I get the feeling I'm underpaid in my current position and my primary skillset is definitely under-utilised, but without a degree or even the industry standard certificate for what I really like to do, I feel like I have to accept that. Am I wrong? It would change my life to be wrong.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
SaaS product tester, mostly user and stability testing without automation, all through the GUI. I also do process improvement, metrics tracking, test case authoring, release tracking, team member training, some documentation, and pitch in on side projects like data migration. I've been doing this for a little over 2yrs. I'm paid a little over $40k per year in Austin, Texas. Salary references for similar positions all seem to point to a cold minimum of $10k more and an average of nearly twice my salary.
My immediate supervisor does not have an interest in leveraging anything other than what I'm doing right now. My true interests were well-known when courted for this position and have been put to use in minor ways, but no way near the level they could be truly useful. Based on my manager's needs, I must remain a reactive asset with narrow leeway for proactive initiative with no guarantee of acceptance of output. There's more to it, but that's the most relevant aspect.
My true love is project management, process analysis/development/improvement, and training. I have more than a decade of solid experience in this realm, some professional training supporting necessary and complementary skills, and a certificate for Project Management that was a precursor for PMI certification, but current job interrupted trajectory to take test, so don't have that crucial boost. Also have well-regarded professionals available as willing references supporting my experience and skills in these areas. Salary references for PM alone have a start of about $60k and quickly average out around $100k, rocketing higher for those with deep experience, advanced degrees, and great connections.
I'm currently wasting tons of energy and opportunities to enjoy life because of my underpowered salary, but can't shake the feeling that this is the best I can get because of the lack of degree and most-respected industry cert. I ended up here after 2 miserable, worrisome years of unemployment during the worst of the recession, so there is definitely a mix of gratitude and fear keeping me loyal.
But...am I wrong? Should I be hunting for a level-up position?
Extras, since this is anon:
• Willing to leave Austin, with preference for Houston or Pacific Northwest. It would be nice to stay here for a couple more years, though, due to family concerns. Would your answer change based on a move?
• Can't pursue higher education until I have a past tax issue resolved, so that's not an option right now, even though it feels like it would solve my whole problem permanently.
• It'll take 1.5yrs at current rate of pay/responsibilities to save the $2k for the PMI test, so that's not as moveable an object as it might seem to be. Do have litany of valid PDUs and can easily immerse in study materials to get back in the flow of it once I have it saved, making it a viable longer-term option.
• Don't have coding experience. Have QA'd backends and PM'd throughout the SDLC, though, and understand things like database table structures, queries, syntax, the difference between client-side and server-side, and other fundamentals.
• I'd love to consult, but I think most outfits want degrees and I definitely need health insurance coverage, which makes that seem like a bad fit on both sides. It would be great to be wrong.
• If current workplace suddenly paid me closer to $50k, I would likely be content for another couple of years doing little bits of PM/process improvement like I do now...unless a head hunter or "perfect" opportunity came along offering me an even more livable deal, of course.
Thanks for any and all advice and input on this, AskMe!