, that’s what everyone in this business is getting.”

Don’t think that IT is the whole world. Remember that your envious salary and perks are partly a function of a labor shortage. Remove that shortage and we’re all smiling when we get our three percent.

Don’t believe me? Then consider that bit about the hours you work. How often can you say “No” to the evenings and the weekends? In most workplaces, the thought process you know is running through the mind of your customer or employer is, “I pay them all that damn money. I don’t care if they have a life outside the job—they’re going to fix this or I’ll bring in someone else who can.” We’re as much pieces of meat as the office temp; we’re just more scarce and higher paid.

Do you think we’d fork over the ticket price to the safari park if the animals weren’t so rare? If Fabio and I lived next to a pack of baboons, we wouldn’t pay good money to have them jumping all over the Land Cruiser, leaving their paw prints and developing disaster recovery scenarios. Fabio would probably have them over for touch-football, and Auntie would be teaching them how to mix a batch of frozens.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.

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