Need help on carerr path options

the-one1

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I've been with an outsourced IT company (we do IT work for other small businesses) for about 8 years now. It's a small company (12 employees, I'm the ONLY hardware/Windows/everything tech). There used to be another guy that worked with me and we covered each others skills pretty well. But he has since left and now it's just me.
I'm contemplating leaving for greener pastures as I don't think I get paid as much as I'm worth and for what I do/can do.

I'll list what I do/have done and help point me in the right direction:
1. Built from the ground up single and dual Windows Terminal servers from Win2003-2008R2 with Domain controller.
2. Built from the ground up VMware ESXi host servers with SAN, then put the above into it.
3. Configure, deploy and manage all routers and VPNs at all customers sites
4. Configure and manage all backups on all Windows servers at all sites
5. Manage and repair laser printers at all sites.
6. Configure, deploy and manage all PCs/laptops at all sites.
7. Manage all Windows servers at all sites.
8. Manage all Windows related servers and computer at our own company
9. Configured and deployed Exchange from version 2003,SBS,2010,2013
10. You name it, I do it, except for *nix
*Note: All the above are done single handily by me.


We have a guy that used to do my job but has been delegated to sales since my employment. Even if he was to help, I couldn't trust him to do simple tasks such as adding a user into Active Directory or deleting a file from a user's desktop. Plus customers don't like to talk to him as he injects to much personal talk and nothing gets done correctly and they all call/email me instead as they know it will get fixed.
He'll sell these systems and say "we'll install them" but I end up with %100 percent of the work. And most of the work can't be done from 9-5. They are after hours or weekend things. So basically I'm on my own.

I have about 34 accounts I keep up with daily to make sure things work as they are suppose to.
Franky I'm tired. Some days I rather be outside cutting the grass or diggin a hole in 100*F weather.

I have my AA, and A+ and Network+. That's it. Everything else has been hands on and learned on the job by me from hours of research, test,some more research, more testing....etc..
I'm good at what I do and can be better.

Right now I get a base salary, no overtime pay.
I'm in MN if that helps

Help

You can reply to this post or PM me directly.
Thanks.
 
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jameslr

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It might help your sanity and stress level if you pick one of the aforementioned skills / activities and build your resume around highlighting those abilities while mentioning your versatility. This way employers who are looking for someone with your skill set will know what they're getting. Your experience will qualify you for a myriad of systems administration positions or even analyst positions at a firm.

You just need to find what you like to do, and sell it. Do you like the Desktop stuff better than the server stuff or are you more at home in a datacenter environment? Do you prefer being in a position where you are constantly moving or prefer to sit? Is Exchange your bread and butter, or virtualization? You can put all of those things on a resume but you can't proclaim expertise in all. Be truthful, but really try to find what it is you like to do best in the list you made.

Having a direction and clear goal in mind speaks miles for you as a candidate. A well thought out objective statement and cover letter is what you need to work on. And a small word of advice...leave any bitterness from past/present employers where they belong....with the past/present employers. This will turn an interview sour very quickly if they catch wind that you're disgruntled. Don't talk negatively about past co-workers. There are so many things that go into this I could write forever, but the most important aspect is a clear goal of what you want to do.

Right now Virtualization and Cloud are pretty hot. I can't speak for Exchange. I fear email is one of those services that is soon going to be outsourced by just about everyone, so I personally wouldn't focus on core services like that, unless you're wanting to become a consultant that migrates people out of systems like that. Network Admin is lucrative, but you better bring some big certifications to the table or at least have a solid understanding of recent technology. Posting your salary info on the internet is also a pretty bad idea, just sayin'.

Just my $.02.
 

mikeblas

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What's your specific question? With what issue do you need help?
 

the-one1

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Thanks jameslr. You're right about finding a niche. Right now I'm a jack of all trades. I need to focus on one or two things.


mikeblas: I should have put my question in there somewhere :D. Basically I want to know if I'm being paid my worth for what I'm doing and if not, should I go find greener pastures.
 
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jimh425

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39K might be a good wage or not in MN.

Check out Glassdoor to get some idea of other salaries. You might be able to make more in a different location or by doing remote work or traveling. It's good to look from time to time to see what is out there. You might find that you are having it pretty good, or find that you need some certifications or training before moving.

Your best option is probably to go to work for a company that is larger if you are simply wanting to make more money. You don't say how long you've been working there, but that could factor in about whether it is time to move or not.
 

jameslr

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Even living in the frozen wastelands of MN it's not a great salary for what your skills are. You can bring in more money for sure, but at what cost? If you like your job then stay where you're at and ask for a raise. If you're unhappy where you are currently I don't think you have a lot to lose when it comes to finding another job. I'm not sure where in MN you are, but surely there are opportunities out there. Do you have a family?
 

the-one1

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Sure more money would be better, it's the amount of work per money that I'm not liking.
The boss is great, company is great, it's just I have too much on my shoulders and too many responsibilities. If I was do keel over or something happened to me, all my clients would be in a world of hurt.
I do have a family, so they are priority on what I decide to do.

I have requested an upcoming meeting with the boss to discuss my options (raise potential), qualms and such.

Reading through the IT resume thread has given me hope on how to better myself, it has taught me that I'm not THAT dumb nor am I THAT smart. :D

Also hearing from guys like you who are in this industry helps tremendously.
 

dgingeri

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Certs. That's the big thing. I have less experience than you do at server level stuff, and had nearly none when I got my current job, but my certs got me this job as a test lab admin. I also have no college degree. Because of the lack of degree, I can't be given a salaried position, so I actually get overtime. If you're really only making $39k, then I have you beat.

First, I'd advise going to the VCP class ($2500, but well spent) for a week. It's boring, covers most of what you probably already know about ESXI, but it's the only way to get the permission to take the VCP exam. Once that is done, get a book ($60) to cover the rest of the VCP exam, study it, and take the cert ($225) test. Total bill: $2785. Payback: about $5k/year.

Second, I'd advise Microsoft certs. Since the 2008 exams are expiring the end of this month, you're going to have to go for the 2012 exams. Microsoft certs are the easiest of all certs. MS has tried to make them harder, but all it does is trivialize the actual necessary info. The 2008 exams were all about minutiae, and all the most commonly useful info, such as building a DC or DNS server or even group policy objects, weren't even covered. They're pretty much a joke. However, at $60 per book with practice exam and $150 each, they'll also make the biggest difference in your ability to get an interview and get better pay. A full MCSE is worth about $20k/year and would triple your chances to get an interview. (A funny trick to do on a resume is state "I'm one test away from getting my MCSE." but the HR software will just detect that your resume has the "MCSE" key word and pop your resume up for further review. In many big companies, any resume that doesn't have certain key words will automatically get dropped without any human even seeing it.) Hyper-V certs also have a big impact, especially if they're the new 2012 certs.

Third, CCNA if you can handle it. Cisco certs have a big impact as well. Just including "Cisco Nexus" on my resume as some of the equipment I've worked with, and not even having a CCNA, got me three interviews. Granted, I got beat out by someone with a CCNA on all three, but just getting a foot in the door is a big advantage. If another position opens in any of those companies, they'll probably call on me for another interview.

It's also important to keep the certs updated, and quickly. I'm studying my MS 2012 certs now. I missed the cycle on getting my MS 2008 exams, and it is costing me big time. I'm trying to get the new MCSE 2012 just to get back in the game now. My company has become a little unstable lately, so I've been searching for a job before the axe comes down on me. I've had several interviews, but not gotten anything specifically because I didn't keep my certs updated. They told me so.

Certs, certs, and more certs. That's what makes IT go around. That's what makes people take you seriously. They pay off in spades.
 

mikeblas

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It's surprising to hear someone say that certs pay off. They're really meaningless -- they're just indicate you tested well, and don't show any level of experience or expertise. All they really do is generate money for the vendor and test proctors (and the authors, and the training companies, and ...)

39K seems pretty low, but there might be some market variance. On the other hand, you've not been very specific about your roles. For example, are "all servers" three servers, or three thousand servers? Are you "managing" the servers by setting them up and forgetting about them, or doing other chores?

You should be able to figure out if your salary is fair or not by estimating what value you're adding to the company -- to the people around you and to the business purpose of the firm. If you can't, then it suggests that you don't know enough about the business or its customers to pro-actively find tasks that will let you add substantial value. If you can, then you should be able to put together a pretty good, rational argument for to support a wage and/or level increase.
 

Mackintire

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The point was certs get you past HR and in front of a human.

Once you are in the interview you need to show that you can perform, and that you're not an idiot. But if you never land the interview because someone in HR filtered you out.... you're screwed.
 

longblock454

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The point was certs get you past HR and in front of a human.

In most places Certs will not get you past HR without a 4 year degree. We don't even hire electricians without degrees (2-year) now.

To the OP:

Absolutely no offense, but if you're only working the minimum of 40 hours, you're not overworked!

I spent 13 years working 60 hours a week, received numerous 10% raises, mid year raises on top of it. Then I quit and went out of my own!
 

mikeblas

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Because most people don't have certs, and still get interviews and jobs, I think your claim is easily disproved.
 

Nicklebon

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Certs can and do help differentiate but the right degree is a must. To even get an interview for a technical position in my division you need a BS from an ABET accredited program. Beyond that they are interested in CISSP and CCNP or better certs.
 

Liger88

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It's surprising to hear someone say that certs pay off. They're really meaningless -- they're just indicate you tested well, and don't show any level of experience or expertise. All they really do is generate money for the vendor and test proctors (and the authors, and the training companies, and ...)


And a 2 or 4 year college degree isn't meaningless? Both are useless pieces of paper that unfortunately are needed to advance yourself further this day and age, with college being the incredibly more expensive of the two. It isn't impossible to land the job you're looking for and make great pay, but its fairly difficult.

Certifications do have a pretty high level of the rip-off effect, but thats not to say they are completely worthless because the same can be said about 40 million college students going for a degree that isn't a Masters or PhD and yet statistics show they have a much higher chance of success than those without degrees. There are a ton of grown adults with 10-20 years experience just at the little community college I'm at taking high level tech classes just to get a degree in that specific field or certification through the college itself. With the economy in the shape that its in, the pool of very high level backgrounds fighting for less pay has skyrocketed depending on your area. You need and X-Factor to stand out above the rest, plain and simple.
 

longblock454

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When all else is equal, Certs can nudge you above your competition.

Also, most companies have some education incentives, get your employer to pay for 1-2 Certs per year.
 

mikeblas

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And a 2 or 4 year college degree isn't meaningless?
I didn't say anything about college degrees.

Certifications do have a pretty high level of the rip-off effect, but thats not to say they are completely worthless because the same can be said about 40 million college students going for a degree that isn't a Masters or PhD and yet statistics show they have a much higher chance of success than those without degrees.
Are there similar statistics for certifications? Do you think the statistics mean anything, in either case?

You need and X-Factor to stand out above the rest, plain and simple.
There are many other differentiators than degrees and certifications.
When all else is equal, Certs can nudge you above your competition.
Your statement is tautological: when everything else is equal, any difference sets you apart of the competition.
 
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Liger88

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The point I was making was without some sort of paper background it can be very challenging breaking into the field you're going towards. At the end of the day those pretty pieces of papers (certs/degree's) help you get the interview and the rest is always up to the person and any kind of experience background they have.

There is too much beating around the bush in most professional fields these days that it can take 5-10 years before you're finally doing what you set out to do and lacking both education/experience makes that even more difficult. If you got the experience you may not always need the degree or certification other than self-gratification purposes.

In many cases when someone has the experience, but no educational background, they are sent back by their employer to get said certifications and solidify their skills professionally, or just to look good on the books. That's what I'm personally experiencing in my area where over half the people working toward IT Certifications and College Degrees were sent back because they lacked the educational background. The courses are a joke for these people, but they're being held back from the job opening they want or promotion because they joined a tech company back in the late 90's early 2000's when education requirements weren't really necessary so long as you could work a computer. They gained decades of experience since then using that to ride new jobs, careers, and positions, but in this down economy the guy with the highest education and most experience seems to be winning.

Of course this may be different depending on your area, but that's currently where we're at here.

[EDIT] To directly answer the OP, yeah 39K does seem low for the amount of time you've been with the company and work you've done. The question is whether or not the employer has the ability to pay you more. I'd personally look for a better job just to see whats out there and simultaneously ask for a raise laying out what you've done for them thus far over the past 8 years. Even for MN that pay almost seems entry level more than anything. I guess what I'm trying to say is whether or not the amount of work is worth the lower pay. Some people are happy doing a easier job and getting paid less than what their skills can get them. If you're saying no the job is tough and the stress is high, then its time to get re-evaluate your options by asking for a raise or moving on.
 
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jameslr

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To directly answer the OP, yeah 39K does seem low for the amount of time you've been with the company and work you've done. The question is whether or not the employer has the ability to pay you more. I'd personally look for a better job just to see whats out there and simultaneously ask for a raise laying out what you've done for them thus far over the past 8 years. Even for MN that pay almost seems entry level more than anything. I guess what I'm trying to say is whether or not the amount of work is worth the lower pay. Some people are happy doing a easier job and getting paid less than what their skills can get them. If you're saying no the job is tough and the stress is high, then its time to get re-evaluate your options by asking for a raise or moving on.

Pretty much this. To the OP's point of wanting to do less work or have less responsibility for the same pay - that's not likely to happen until you specialize. The more specialized you are the more likely you're able to work on the things you want to work on or are hired to work on. This brings positives and negatives. Specialization can run you out of a job if you're not careful. It all depends on what you specialize in. Unfortunately given then nature of the current economy - you may not have the ability in your area to find what you're looking for. This may require you to relocate. Not the end of the world by any means.
 

the-one1

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[EDIT] To directly answer the OP, yeah 39K does seem low for the amount of time you've been with the company and work you've done. The question is whether or not the employer has the ability to pay you more. I'd personally look for a better job just to see whats out there and simultaneously ask for a raise laying out what you've done for them thus far over the past 8 years. Even for MN that pay almost seems entry level more than anything. I guess what I'm trying to say is whether or not the amount of work is worth the lower pay. Some people are happy doing a easier job and getting paid less than what their skills can get them. If you're saying no the job is tough and the stress is high, then its time to get re-evaluate your options by asking for a raise or moving on.

That's exactly the way I see it.
The amount of work and type of work I do is too much for the pay I get (me thinks). Just wanted to clarify it to myself.
Thanks to you guys, I got the nerve to approach management about this and am waiting for a response from the meeting we had.
 

RESTfulADI

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I have no idea why people always recommend to find a niche and specialize. Specialists are only good while you need them, you hire them on a temp basis and when the project is done you get rid of them. Obviously I am generalizing and many specialists do just fine but don't underestimate the importance of being well rounded and developing sales skills in addition to geeking out on tech. Remember, no matter how good you become on a particular tech (Cisco, EMC, Windows, etc), chances are there is always someone who is better than you around the corner. Finding someone who knows many different aspects of IT well and how they all work together is much harder. I resisted the people who told me to find a niche and being a jack of all trades allowed me to get into consulting.
 
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dgingeri

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The reason certs help is the same reason a degree helps: authority. They can be verified with someone who is supposedly an authority in the subject.

I do take offense from those who say they're worthless, though. There are a lot of things that are needed that are taught when studying for certs and/or a degree. Most of it is worthless. (What computer security expert needs to write an academic paper, with sources and in a specific format, while on the job? College English classes are completely worthless except for the part where they teach you how to write the papers for your other classes, supposedly.) However, there are specific things that few people take the time to learn that you do tend to learn.

Example: While studying for my 2008 exams (that I never took because I couldn't get the time from work), I learned a lot about both setting up group policy objects and setting up LDAP. Now, these are two things that are very, very rarely used. Most companies set up their group policies and edit them about half a dozen times per year. The initial setup only takes an hour or so and is only done once every several years. LDAP is similar. The admin sets it up for a specific service/ appliance/ application and edits it to add authentication accounts a couple times per year. Most admins will never deal with it at all. However, knowing this is a reassurance to the employer that if these highly necessary but rarely touched parts of the company malfunction, this certified person is likely able to deal with it.

I still have no idea what else college English comp classes are worth in the real world. I also keep failing them while getting A's in everything else when I go to college. I've been to 5 colleges now, and keep running into the wall that is English Comp 2, where professors mark down papers 30-40% with comments like "I don't like how this argument is formulated." (After 15 years, I still don't know what that means!) So, don't ask me about college. I still manage to make more than the typical 40 year old college grad, though. :) However, I have noticed that college grads to tend to stick with things and keep working to fix a problem better than non-college grads. I believe perseverance and character are something taught in college that aren't part of a specific class or major.

My point is that certs and college do have value, but it may not be obvious.
 

mikeblas

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Sorry you're offended, but neither a degree nor a certification deliver authority.
 

RESTfulADI

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I always thought of certifications as taxes levied by the big vendors for letting you eat the little fish, with the added benefit of creating an army of loyal acolytes who spent a lot of time and sometimes money learning the products making them much less likely to jump ship and support a competitor.
 
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