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How-To IT Career Guide: 7 Critical Strategies, From Getting Started To Semiretiring

Driven by our salary survey data, a look at make-or-break moments in a career.

Move Up, But Stay On The Tech Track
Managers definitely pull down more, but there's good money in the right staff skills.

77%
Not interested in going into the management ranks in order to move up the career ladder? That will make it harder to earn the big bucks, but there's still good money to be made on the techie track.

It's true managers make considerably more on average--no staff skill category hits a six-figure median compensation package, while 11 manager roles do, the InformationWeek Salary Survey finds. But there are five staff job functions with median compensation above $90,000: enterprise application integration ($95,000); data mining/data warehousing and Web infrastructure (both $93,000), ERP ($92,000), and wireless infrastructure ($90,000). Those median pay packages are similar to the median pay of managers who describe their job functions as data center ($97,000), telecom, and groupware/e-mail ($90,000).

67%
Staffers who want tech training
46%
Managers who want tech training
The high-end tech track isn't easy, though. "The technical landscape is littered by hot technology that grew cold," says Steve Creason, a former Accenture consultant, who's now an assistant professor of MIS at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota.

People on the tech track would be wise to build ties with business colleagues beyond IT. Asked which skills they have, 80% of managers say, "collaborate with internal stakeholders," while just 64% of staff do. Whether your goals are as staff or manager, that's a skill to master.

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