InformationWeek recently posted an article that was the result of analyzing their annual Salary Survey. The article also references and provides a variety of stats derived from the survey. (They also produced a graphical summary of aspects of their survey or you can cough up the sizable chunk of change for the entire report.) The article would be useful for those looking to soon enter the workforce as well as those currently there with perhaps uncertain career direction.
There were a few items I found of interest. First, the article discusses the impact of certifications on your career. As I have been advising students for some time, the article promotes certification as a smaller piece in a large puzzle. Depending on your career path, certification may be necessary but it only is as useful as your experience. Picking the right certification prior to applying for a position might help bubble your resume towards the top of the pile but it is certainly not a deal maker. Much like obtaining a bachelor’s degree, you need to be able to back of the credentials with knowledge and experience.
An interesting parallel was drawn to the MBA as well: it’s not going to be nearly as effective without the experience to go along with it. I have advised students who have uncertain career aspirations to avoid pursuing advanced degrees until they have some experience. It is pointless to obtain a degree that has no influence over your career path. While demonstrating advanced knowledge is helpful, it’s much more helpful if it has some applicability. Though my career has been fruitful, having “only a PhD in math” (as one HR rep from Raytheon told me) meant I had a lot of ground to cover to prove myself in the software engineering world.
The last item was the discuss surrounding IT architecture. Essentially, we are talking SOA here. I have a hard time convincing students of the value of studying component philosophies and, to a lesser extent, technologies. While we take it from a software perspective, the concepts readily apply to SOA. Hopefully this lends a little support to the argument.