Ways to Jump an IT Pay Grade

Stuck in a paycheck rut? Here are 10 ways to climb your way out.

Everyone gets in career ruts from time to time, and it can happen for a range of reasons. Maybe you've been doing the same exact thing for too long. Maybe you've ended up at a company or in a role with little growth potential. Maybe the need for your skill isn't what it was when they hired you. However, regardless of what the underlying cause is, the result is that your paycheck may have stagnated as well.

Chuck Pappalardo, principal and managing director at Trilogy Search, an executive recruiting firm, notes that once an individual is established in their career, their salaries settle in as well, and barring any major promotions, jumping pay grades isn't very common.

"There's a time early in careers when young men and women might go from a small to much larger amount of money in a narrow span of time. As we get older, we're not likely to make leaps like that again, especially if we're already making the correct amount of money for where you are and what you're doing," said Pappalardo.

Yet this need not be the end of the story. In face, some IT recruiters and workplace experts pinpoint specific skills that a technology professional can pick up mid-career and reap the benefits on payday. Here are their top 10.

1. Gain Exposure to SAAS Products

Michael Kirven, principal and co-founder of Bluewolf, an IT staffing and on-demand consulting company, says that three years ago, SAAS (software as a service ) knowledge was listed as a requirement in 5 percent of their permanent placements; now it's 35 percent.

"In general, IT organizations don't necessarily know that much about SAAS but they're getting a lot of pressure from business to reduce costs. So, people with exposure to or a basic interest in these products can elevate their status quickly, whether they know Salesforce, Google Apps or WorkDay. Everyone needs to know how these products fit within the current IT architecture," said Kirven.

2. Get SAP Knowledge or Experience

Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing at Yoh Services, a provider of talent and outsourcing services based in Philadelphia, told eWEEK that he puts his money on SAP skills because there is a gap between 30,000 to 40,000 between the number of available SAP consultants and the amount that are needed.

"The supply is way short of the demand in SAP, and these people are not making minimum wage--this is a high-paying job. You get there by building your skill sets, working on different projects and making sure that you're out there expanding your skills," said Lanzalotto.

3. Get Vertical Expertise within One Segment

Kirven says that it's one thing to be a great Java person or a skilled .Net developer, but as systems get more complex, companies want someone who hasn't just learned these languages but has commitment to specific verticals such as financial, retail or media, and knows them well.

"A CIO of a large, growing company told me he needed not just IT architects but those who knew retail well. If you're building an e-commerce solution for a company, you need to understand the supply chain--how things start in China, where they get shipped, etc.--to be able to code effectively. We're seeing more and more demand like this," said Kirven.