How to Develop Your IT Skills and Raise Your Standard of Living

The technology field is highly competitive, and can also be very lucrative. To pursue a technology-related side job while in school, consider these paths:

Get Educated

To an employer, the more you know, the more you are worth. In the job market, education and a strong skill set in a particuluar field is king. To an employer, your educational pursuits indicate that you are both serious and motivated. Moreover, as you learn more, you know more, which makes you that more useful.

Let's face it: getting a promotion or earning more money at work is a Darwinian pursuit where only the strongest thrive. You must strive to appear to be the strongest, most useful employee with the most to offer. Learning more and getting more education is a sure-fire way to show that you deserve to drive the herd.

There is a couple easy ways to get more education to appear more "useful" to your employer:

Find Freelance Work

A good money-making method is to work freelance. Freelance technology professionals, web designers, graphic designers, and internet marking gurus are in high demand. Good resources for finding freelance work in technology are: 

However, if you go down this route, there advantages and disadvantages:

Pros:

  • You easily boost your resume with each freelance opportunity
  • You keep 100% of any profit earned

Cons:

  • Quality freelance work can be difficult to find
  • The income stream is not steady
  • Freelance work can be time-consuming if you already work another job

Start Your Own Business

Starting your own business can be an exciting, yet challenging experience; all the hard work and sacrifice can either make or break you.

But don't let that scare you. Staring a business venture can be a rewarding way to obtain an extra stream of cash. Here are some tips on starting your own business without driving yourself insane:

  • Start slow: At all costs, restrain yourself from diving head-long into starting a business. You may still need a steady flow of income while you start your business, as you will most likely not have a lot of business at first. Though you may have a genius business plan for making millions, at least initially, you're going to need to get your ducks in a row.
  • Spend a lot of time to get the business ball rolling. Don't quit your day job yet.
  • Set obtainable goals: As you formulate a business plan, set some small goals. Focus on making extra-pocket money in addition to your current employment salary.
  • Take breaks: Don't burn out. Take some breaks. If you are enrolled in courses full-time, don't dedicate 30 more hours to your business. Spend the weekend tweaking your business plan. Spend only a few hours on week nights. Spend your lunch hour making client sale-calls. If you start to feel discouraged, take a breather. Put up your feet and come back to it. In the end, you will be able to keep sustain sanity much longer.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

While looking for a new job, you may be enticed by a job that is closer to where you live or one with a hip or cool environment.Be advised that if you are looking to make more money, you are going to have to compromise a bit. If you accept a position that offers a lower salary than what you are looking for, eventually, you are going to have the same financial frustrations you previously worked to resolve.

Essentially, the key is finding a job that offers upward mobility. A little hard work and face-time with the boss will get you to where you want to be.

"Now is the time to make more money and be happier with your career. You can do it, and I guarantee that you too can be on the road to riches." And if not, in the very least, you will have learned more and done more than the rest of the computer-nerd herd.

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