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Right Mindset: How to make $80,000 or more salary in IT field?


A principal application architect, a 16 years experienced developer’s insight about career progression or “corporate ladder climbing” in IT field. The focus for this article is only about one aspect or one factor of this matter, with the understanding that there are more factors out there that contribute to a successful career in IT. This one aspect is a person’s right mindset, that drives the action or more specifically drive the question. The right question leads to right path of action.

Key Question:

“How can I make $80,000 yearly salary or more in IT?”

–         This is the exact question that Di Tran, a principal application architect received from a friend this week, who happen to have an IT background and computer engineer college degree.


The intention of this article is to share one perspective of an experienced programmer, a developer, and an architect, which he uses over the years to help him progress in his IT career.


“Friend, I think what you are asking me is how can you get better in what you do today at your IT position, that would enable you to get to the next level, is it correct?” Di Tran responded to his friend with the question above. The friend responded with the “Yes”.

“So it is not about the $80,000 salary that is the end goal here, but it is about the enablement that a person need to do a job at the level that happens to be paid at $80,000, is it correct?” Di Tran continued with another question for his friend. Once again, the response is a “Yes” from his friend.

Right mindset drives the right question being asked, that results in right understanding of the direction; that leads the individual’s action. So the gist of the matter are 1-Right mindset and 2-Right question.

Right Mindset

$80,000 salary in this question is still the goal, but if we make it as the goal for action, then it does not fit very well, because what you really want is the position of $80,000 ($80k) salary. The position of $80k expects a certain skill-set, and we need that certain skill-set to get there. So if skill-set = the enablement for that $80k position, then what skill-set do you need in this case? Before we ask about what we need, we have to ask where we are now, or what we currently have? These leads we to the next section of right question.

Right Question

Throughout this article, you might already notice that we have not have the exact answer to any of the question, but what we have gotten to are a question that leads to another question, that leads to another question, and again and again another question. This is the key for IT career progression in Di Tran’s perspective.

The IT job is never about knowing the answer when you get the question/challenge/issue, it is always about how-to-figure-it-out. The reason is, technology change faster than anyone of us can keep up. As you read this article, there are new technologies being created, new system being built, new IT acronym being made up, new algorithm being developed, new communication protocol being invented for data movement, and so on and so forth.

The how-to-figure-it-out is always going to be about asking the right questions, or more specifically a chain of questions in a structure or unstructure manner that assists the creation of the path to the answer. This enables the validation or auditing process for those who come after, to understand the reason, and the guideline for a certain answer or decision that come into place. These chain of questions often go hands and hands with development of a system design, an application and app integration architecture, which can be another topic to be covered in another post.

Right questions come in chain or in sequence, and as it go down the more detail arise. Asking the right question requires a foundation of knowledge and experience, but more importantly it takes practice to do explicitly in writing, in talking, or in drawing; and do it simplistically to ease the comprehension of others. The better this get, the more you can learn, the more skill-set you will acquire, and of course the better your stance for the next level role.