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For those who are frustrated or dissatisfied in their current jobs, complaints focused on upper management, budgets squeezed too tight and staffs stretched too thin. More than one respondent commented that it was difficult to specialize in any one storage skill when wearing so many hats. A lack of understanding of storage issues within the executive ranks also contributed to job dissatisfaction.

Jim Lekas, an IT systems administrator at Marlboro, MA-based Hologic, says his job is made more enjoyable because his boss is a "storage guy. The good thing is that I'm able to go to my boss and explain what we might need."

Stock options were one of the main reasons he took the position nine years ago, says Lekas. "I kind of caught the down curve when there were lots of jobs available and there were lots of people giving stock out," he says. Today, only 13% of those surveyed say they receive stock options.

At 44 and married with three kids, Lekas says he appreciates the stability of the company and its competitive health benefits. In 2008, says Lekas, he heard from lots of recruiters "because I work a lot with NetApp [products]. But I don't want to go to New York City." Like 53% of our respondents, Lekas says he envisions a career path focused on storage. The remaining 47% say they plan to leverage their storage experience to move into another area of IT.

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Experience Counts
Experience still trumps education when it comes to affecting IT salaries, which IT workers know has long been true. But this year, unlike last year, our survey shows that employees with a college degree did receive a salary boost vs. those with little or no college experience. On average, respondents without undergraduate degrees earned $80,908; those with degrees earned $87,259 and advanced degrees lifted it up to $91,731 (see "Average 2008 salary by education" below). The killer combination, according to our survey, is having more than 10 years dedicated storage experience and an advanced degree. Those storage pros were rewarded with average annual salaries of $122,975. Fifty percent of storage pros who completed our survey have undergraduate degrees and 15% have graduate degrees.

Hands-on SAN skills have the potential to add somewhere between 13% and 18% to base salaries, says David Foote, CEO at Foote Partners LLC in Vero Beach, FL. "That's a significant number," says Foote, adding that "you might not be able to get 16%, but you're going to get a bump for SAN skills."

Storage certifications from vendors such as Brocade, EMC Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM Corp. show less impact on salary increases than experience. The majority of our respondents (65%) hold no vendor certifications. Among those who have certifications, 21% say it "definitely" helped their career, more than 50% say it "somewhat" helped their career and 25% say certifications haven't helped at all. Among respondents to our survey, those with no certifications had a higher average salary than those with five or more certifications; however, having three certifications gave respondents a slight bump of less than $3,000 (see "Average 2008 salary by number of certifications" below).



This was first published in November 2008

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