Through the Looking Glass: Raises and How to Get One

Data not published within this year's salary survey points to modest raises expected in the coming year and plans for new jobs.

This year's Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine salary survey, available online at, states that 56 percent of MCPs expect to receive an increase in compensation this year. What it doesn't provide is information by certification about what size of raise that equates to. Here, we'll provide details about the size of those raises by certification title as well as additional information we couldn't squeeze into the original report. Shortly, we'll follow up with information about salaries by size of company. What you don't know about compensation can cost you!

According to the more than 6,500 respondents to this year's salary survey, you expect raises, but they're not in the double digits. Here's what they look like by credential:

Who Expects Raises?

Interestingly, one out of five people expects to obtain those raises by changing jobs. By certification title, here are the percentages who say they've already moved or expect to move to a new company some time this year:

How Many Plan to Change Jobs?

To read the 2003 Salary Survey, go to

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Aug 27, 2003 Jarod Bakersfield

Russ, I agree with you and much more San Diego is a very nice place to live.

Wed, Aug 27, 2003 Russ San Diego

Wow, I've wondered if I should consider gettin' some paper on my name, but I'm not sure after reading the majority of these posts, which are overall mixed. I was in the right place at the right time and learned UNIX some 13 years ago. Today I'm making a very good salary in a position I can do in 40hrs a week with a boss who allows flex time and incredible benefits. I am sure there are folks out there with more knowledge than myself, but my proven worth is in my accomplishments, and in my ability to work with just about anyone. PEOPLE SKILLs and INTEGRITY. Hard to sell, but if your prospective employer can sense that you have it, you might get the job with no paper - I did. Will I get some? Sure, might be a good thing especially since the company will pay for it, I just have to make the time! I praise God for orchestrating the unique circumstances that gave me a leg up in every one of my last 4 positions over folks with more paper than I, and from what I'm told, it was the interview that did it. Learn to interview well, it's at least as important as the paper you carry, if not much more!! Good luck everyone!

Mon, Aug 25, 2003 K Delaware

Certs are nice to let the employers know you have a minimum level of skills, but I know many paper certified people who I would not hire because they lack the people skills or hands on skills required in the corporate market. I have 15 years of hands on and 5 years since I earned my MCSE (NT 4) and changed companies. I was making mid 50's prior to the move and I am currently making high 70's at a large company. You do need the hands on experience! Employers will look for experience and will ask you what you have done (major projects, etc.). They need to know that you will earn what you are asking for in cost savings, productivity, etc.

Fri, Aug 22, 2003 Anonymous Atlanta,GA

The best advise I've seen so far in all of the comments, is to SPECIALIZE! I was originally a "Paper MCSE"; part of the crowd in the mid 90's. I needed to change careers because of an injury. At the time I started studying for my MCSE, I didn't know how to save a file in Word!...6 months later, I was an MCSE (NT4.0). Got my first job with a small company; made a change to a BIG company in 9 months; worked for just over two years and was laid off! I was "out" for over a year! In the interim, I did ANYTHING to pay the bills; but I did not stop contacting my old cronies. Eventually, a contract position opened up...through an old co-worker. THAT position eventually led to a permanent position; all because of a niche. I developed a very specific skill set, that was needed by my new company. This new job is the best I've had in my LIFE; and I'm in my mid-forties! It also pays the most I've EVER made. hang in there guys, (and gals), there IS a pot at the end of the rainbow...DON"T GIVE UP!

Fri, Aug 22, 2003 Jarod Bakersfield

John, Im not sure if thats true. I know some people who work as network admin and theyre making a living you know? But like I said on my previous posting - theres a lot of people getting into computer fields that dont have proper education. They just got certifications and work as network admins, DBA and whatever. In result, there are too many people applying for those jobs and cant do the job correctly. For instance, a 4th grade teacher who took and pass the network certification and then become a network admin to a bank. Sounds scary? It is to me.

Fri, Aug 22, 2003 John Oakland

Jarod, thanks for the reply and yes I am planning to make a switch to become a developer. Although Im very close to a promotion as a network administrator, Im starting realize that there's no money in the this field either. I hear UNIX, SAP, Oracle, DBA are where the $$ is at.

Thu, Aug 21, 2003 Jarod Bakersfield

John, why HelpDesk? Youre in the Northern part of CA - you should get into the real action which is programming. Im sure there are still programming jobs out there. Sad to say that most big companies out source most of their projects to China and India. I mean dont get me wrong - there are good programmers out there but we need those jobs here in US.

Thu, Aug 21, 2003 John Oakland, CA

I just graduated with a B.S. in Information Systems a year ago and got a job 6 months later at a HelpDesk making 36k a year. Is this too little or what? I have an MCP, CompTIA A, and less than 1 year of internship experience. How much can I expect to get paid in one more year?

Wed, Aug 20, 2003 Jarod Bakersfield CA

I completely agree with James: Go read his posting on 8/8/03.

Wed, Aug 20, 2003 Jarod Bakersfield CA

I hate to break some eggs around here, but those certifications wont probe anything that youre an expert on those areas. Im a client server programmer for 5 years now with my BS Computer Science degree on my belt. I bumped into few certified programmers, DBAs and Systems Administrators who just dont know what theyre doing. Yah, they passed the exams for those certifications - but no know how at all. Its better if you wont take any short cuts and go to proper schooling where Ph.D teachers are giving you the solid foundation of learning.

Mon, Aug 18, 2003 Seansabian Chicago

I believe that the IT industry has changed a lot in a few short years. We must strive to adapt to those changes. We need to be strategic in our thinking with regard to our careers. I would like to share my approach to IT. 1. Be as well rounded as possible. I have a background in industrial technology. Over the last three years, I have repaired my firm's ice machine, dishwasher, airconditioning system and the refrigerator. I saved the company a small fortune in service calls alone. 2. Take advantage of all company sponsored benefits. I used the tuition reimbursement to help finance my graduate degreee. I recently finished an MBA with a concentration in Information Systems. The degree is paying off already because I got a gig teaching A+ at a local college. The gig pays $245 a week and I get to reinforce my IT knowlegde for free. 3. I only certify on the products my employer uses. My firm is going to rollout Win2k later this year, so I certified on Win2k Pro this past May. Most of my users request help using Microsoft Office, so I have been working on the Micosoft Office Specialist Master certification this summer. 4. You got to get out and talk to people. Find out what is going on in IT in your home town. Keep an eye out for an opportunity that is right for you. Remember that most employers are looking for the right employee for their culture not necessarily a tech guru. In conclusion, what ever your circumstances, make up in your mind what you want to do, where you want to go, set a goal, make a plan and work it. You'll probably accomplish your goal before you know it. If you would like to comment then CC my email address. I welcome all comments. : )

Sun, Aug 17, 2003 Anonymous Vancouver

I hold three premium Microsoft certifications, MCSD-MCDBA-MCSE, in addition to a two-year credential plus several years of development experience, and I can't even get an interview, never mind a job. I can't see any evidence at all that these certifications have any value whatsoever.

Wed, Aug 13, 2003 Anonymous NYC

I'm an MCSE(win2k) and CCNA, only 3 years experience (yes, career changer), and although employed, I have to find a new situation pronto! The job market has dryed up and shrivled to almost nothing. Before the Iraq war I at least interviewed with 6 companies, after....nothing. Companies are interviewing 10-12 people for open positions these days, competition is stiff.

As for certifications, I could, with relatively small effort, get a MCDBA (which seems to be hot), but what good would it do? I have no SQL experience to put on my resume, and no SQL server here at work to play with.

Tue, Aug 12, 2003 Martin Australia

Fixing printers - they can't outsource that!

Tue, Aug 12, 2003 Marsha Illinois

With regard to jobs going overseas, it would make sense to concentrate in an area that requires a person to be on-site!

Tue, Aug 12, 2003 Martin Australia

I hate to tell you guys, but getting a decent job is all about "soft skills", not the number of certs on your resumes. Tips - no-one cares about MCP or MCSA. Trust me. MCSE is minimum these days. Don't plaster your resume with cert logos, it looks really unprofessional. Keep it short (4 pages max) and to the point. Stress your achievements in terms of dollars saved. As for specialisation, that's fine until that skill is no longer in demand. We used to have loads of Cisco guys. The demand has dropped and so has the number of Cisco guys. I believe being multi-disciplined is a better long-term bet. It helps you see the "big picture" as well. So for example, if you are know Exchange try and learn sendmail as well, many companies use both. It will differentiate you from the pack.

Mon, Aug 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I got an MS degree in Computer Science with 7 years experience in IT. I am MCSE in NT & 2K, CCNP and CNA. I have been unemployment for years. Don't even think about raise.

Mon, Aug 11, 2003 Ben Nevade

Byte me, Jody. =) (just kidding)

Mon, Aug 11, 2003 Jody M Anonymous

Just Graduated college! I have just received the MCP certification. I am one test away from getting my MCSA and no job in site!!!! You Gotta love the Houston IT job market!!

Sat, Aug 9, 2003 Underemployed NYC

It took me 6 months to triple my income in 2000 managing technology at a big bank. I now work at a mall for $12hr with no benefits. I became a casuality of reorganization, 8 weeks after I relocated to NYC within my company. After a year of fruitless IT job searching in NY, you can now find me at the mall. Do I sound bitter? No, I am not available to relocate to India if you are interested. - MCP,
A plus experienced trainer.

Fri, Aug 8, 2003 joeyfong concord, ca

I have absolutey no Certs to speak of. I manage 7 Win2K servers, 35 desktops, 15 remote users, a Definity pbx, a Checkpoint firewall, 40 digital phone sets, and last but not least.....35 HUMANS! I make $75k because I can handle multiple projects and systems for my company. My future is pretty stable, as my company can truly do more with less. I am not 'tooting my own horn', hardly; I am sure have lots to still learn. The point is that by being multidimentional, I am relied upon by my company on a daily business. Yes it is stressfull, but I plan to retire from the same company I started with 10 years ago.

Fri, Aug 8, 2003 Jim Anonymous

All of this is interesting. I'm an MCSE in 2000 with a BA in CIS and over 12 years in IT ranging from basic help desk to network design to consulting and I'm only in the mid 50's. Since I'm told I should consider myself lucky to have a job, I've started work on my MBA. I see no reason I should be where I'm at so I have to stay ambitious. It's the only way.

Fri, Aug 8, 2003 James Anonymous

First off Anonymous with the Young white male comment the promotion thing has nothing to do with skin color so get that out of your head.

Second there is so many MCSE's in this job market now its rediculous the certification has become an absolute joke to many employers now-a-days. I have seen them even look at someone with an MCSE and think "hmmm MCSE i bet hes an idiot". Microsoft made the test too easy and the brain dumps didnt help much until they change something the microsoft certs wont carry any weight in todays job market which is dying fast. A major problem is when a job opens it may be a $80kyear job but theres always someone out there that will do it for $40k just so they can get a paycheck. Its not employers taking advantage it US as IT people cutting each others throats.

Fri, Aug 8, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I know many like to play with the latest network toys and run things like THEIR kingdom, but don't overlook basic skills and support work. Printer skills are useful. I am at 50K with "just" hardware certs mainly. No degree. But I do scut work when asked. Or without being asked. With (not much) no bad attitude. Many network folks can't diagnose hardware worth a crap. What do you think servers and network infrastructure are? And if you let your people skills go sour, you won't be kept or promoted. Granted the ecomony is bad, but I have been in this biz for years and it never ceases to amaze me how young white males tend to be promoted who have almost no hardware or basic people and business skills. But many don't stay because sooner or later a major glitch occurs that they can't blame on the vendors or users. Think I am being harsh? Then maybe you see yourself. Change those things. And to those of you who DO have these skills and more, please hang in there. It saddens me when folks tie their personal worth to a job. Please keep your self worth no matter what happens. Find a way to help a business and bring that solution to them. They would be fools not to listen. My god, when I started out how many doors did I have to knock on? How long would I only have a three figure bank account? How many doors will be knocked on in the future? But it makes you stronger. Stay true to yourselves and remember that things happen when they are supposed to and you are all damned valuable human beings or you wouldn't be reading these forums or caring at all.

Fri, Aug 8, 2003 Ben Nevada

Make the transition from programmer to software engineer in a shop with a mature software engineering development process. If they sell alot of enterprise applications using distributed architecture, you're super-hard to replace b/c the training a new employee on the systems costs too much. If you are experienced in programming, move into management. I know, it's easier said than done, but it is among the directions guys like us need to take.
MCSA MCDBA A+ Net+ Project+ and alot of experience. =)

Thu, Aug 7, 2003 Anonymous RTP, NC

Funny you mentioned outsourcing overseas. We just outsourced some development efforts overseas. Talk about cheap labor. A seasoned java developer only makes like 9 bucks an hour overseras in India, while a seasoned java developer over here in the states would make in the 30-50 range. How are we suppose to compete with that?

Thu, Aug 7, 2003 Anonymous L.A.

All I can say is that things are very tough and they are going to get worse I believe. With all the jobs starting to flow overseas to cheaper labor pools. Every raise that individuals recieve become double edged swords. Yes it's more money for you but it's more incentive for the employer to look at laying you off and outsourcing to cheaper labor such as in India or Russia. I am in that boat and it does concern me. Although now I believe that certifications are more of a way of securing job security and less a way to get you in the door somewhere unless you have multiple platform experience plus knowledge of at least more than one specialty. I just would like to see how things will be in five years. Since most college computer majors that I know are no longer pursuing that field since the market's average pay is a joke. - Worried in L.A. MCSE, MCDBA, CCNP, CCDA, Project (plus)

Thu, Aug 7, 2003 Anonymous RTP, NC

I am not sure if specializing is the way to go either. I tried that once and it has not worked out for me. I have found that most companies want someone that has mulit platform experience and somneone who can get the job done. I have been in the Industry for over nine years now and hold an SCSA, MCSE+I NT4, MCSE2K, MCSA, A+, Network+, and MCDBA. I have just figured that certs are almost worthless now a days. I mean the last year or so I have spent my time implementing company wide soultions in the CRM (not Microsoft CRM) arena, and completly chaning the SDLC within the company along with introducing CM Synergy. All I can say is that things aren't as good as they used to be.

Thu, Aug 7, 2003 Joseph El Paso

Hmmm. Anonymous is really got the Certs , But the Salary range he is at is Obsurd, I have 20 years in IT with only an MCP in 2000 pulling under 70k
I not to sure where he works but they are sure getting a bargain

Wed, Aug 6, 2003 Russell El Cajon

I agree with Anonymous. Specialization is the key. There are a ton of network admins out there and the turnover is almost nil.

Wed, Aug 6, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

You need to specialize. There are way too many 'network administrators' out there for too few jobs. The jobs that I do see out there are: security, project management, dba, and java...

Wed, Aug 6, 2003 Contractor Iowa

I don't see any job hopping around here like it use to be. There are very few full-time job opportunities. I am an MCSE on NT4.0 with 7 years of full-time experience. I was making $61,000 before being laid off and $56,500 previous to that. Now I am at $17 per hour, but I know many here are at $0. MCSE's are a dime a dozen - companies should take advantage...

Wed, Aug 6, 2003 Anonymous Southern California

I'm pretty much amazed that any of you are making good money. I'm an 2K MCSE, MCSA, MCP, NT4 MCP, CCNA, and A+ certified...have been (for some of these) for several years, have 9+ years off-the-job experience and after all those certs was finally given a chance...3 months into it, I'm completely (and doing so solo) running a 10 server setup (5 of which are linux based & completely configured by myself) and have configured a T1 w/cable fallback on a new cisco 2621 I purchased for the company. I'm pulling 16$ per hour part time and honestly dont even expect a raise until I leave this company. The more I work, the more I see contract is the way to go..perhaps that's where the real dough is.

Wed, Aug 6, 2003 Ben Nevada

I finished the MCDBA in November 2002, and it IS pretty hot. Demand outstrips supply. If you're good with SQL Server, then you can look forward to a very stable job situation.It's one of the smartest things I ever did. It took me a year to finish it. Recommendation: Get very good with execution plans, DBCC, and physical design. These are overlooked, yet critical, developer skills.

Wed, Aug 6, 2003 Rick B Columbus, OH

I've begun studying for my MCDBA, beginning with my Windows 2000 Server exam, which will give me the MCP title. Just to see what the interest level would be, I spoke with a few of the consulting firms I've been working with recently (trying to get assignments from), and they were all very encouraged by my efforts, saying that once I have that title (MCDBA), putting me in a good position won't be difficult at all. It helps that I've been in web development using SQL Server before, but I was encouraged by what I heard.

Wed, Aug 6, 2003 Russell El Cajon

I know if I want to see an increase in pay, I'll need to leave my current position. But the upside is that there finally is some job activity in this area.

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