Benefits of Specializing in IT

What doctors make the most money right out of college? That’s easy, those who specialize. Why? General Practitioners are thick on the ground and competition is tight. And Information Technology is no different. Back in the day, Web Developers could demand top dollar because the skill-set was limited and there was more complex work than experienced webmasters. Fast-forward 20 years and webmaster jobs are a secondary or tertiary hat that someone in an organization “also wears”. Especially now that there are many automated ways to build a website of significant complexity without knowing how to program one line of code. Thanks a LOT WordPress!

The Next Wave – Specializing in Atlassian

Now we see another specialized skill-set gaining in popularity as much as it’s climbing in salary. I give you, the “Atlassian Administrator”.

In the nineties if someone told you “I’m a webmaster” this could mean a broad range of skills. It could mean anything from having built a Dungeons and Dragons webpage on Yahoo or Angelfire (are they still around?) all the way up to an eCommerce portal for a Fortune 500. It was so confusing certifications were created, like CIW (Certified Internet Webmaster), to differentiate between the various kinds of Webmasters. And like a Webmaster the term Atlassian Administrator is just as ambiguous. Forget trying to find a good description of responsibilities as well as a narrow salary range. Why? Because Atlassian consists of a large suite of tools requiring vastly different skill sets, experience, and backgrounds, not counting all of the extras your employers will want you to have.

JIRA is undeniably the star of the suite, specializing in task management, agile project management, and many other advanced capabilities like ITSM and Portfolio Management. So who is best to admin a server like JIRA? Logically speaking the best JIRA Administrators are those with a background in IT or IS as project managers themselves. But there’s room to get even more granular from here. The best JIRA Software (Agile) Server Administrators are former Scrum-masters of software development projects. Why is this the secret sauce? Simple. If the server administrator was once a PM or Scrum-master themselves then most of the obstacles that exist between an admin and the users disappear because they already know what their “customer” needs.

How Salaries Match Up

In San Francisco, CA and Austin, TX where Atlassian tools have a strong foothold, many companies are using the software and there is an experienced user base where salaries are close to the national average. According to glassdoor.com your run-of-the-mill Atlassian Administrator is worth just north of $50k per year.

Atlassian Administration Salaries

Unicorns?

But remember, this is without getting granular and without the “Secret Sauce” that is often expected of these admins. In fact, most organizations require existing technical support roles to wear the Atlassian Admin hat in addition to working in the PMO or Dev Shop and supporting development teams within a SDLC environment. Whew! The end result…the “Atlassian Unicorn”. Who’s this? They’re rare, they wear a LOT of hats, and they’re too valuable to ever let go but impossible to actually quantify because of all the undocumented skills they bring to the table. In markets across the US where Open Source is just beginning to take hold, or like Dallas / Fort Worth that’s attracting High Tech to cheap real estate, low cost of living, and low corporate taxes, Atlassian Administrators are seeing a growth spurt in demand and salary like no other specialty. And if they can wear many hats, the skies the limit.

$36,200 may seem low, but this is just the baseline and it’s a starting salary. Remember to keep in mind that the cost of living in Dallas is half, if not less, than that of living in San Francisco or Seattle. Conservatively speaking, that’s the same as a $72k salary in those high cost of living markets. Starting. Add in all your other skills often expected by employers and you have your unicorn where the value and salary go up.

We’ve already covered the PM heavy Atlassian Admins who manage the JIRA application. Imagine the strength of a former developer who is also savvy with the Developer tools that come in the suite, like Bitbucket, Fisheye, and Bamboo and now you have an admin who can coach and mentor the Dev teams, in a language only they understand. And let’s not forget Atlassian Admins who were former Tech Writers. Now you have a Confluence Admin who can work closely with BAs, Compliance, Governance, and everyone who works with company Policy and Procedure. Unicorn!

What’s the salary look like with the secret sauce on top?

Throw in all these extras and you’ve got a resource worth their weight in gold. According to Indeed the average salary for jobs related to “Atlassian” range from approximately $81,308 per year for Project Manager to $123,261 per year for Development Operations Engineer. The Average salary in Dallas meets the national average of approximately $95k.

But wait, there’s more!

Contract Atlassian Admins, sometimes only necessary during installation and setup, are gaining in popularity as well. Sites like Upwork and Freelance have a range from $25 to $75 per hour as a baseline.

Looking for specializing in a growing career in IT?

If you have background in areas like IT Help Desk, Project Management, Configuration Management, ITSM, Risk Management, Change Management, Development, DevOps, Tech Writing, or Server Administration of any kind consider adding Atlassian Administrator to your repertoire.

At High Order Solutions, headquartered in Frisco, TX we teach Instructor-Led certificate tracks for IT professionals with Official Atlassian curriculum, hands-on real world labs, and workshops that sharpen your skills and prepare you for your next career. In as little as 12 weeks you can be up and running and looking for your next adventure in a highly specialized and sought after IT career.

Internships are available upon completion to gain experience and with HOS’s national recruiting firm connections we’ll help you get direct access to jobs as they come available. Current classes are held in the evenings, two nights per week, for the working professional and installment financing is available if needed.

For more information go to http://highordersolutions.com/training/atlassian-products/certificate-program/, email us at training@highordersolutions.com, or just call us at 972-294-7014 x3000 during normal working hours. To get an even closer look and have your questions answered by our certified instructors and staff HOS hosts a monthly open house from 4pm to 8pm on every second Friday at our Training Center. No RSVP’s necessary, just come on out and then join us for Happy Hour after.

– Thomas Lamson

Tom is President and CEO of High Order Solutions, a serial entrepreneur and Retired Naval Non-Commissioned Officer with 24 years of service including four mobilizations. As a member of a multinational Task Force Tom worked with all branches of military EOD personnel to exploit and reverse engineer IED initiation systems. Tom also has extensive private sector experience as a University Professor, a Program Manager for military and civilian avionics companies and as Director of a PMO for a cyber-security startup.