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Don’t believe the hype

Molly advises an aspiring IT worker to lower salary expectations a bit.

Dear Molly: I am in the process of training for my A+ certification. I like the travel and freedom of the field technician. What other certifications should I consider that would offer the same or similar job prospects? I am looking for a job/career that will give me the earning potential of $65,000 to $90,000 after about five years or so. I have also been considering going to community college for an associate degree.

Molly says: Well, here’s the good news. With the A+ and either an MSCE or CISCO certification and a little experience, getting a job as a network field technician or IT troubleshooter at large is a real possibility. You may also want to tuck in a Certified Network Professional (CNP) certification from the Network Professional Association, just to round out the mix. You might consider joining the local chapter while you’re doing your training to get an early start on networking your way to a job.

Now the not-so-good news: The salary range you’ve specified isn’t realistic in the time frame you’ve outlined. Forget the hype and think about it. The starting salary for a new network technician with zero to three years of experience is about $30,000, according to what I hear from people through the column and my own research. Stay in a job about three years and you’ll get maybe an aggregate raise of about $6,000 over that time frame. Jumping from a job that pays $36,000–even $40,000–to a job that pays $65,000 isn’t reality. There has to be a step or two in between, and each step would take at least a year.

You also don’t have a four-year college degree, judging from the statement you made about community college. That also will hold you back from moving into the salary range you want, so set your initial earning expectations a little lower and plan on night school to get a four-year degree in an IT subject or maybe business. Pick business if you want to go into management at some point.

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]

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