Complete IT Professional Helping New Software Professionals Get Ahead In Their Careers Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:30:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 4 Ways To Improve Your Database Administrator Salary Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:30:25 +0000 Continue reading …]]> 4 Ways To Improve Your Database Administrator SalaryAre you a database administrator? Do you want to know how to improve your salary? Read this article for some information and advice on how to improve your database administrator salary.

What Is The Average Database Administrator Salary?

I’ve done some research on salary information in the US, and based on the information provided by Payscale and have found:

The average salary for a Database Administrator (DBA) in the US as of October 2014 is $68,000.

This includes all levels of experience of database administrators, as well as technologies. Let’s have a look at some related roles to find out more:

Database Administrator68,000
Database Administration Manager104,000
Oracle Database Administrator85,000
Senior Database Administrator97,000
SQL Developer66,000


What Does This Information Tell Us?

We can have a look at this information about salaries to find out:

  • Database Administration Manager: This is the team leader or manager role for DBAs. The salary here is higher than other roles, which is to be expected.
  • Oracle Database Administrator: This role is focused on Oracle databases. Interestingly, there was no data for the other major database, Microsoft SQL Server, but I imagine it to be quite similar. Other sources quote Oracle as about 8% higher (
  • Senior Database Administrator: These are the more experienced roles, where companies hire based on the expectation that the DBA has much more experience.
  • SQL Developer: This is not a database administrator role, but it’s a role that DBA’s often start in, so the lower salary reflects that.

Alright, so we’ve seen some of the salaries and roles related to a database administrator. Now, let’s take a look at what you can do to improve your database administrator salary.


Learn or Improve Your Unix Skills

The best way to improve your salary as a DBA is to learn Unix, or improve your existing Unix skills.

As many databases in large companies are run on Unix servers, this should not be a surprise. The database administrator does need to spend some time outside of the environment of the database, and this means they would spend some time accessing the Unix operating system.

Learning skills such as writing scripts, running commands, and reading log files is a great way to improve your salary as a DBA. This is because it will make you more effective, and improve your efficiency on the job, which is something that all employers like.


Learn the Procedural Language of the Database

Both of the major database vendors, Oracle and Microsoft, both offer a procedural language that works with their versions of SQL. For Oracle, this is PL/SQL (Procedural Language SQL), and for Microsoft this is T-SQL (Transact-SQL).

Learning either of these skills will likely increase your salary as a database administrator, as you’re able to write code in these languages, find issues in scripts, and perform advanced tasks.

As most database administrators are usually focused on Oracle or Microsoft, it’s not often that you see a DBA who is knowledgeable in both. The best way to earn a high salary in the IT industry is to specialise, so I would suggest choosing one or the other. Don’t just base this decision on the pay (Oracle DBAs tend to pay a little more), as there are other factors involved and this may change. However, if you’re already a database administrator, you would have already learnt your specific database technology, so this procedural language step would be an obvious one.


Get Certified

A common way to improve your database administrator salary is to get certified. I’ve mentioned this in many of my salary posts, as it’s a good suggestion and is relevant to many roles.

There are two main companies to get certifications from, which are based on the two main database systems – Oracle and Microsoft.

Oracle offers certifications in many database versions. Their latest version is 12c, while 11g is one of the more popular ones I’ve seen.

  • Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Associate
  • Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Professional
  • Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Associate
  • Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Professional
  • Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Master

The certification path for Oracle DBA certifications goes from Associate to Professional to Master. At the moment, the 12c database doesn’t have a Master certification.

Microsoft offers two main certifications for their SQL Server database. They also list an SQL Server 2008 version, but I haven’t included it here.

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Platform

I wrote a post some time ago on getting an SQL certification, which you can read here

Also, as with many roles in the IT industry, the more experience you have, the better your salary will be. I haven’t included a tip here specific for this, as there isn’t really any actionable steps you can take to “get more experience”. It’s just something that comes with time.


Look For Ways to Help the Company Save Money

This kind of skill isn’t something that is mentioned on skills lists on websites, but it’s a useful tip anyway.

While the main role of a database administrator is to monitor a company’s database, companies are always looking to save money. If you can think of a way to save money, or save time, as a database administrator, then this could be a good way to improve your salary.

Some ways to reduce costs and time could be:

  • Identify bottlenecks and issues with any systems that use the databases
  • Discover ways to improve the efficiency of existing queries and jobs
  • Improve the way that you or your team does something, which saves time
  • Investigate any solutions or software that may solve a problem that saves time and cost, even though it requires some money to purchase

If you’re able to achieve a cost saving or time saving for the company, it looks good on your end of year review, and can certainly help in getting a pay rise and improving your database administrator salary.


Well, there are a few ways to improve your salary as a database administrator. I hope you can take one of these ideas and use it in your job to get paid even more.

Career Action Tip: Choose one method from this list and either learn the skill or look up the requirements for the certification.

Lastly, if you enjoy the information and career advice I’ve been providing, sign up to my newsletter below to stay up-to-date on my articles. You’ll also receive a fantastic bonus. Thanks!

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5 Simple Steps For How to Become a Programmer Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:30:41 +0000 Continue reading …]]> 5 Simple Steps For How to Become a ProgrammerAre you interested in becoming a programmer? I’ve explained the process to become a programmer in five simple steps in this article.

The Steps on How to Become a Programmer

A programmer is someone who writes code for software. It’s an enjoyable job, and also very popular. It’s the kind of role that many people associate with working in IT. Whenever I tell people I work in IT, many of them ask if I’m a programmer.

So, I’ve decided to summarise the steps that are involved in becoming a programmer in this article. Note that while the title of the article mentions “simple steps”, it’s the steps overall that are simple, not the work required. It’s not easy, you’ll still need to study and put in some work, but this is the general process you can follow if you’re looking up how to become a programmer.


1 – Choose a Language

The first step that I think should be taken to become a programmer is to decide what language you want to develop in. This is because it will determine what kind of role can get and what technology you work with.

For example, if you’re interested in learning Objective C, you might find this leads to a lot of iOS development jobs. If you’re looking to learn Java, you may find a lot of jobs building applications and middleware. Learning a database language could mean you become a database developer working on various systems, rather than working on developing web pages.

Is there a particular language that you’re interested in? If you’re not sure, that’s still OK. You can work this out based on the type of programmer you want to become. There are all kinds of programmers who work with many different languages, so you can start with the role type and then work out the languages, which is what we will look at in the next step.


2 – Look Up The Requirements for Entry Level Jobs

The next step in the process on how to become a programmer is to look up some entry-level programmer jobs and determine the requirements. Rather than me saying “go get this degree and apply for this kind of job”, I think it’s better to look up some jobs themselves and see what they require. This means you’re getting current information right from the companies.

There is almost always a section in the job description that says what is required of the applicant. This is what you should be looking for. They may contain things like:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent – this is the main one. Education is an important part of getting a job, which is even more important for entry-level jobs. Many programmer jobs may require a degree, but some won’t.
  • x years experience working with these technologies – this explains that you need to have a certain amount of experience working with the technology or language.
  • excellent written and verbal communication skills – these skills are required for the job, and can actually be found on many job applications. It’s not something you can show with education, but may need to demonstrate it in an interview.
  • experience in x industry – some kinds of programmer jobs are in certain industries, and having experience in that industry can help you do better at the job.

Once you’ve had a look at the requirements for these jobs, it’s time to get educated in your chosen language.


3 – Get Educated In Your Chosen Language

The next step to become a programmer is to actually learn the language you’ll be using on the job. This can be done in many ways, thanks to the increased knowledge of the overall IT industry and the Internet.

There are many ways to get educated, and perhaps the most common one is to get a degree. A degree, in Computer Science or something related, is a common way that people can get started in the IT industry and get a job as a programmer. It’s how I got started too.

However, I understand that not everyone can get a degree, due to time, cost, and other factors. There are other ways that you can become a programmer without getting a degree.

You can take a short course on a particular language. These can be offered at colleges and other facilities in your area, so have a look at what’s available. They are shorter than a degree as they teach less subjects, and may only focus on programming and learning a language.

Learning online is another great way to learn a programming language. I’ve learnt a few things online and have even developed a few courses myself, so I can see them from both sides of the fence. You can learn at your own pace, you get to choose what you want to learn, and sometimes even get to put the theory into practice.

In any case, you can learn how to program in a specific language using many methods, which is a must-do if you want to become a programmer.


4 – Start a Side Project

A side project is a good idea to add some extra experience to your career and resume. A side project is something you can do in your own time, once you have learnt the language and technology needed. This is so you can demonstrate that you have the required knowledge about a language, and can also practice programming in that language.

Some common side projects are:

  • Github – this is an online open source code repository, which you can contribute to by creating a new project or updating an existing one. Your profile on Github is a popular addition to a programmer’s resume.
  • Personal website – a great way to get your name out there or to practice your skills is to develop your own website. This can be anything from a personal website for information about yourself, or something more interactive and complicated. The aim is to demonstrate and practice your programming skills.
  • Custom application – similar to a Github project, you can write your own application to practice your skills. I wrote an application in Java to read files from all of my CDs and create a central database so I knew where to find things (this was before the time of large hard drives). Something you can use or something you have an interest in is a good place to start.

This side project is more important if you choose not to get a degree. Sure, a side project is always a good idea, but it is more important to show that you actually know the language and can prove it.


5 – Apply For a Job

The final step in this list is to actually go out and apply for a job.

You can use the same method in the earlier step to look for jobs. You’ll probably want to look for entry-level jobs, which are jobs that don’t have any experience requirement.

You can use websites such as Dice, Monster, Indeed, Career Builder, or any other job searching website to find these kinds of jobs. I’ve used Seek before, as I’m based in Australia. These sites should let you submit an application for the job on the website itself.

As part of this job submission process, you’ll need a resume and a cover letter. Your resume should include the education and experience that you’ve learnt for this language and how they are relevant for this role. The aim of a resume is to get you a job interview, so try to focus on the points in the job description when creating your resume. When writing a cover letter, customise it for this job and show your strengths. If you’d like to know more about how to create an effective and high-quality resume, you can take my IT Resume Results course.


Well, there are the steps on how to become a programmer. It can take a bit of work, but if you have the passion and dedication to it, there’s a good chance you’ll succeed. Programming is a great career and has many benefits, and seems to be in demand. Good luck for whatever path you take to become a programmer!

Career Action Tip: Decide which language you want to learn or specialise in, based on Step 1 above.

Lastly, if you enjoy the information and career advice I’ve been providing, sign up to my newsletter below to stay up-to-date on my articles. You’ll also receive a fantastic bonus. Thanks!

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8 Simple Steps For How to Become a Database Administrator Thu, 16 Oct 2014 11:30:12 +0000 Continue reading …]]> 8 Simple Steps For How to Become a Database AdministratorAre you interested in becoming a database administrator? Does this career path excite you? Learn how to become a database administrator with the simple steps in this article.

What Is A Database Administrator?

First of all, before we get into the steps for becoming a database administrator, let’s learn what a DBA (database administrator) actually is.

A database administrator is responsible for the databases for a particular company. They may be responsible for a single database, or a number of databases, depending on the size of the company and the number of other DBAs involved.

A DBA is usually involved in many areas of a database or set of databases. They monitor the databases as they are running to ensure that they are not overused and are running efficiently. They implement preventative tasks such as clean-ups and patching. They also assist project teams if necessary with designing databases and improving queries. They also help set up users, privileges and other security settings on a database.

This means that a database administrator needs to have a wide variety of skills – writing queries, designing databases, security, performance and monitoring.

So, how do you become a database administrator? I’ve listed out the steps involved in this article. While the title of this article mentions they are “simple steps”, the process has been broken down into simple steps. The work involved is not that simple and may take some time.


Step 1: Decide Which Technology – Oracle or Microsoft

There are two main types of database administrators, one for each of the major database management systems. Oracle and Microsoft both offer database management systems which are widely used, and most database administrators usually specialise in one or the other.

While they both run the SQL language with some minor differences, the administration side of them is widely different. An Oracle DBA would know the same administration concepts as a Microsoft SQL Server DBA, but the actual implementation and setup and details are quite different.

Sure, there are other database systems out there, but they are not as widely used in companies these days. If you’re looking to become a database administrator, I would suggest choosing one of these two technologies.

Not sure which one to pick? Well, which languages are you more familiar with – Java, or .NET? This may impact your decision, as Java is related to Oracle and .Net is related to Microsoft (but not restricted).

You can also do some research into the companies that you’d like to work for, or even into the company you currently work for, to see what is being used and what the demand is.

I’ve also written a post on choosing an SQL version or distribution to learn.


Step 2: Learn SQL For That Type of Database

The next step, after you’ve decided between Oracle and Microsoft, is to learn the SQL language related to that type of database.

This is because that DBAs need to know how to write SQL. Even though they might not write as many SELECT statements as someone who works in business intelligence or a developer, starting with the basics is a great way to get into any role.

I’ve had experience in Oracle development, and have even created several courses on Udemy. If you’re interested in learning Oracle SQL, you can learn with my online course here at Udemy.

If you still haven’t decided between these two technologies, you can learn both of them at this stage. It’s quite easy to learn one type of SQL and then move into the other type, as most of it is the same. Learn both Oracle and Microsoft SQL, which can then help you decide which kind of database you prefer working with.


Step 3: Learn More Advanced SQL and Database Topics

Once you’ve learnt the basics of the SQL language, you’ll need to move on to more advanced topics. Database administrators are experts in their field, and need to be quite knowledgeable about different areas of a database to be effective. While they might not use this kind of information on the job every day, knowing it will actually help them do their job.

The kind of topics you’ll need to know are:

  • Query optimisation – how to write queries to perform well, using indexes, and how to improve existing queries to make sure they run efficiently
  • Database objects – learn about triggers, views, sequences, and all other types of objects in the database
  • Advanced SQL – learning more complicated features of the SQL language such as recursive queries, subqueries, cursors, temporary tables and data warehousing or ETL processes
  • Database design – how to design a database to ensure that it runs effectively and does the job well (which I also have a Udemy course for, available here)

These are just some of the topics, and their implementation varies between Oracle and Microsoft. Learning about these topics will make you become a more effective DBA. If you’re interested in learning SQL online, you can read my article on it here.


Step 4: Learn About Database Administration

Database administration is a separate topic to learn. It’s taught in some courses, but the knowledge you need for administration is more than just writing SQL. Being a database administrator means you need to know how to monitor, set up, and perform maintenance on these kinds of databases.

The kinds of skills you’ll need to learn are:

  • Users and roles – how to create users, privileges and roles, and how to ensure that the database is secure from unauthorised users
  • Installation – how to install, upgrade, and configure the database based on the requirements or needs of the database
  • Monitoring – how to make sure the database is running smoothly, identifying any issues before they happen, and what to do when they happen

Once again, these are just some of the skills needed for a database administrator.


Step 5 (Optional): Look for Junior Database Developer Roles

An optional step for how to become a database administrator is to start with a role as a database developer. This is optional as it’s not needed. You don’t need to be a developer before you become an administrator, but I think the experience you get as a developer can really help see things from the other side.

Once you have the knowledge that I mentioned above, or even just the intro and advanced SQL topics, you can start looking for junior database developer roles in your chosen database management system (Oracle or Microsoft). Both kinds of roles should be pretty popular, so have a look on your favourite job searching website.

These kinds of roles are targeted towards those who have minimal experience in databases, and if you’re just learning, this would be just your kind of role.

So, if you’re interested in databases, you can start here. I think it’s an optional step, but is recommended.


Step 6 (Optional): Get Experience as a Database Developer

This is also an optional step, as it’s related to the previous step of getting a role as a database developer first.

If you’ve decided to become a database developer, the next step is to get some experience. Get at least a couple of years’ experience as a database developer to truly understand what this role involves and how it’s done. This kind of experience will help you in the long term and in your role as a database administrator in the future.

This is where you put into practice all of the skills you’ve learnt. You’ll get to work on projects where you write SQL, design databases, and run queries for different reasons. The experience you get here will be useful in the future.


Step 7: Look for Junior Database Administrator Roles

Now is the time where you can move into the actual database administration side. Have a look for some Junior Database Administrator roles, either within your own company or externally.

Once again, they are junior roles as they appeal to those who have no experience in the actual role. While you may have some experience as a database developer (which I think is optional but recommended), the experience as a DBA is quite different.

You might have more success looking inside your own company for this kind of role. If you’ve spent some time as a database developer, you might know who the database administrators are, which you can speak to about moving into that kind of role. It’s usually easier to get hired within your company than to look outside the company.

A junior DBA role might also be working within a team of more senior database administrators and may not have full control or responsibility of a database. That’s OK though, you’ll get to learn what’s involved and get some invaluable experience about database administration.

Which brings me to the last step.


Step 8: Move Into a Database Administrator Role

The final step is to actually move into the role you’ve been aiming for – the role of a database administrator.

Similar to a junior DBA, a normal DBA is someone who has experience as a DBA but can manage a database or set of databases on their own. They don’t need supervision as they have had the experience in the role already.

This may take some time to get into. You might need six months or a couple of years’ experience before you get to this point, depending on the company you work for. In any case, getting to this role involves more responsibility and knowledge, so make sure you keep up to date on the latest issues in your chosen database and what’s happening with the databases in your company.


Well, there you have it. I’ve listed out what the steps are on how to become a database administrator. Do you have any questions on this particular career path? Share them in the section below.

Career Action Tip: Determine which of the steps above you have completed, and then decide which step is next on this list for you. Determine the next action to proceed with that step in the process.

Lastly, if you enjoy the information and career advice I’ve been providing, sign up to my newsletter below to stay up-to-date on my articles. You’ll also receive a fantastic bonus. Thanks!

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Evernote – A Better Way To Take Notes At Work Tue, 14 Oct 2014 11:30:53 +0000 Continue reading …]]> Evernote - A Better Way To Take Notes At WorkI’ve been using Evernote for a while to take notes at work, and I’d like to share how it has improved my working life and how you can benefit from it.

Before Evernote – Using Pen and Paper

When I first started working in the IT industry, I took a lot of notes. I went to meetings and took notes, and also just took notes about things at my desk.

These notes were about things I needed to do, brainstorming, discussion points from meetings, websites, and all kinds of things. Pen and paper worked for me… for a while. Until the books started filling up. Until I was in a hurry and my handwriting got messy.

The biggest problem with pen and paper notes, however, was that I could not find certain notes in them easily. I sometimes wanted to find some information that I wrote down a few months ago. I would sometimes mark it or put a date on it, but it was still pretty hard to find things.

Surely there was a better way?

Working in IT, I usually favoured electronic formats over pen and paper. So, I tried to start taking notes electronically, first in a text editor, then in Microsoft Word. This worked… for a while.

Notes would get lost, I couldn’t remember where I saved some of them, and they were also harder to search and categorise.

There’s got to be a better way to take notes at work.


The Better Way to Take Notes

Sure enough, I discovered a better way to take notes. It was a piece of software called Evernote, which you might have heard of. It’s free, available on many operating systems and devices, and seemed to be perfectly suited to my task of taking notes.

I started using this, and boy, did it help! I really enjoyed how I could take notes and they would automatically save to my notebook. They were easily searchable, easy to create, and also had a tagging feature which made them easy to categorise. It was everything I needed. These notes also automatically synchronised between all instances of Evernote, so I could see them at work and at home, as well as anywhere I could log in to their website.

Since then, the app is now available on mobile devices, so I can now see them on my phone if I need to.


How Can You Benefit From This?

You might be thinking, “That’s a great story, Ben, but how does it help me?”

Well, you’re right. I had a look around for some guides on Evernote, and there are some good ones out there. Many of them detail what Evernote is, and how you can set it up, and all kinds of things you can use Evernote for, such as food recipes and memories of your kids.

However, I noticed that there was no guide that was specific to IT professionals. We have different needs for our note taking software, such as being heavy users of a computer and often multiple devices.

So, I decided to create one. Create my own guide, that was specific for Evernote for IT professionals. It’s aimed at the IT professional who wants to improve their career and be more efficient by improving how they take notes. The guide is called “10 Simple Steps to Use Evernote to Improve Your IT Career”.

It’s changed my life, so I wanted to have the opportunity to change yours.

You can read more about the Evernote guide here:

10 Simple Steps to Use Evernote to Improve Your IT Career

Hope you find it useful, and once again, if you have any feedback on it, just let me know!

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My Interview with Samanage Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:30:16 +0000 Continue reading …]]>

I recently had an interview with the people at Samanage, which you can read about here.

I was contacted by the people at Samanage for an interview on running an IT help desk. I’ve spent some time in a support role, so was happy to help out. In case you haven’t heard of them, Samanage is a cloud-based IT service desk and asset management platform that reduces your workload and helps you deliver fast, quality service.


Samanage: What are some challenges of running an IT help desk end users don’t think about?

Me: I think one of the main areas is prioritization. You might log a request to say your email client isn’t working correctly, and in your eyes, this is quite important. In the eyes of the help desk, it may not be as important. Help desks tend to rate importance based on the impact of the outage or issue and the number of users it affects. This isn’t something a lot of end users realize, and that there may be other priorities that help desk workers need to focus on.


Read the full interview with Samanage here:

You also can find out more about their IT service desk solutions on their website.

Hope you enjoy the interview!



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5 Ways To Improve Your Software Engineer Salary Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:30:43 +0000 Continue reading …]]> 5 Ways To Improve Your Software Engineer SalaryAre you a software engineer? Do you want to know what the average software engineer salary is, and how you can improve your own salary? Learn how to do exactly this in this article.

What Is The Average Software Engineer Salary?

In my recent posts about salary information for software professionals, I’ve used the data on Indeed.

The average salary of a Software Engineer in the US as of October 2014 is $94,000.

It’s higher than many other roles in the IT industry. Then again, software engineers really need to know their stuff.

Let’s have a look at some related roles and their salaries:

Java Software Engineer Architect123,000
Java J2EE Software Engineer97,000
Senior Net Software Engineer91,000
Principal Software Engineer102,000
Software QA Engineer81,000
Senior Java Software Engineer102,000
Senior Software Engineer99,000
Embedded Software Engineer92,000
Lead Software Engineer102,000
Software Test Engineer76,000
Java Software Engineer89,000
Devops Engineer102,000

This table is a list of job roles related to a software engineer, and what their salary is.


What Does This Data Show Us?

Let’s break down the table here and work out what each of these jobs are.

  • Java Software Engineer Architect – this seems to be a mix between engineer and architect, which may explain why it’s the highest paying salary on this list.
  • Java Software Engineer, Senior Java Software Engineer, Java J2EE Software Engineer – each of these are Java-related Software Engineers and increase in salary, from 89k up to 102k
  • Principal Software Engineer, Senior Software Engineer, Lead Software Engineer – these roles are more senior and not specific to a technology, which have a salary of between 99k and 102k.
  • Senior Net Software Engineer – this is another senior role, but focused on .Net. Comparable to Java but has a lower salary of 91k
  • Devops Engineer – an engineer’s role in the development/operations business unit, which has quite a high salary as well.
  • Embedded Software Engineer – this role is for those developing software for use in devices and other embedded environments.
  • Software QA Engineer, Software Test Engineer – both of these roles (testing and quality assurance) involve making sure the software is of high quality, and have similar salaries (76k and 81k)

So, it seems that software engineers can start anywhere around the 89k range and move into something around 102k.

How can you improve your software engineer salary so it’s more than these averages? Let’s take a look at five different ways you can do this.


Get Certified

Getting a certification is one of the best ways to improve your salary, so it should be no surprise that I’ve included it in this list.

I’ve written a recent article on software engineer career goals, where one of teh goals that I mention was to get certified. There are two organisations that provide certifications for these roles that are quite common – Software Engineering Institute (SEI) and IEEE Computer Society.

The Software Engineering Institute offers several certifications for software engineers:

  • Computer Security
  • Measurement & Analysis
  • Resilience Management
  • Software Development
  • Service-Oriented Architecture
  • Smart Grid
  • Software Architecture

If you’re more interested in something from IEEE Computer Society, they offer two certifications for software engineers:

  • Certified Software Development Associate (CSDA)
  • Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP)

If you’re note interested in any of those certifications, you can look at getting certified from the vendor of your primary language, such as Microsoft, Oracle or somewhere else.


Learn Another Language

Adding another language to your toolbox of existing languages that you know is a great way to improve your salary. According to Robert Half Technology, some of the languages that can increase your salary as a software engineer, along with the approximate salary increase, include:

  • C# (9%)
  • C++ (5%)
  • Java (9%)
  • .NET (9%)
  • PHP (9%)
  • Web services (8%)

If there is a language here that you don’t know, but are interested in learning it, I would suggest looking into it as it would likely have a positive impact on your salary.

There are many ways that you can learn a new language, as I’ve highlighted in this post, so have a read and decide which style of learning you’re most comfortable with.


Move Companies

Another way to improve your salary is to get a role at a different company. This approach is one that isn’t widely taken, but many people say that the best way to get a pay rise is to move to another company. Using your negotiation skills and explaining the benefits to a company of hiring you can mean you get an increase in salary jsut by moving to another comnpaniy.

There are some people that like to move companies often, in an effort to improve their salary. Others like to stay at one company and work on improving it from within (like myself, currently employed at the same company for just over 7 years). While there are pros and cons of both approaches, it’s common to get a better salary by moving.

Make sure you do your research, though. Work out if you’re actually going to get a better salary before you leave your current job, because there’s no point leaving for a better salary if it’s not going to be better for you.


Get More Experience in a Different Area

If you want to stay with your current company, another way to improve your software engineer salary is to get more experience.

This doesn’t mean just spend a few more years on the job. I’m referring to getting involved in different projects or different teams. If you get a chance to work on different projects, you can get a better understanding of how different systems work and different areas of a company. This can improve your knowledge about your own role, and will make sure you’re better informed when designing and developing solutions for the company.

The more you know about the company and how the systems work together, the better it is for both you and the company. I believe that salaries are a reflection of your value to the company, so by doing this, you increase your value and therefore increase your salary!


Become a Team Leader

You could take a different approach to your career and actually become a team leader. Moving into a team leader role of software developers or software engineers will take some experience, some learning, and different skills. Some people make great engineers or developers, but not team leaders. It’s an entirely different skill set. But, it’s not impossible to learn.

To move into a team leader role, you’ll need to learn how to work with people, how to make decisions that affect a team, how to monitor a team’s workload, and all other kinds of people-related skills. This can all come with time and some training, so don’t get too worried. However, it is an option if you want to improve your salary. I’ve written a post about getting into a software team leader role that I think is worth reading.


Well, there’s the five tips on how to improve your software engineer salary. Do you have any other tips to offer? Share them in the area below.

Career Action Tip: Select one method of improving your salary from this list (such as learning a new language), and decide on the next step you can take to achieve it (such as selecting which language you want to learn).

Lastly, if you enjoy the information and career advice I’ve been providing, sign up to my newsletter below to stay up-to-date on my articles. You’ll also receive a fantastic bonus. Thanks!

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5 Tips for Setting Software Engineer Career Goals Mon, 06 Oct 2014 11:30:29 +0000 Continue reading …]]> 5 Tips for Setting Software Engineer Career GoalsAre you a software engineer? Has it come to that time of the year where you need to set some career goals? Read about how you can come up with some goals with the tips in this post.

What Are Career Goals For?

First, let’s have a look at the reasoning behind career goals.

Career goals are basically a statement, a goal, that you have decided that you’d like to achieve for your career. You might have goals for the other areas of your life, such as financial or life goals, but the career goals are just focused on your career.

These career goals can be focused on achieving a specific job title or area of expertise, working for a specific company, or getting a role in a certain industry. We all should have career goals. It provides the direction and motivation that we need to get ahead in our careers.

If we don’t have any goals or targets or any idea of where we want to go in our career, then what should we be doing?


What’s So Special About Software Engineer Career Goals?

The reason I’ve written this post is to highlight some examples and tips of some career goals specific to software engineers.

What’s so different about software engineers? Well, they not only are capable of writing the code for a system, they also know how to design it for other programmers. It’s kind of like a stepping stone towards an architect role. It’s also not just a role that focuses on programming, as there is a design element to it as well. By design, I don’t mean the visual design or UI. I’m referring to the design of the code and modules and how the interactions between the code work.

For these reasons, the goals of software engineers are different. I’ve included a few tips below for coming up with your own career goals. Even if you’re not a software engineer, they can prove useful to you.


Tip 1 – Get Certified

Getting certified is a great goal to have. It shows that you are dedicated to your career, it shows that you can focus on something with an aim to achieve it, and that you’d like to stand out from other people in the industry.

There are many certifications available to those in the software industry. If you’re focused on a certain language, then you can look at getting a certification from that particular vendor. For example, if you’re a .NET developer, you can look at getting certified by Microsoft, such as getting an MTA or MCSD. If you’re into Java, you can look at Oracle’s Java certifications.

There are also other certifications available that are not vendor focused and are more geared towards a software engineer role. The Software Engineering Institute offers several certifications for software engineers:

  • Computer Security
  • Measurement & Analysis
  • Resilience Management
  • Software Development
  • Service-Oriented Architecture
  • Smart Grid
  • Software Architecture

Alternatively, the IEEE Computer Society offers two certifications for software engineers:

  • Certified Software Development Associate (CSDA)
  • Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP)

Either of these certifications can be helpful to you in your role as a software engineer. Have a read of the requirements of these certification and see if any appeal to you.

Setting a goal to get a certification, by a certain point in time, is a great action for your career as a software engineer. Remember, good career goals means they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.


Tip 2 – Learn a New Language

Software engineering can involve an area of actual development. A good example of a career goal that you might want to set is to learn a new language.

There are so many languages out there that software developers and software engineers can learn. I know a few from my days in university, but there are so many that I don’t know and some I haven’t even heard of!

Setting yourself a goal to learn a new language can be a good way to improve your career. Not only will it make you more versatile, it will help you understand programming and concepts in another language.

I won’t list all of the languages here, but if you’re interested in learning another language, think about what language you want to learn. What is used in your workplace that you don’t know about? What are you curious about?

Do some research online about how you can learn this language. There are many ways to learn a new programming language, which I’ve written an article about, so you can select the method that works best for you.


Tip 3 – Learn A New Technology In Your Preferred Language

Learning new skills doesn’t have to be restricted to new languages. You can look at setting yourself a career goal to learn a new technology related to a language.

This new technology could be something related to your language, such as a new framework or a complementary language (e.g.. learning Hibernate if you focus on Java, or PL/SQL if you focus on Oracle SQL).

Also, you can look at learning a new tool or software relating to the language. Doing this can help you become more proficient and effective at your job. Is there a tool that is use commonly in your workplace, but you think you could learn more about? It could be a development environment, diagramming or design tool, project or bug tracking tool, or anything else that you’re not quite sure about. Learning the tool and becoming better at your job is a great area for software engineer career goals.


Tip 4 – Lead a Team of Software Developers

Another common goal for those in the IT industry is to become a team leader. An example of a career goal, or a tip for software engineers, is to become a team leader of software developers.

Becoming a software development team leader is a common step for software professionals. It means you are responsible for the team, the work they provide, and making decisions that affect the team. You will need t use the knowledge and experience that you have to benefit the team and the company overall.

Getting a role as a software development team leader takes a bit of work, which I’ve also written an article about ( If you’re interested in the extra responsibility, and extra salary that comes with it, think about setting this as a career goal.


Tip 5 – Improve Other Skills Related to Software Engineering

You don’t have to set a career goal that is about learning a new language or getting promoted. You might want to look at other skills that complement or are related to your role as a software engineer. Some of these skills are:

  • Communication
  • People skills
  • Management
  • Time management and productivity
  • Software or database design

These skills are used often by software engineers or people in the IT industry. If you feel that you have room for improvement in any of these skills, or any other skills that you use, setting a career goal to improve them is a good idea. The hardest part about setting these goals, I believe, is making them measurable. A good goal is measurable, and it can be hard to “measure” if you’re achieved these goals or not/.

You could put down a goal to attend a course, or to perform an evaluation after a certain period, or to ask those you work with if the skills have improved between when you set the goal and your target date. Ask them to rate your skills before and after. This way, you can compare the numbers from a few people and see how they have improved.


Well, I hope this article has given you some ideas and tips for setting your own software engineer career goals. What goals do you currently have for your career? Share them in the section below?

Career Action Tip: Set a goal for your career, if you don’t have one already, using the tips in this article.

Lastly, if you enjoy the information and career advice I’ve been providing, sign up to my newsletter below to stay up-to-date on my articles. You’ll also receive a fantastic bonus. Thanks!

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How To Earn More Than The Average Web Developer Salary Thu, 02 Oct 2014 11:30:20 +0000 Continue reading …]]> How To Earn More Than The Average Web Developer SalaryWeb developers are a popular choice of career for many of those interested in the IT industry. However, for you to stand out and earn more than the average salary, you need to know what the average web developer salary, and how you can earn more than this.

What Is The Average Web Developer Salary?

Once again, I’ve used for my salary research, to be consistent with other articles I’ve written (see these articles on Java Developers and Business Analysts).

The average salary of a Web Developer in the US as of September 2014 is $87,000.

This is quite a good salary compared to other jobs in the industry. Of course, you’ll need to consider the cost of living, which can be higher in some places.

Let’s take a look at some related job roles and their salaries.


Mongodb Developer$ 52,000
Jquery Developer$ 52,000
HTML Developer$ 21,000
Hadoop Developer$ 52,000
Net Lead Developer$ 87,000
Junior Java Developer$ 21,000
IT Support$ 26,000
Android Developer$ 52,000
Ios Developer$ 73,000
Net Web Developer$ 82,000
Senior Web Developer$ 88,000
IT Support Analyst$ 26,000
Front End Web Developer$ 75,000
Senior Front End Developer$ 99,000


This table lists all of the Web Developer-related roles and what their average salary is.


What Does This Data Show Us?

Let’s take a further look at this table.

  • Senior Web Developer – this is where the experience comes in for web developers. It’s only just higher than the standard Web Developer role, according to this site.
  • Front End Web Developer – a “front end” is the part that the user sees, so this would exclude any database or interface work. Quite a high salary.
  • Senior Front End Developer – this role is a more senior role of the Front End Web Developer role. The salary is the highest on this list compared to the Web Developer salary.
  • Mongodb/Hadoop Developer – These are both database related and not strictly web development, and have lower average salaries.
  • Android/iOS Developer – Both of these are related to mobile development, and iOS has a significantly higher salary. Perhaps there is more demand for iOS?
  • Junior Java Developer – This is a development role but not really related to web development
  • IT Support/IT Support Analyst – Also not a web development role.
  • HTML Developer – This role is part of a web developer’s role, but it seems it only includes HTML which is probably why the salary is so low.
  • Net Web Developer/Net Lead Developer – These may be related to the .NET language and include the web developer and lead developer roles. These salaries are on the high end of this table.
  • jQuery Developer – This is a development role using the jQuery language.

So, using this data, we can see that web developers can earn an average of $87,000. There isn’t really a junior role, but many related roles start around the $50,000 mark. You can work up to a more senior role of something close to $99,000.

How can you earn more than these figures here? Let’s go into a few ways.


Get Certified

A great way to earn more than the average web developer salary is to get certified. Certified professionals usually get hired easier and earn more than non-certified professionals. This isn’t a firm rule, it’s just something I’ve noticed when speaking to people and reading articles from other IT professionals.

In a recent article, I explained that web developers can earn the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification which includes HTML5. They can also learn the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) which is a more advanced certification in development. Each of these can focus on a particular range of technologies, so have a look at the exam information to help you decide.


Learn More Web Development Skills

Another good way to beat the average web developer salary is to learn more skills.

Web developers usually have a few skills that they know. HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and maybe a couple of others. I’ve mentioned before that salaries reflect your value to a company, so if you want to earn more, then you should provide more value to your company. A great way to do this is to learn more skills.

Identify what skills you might need to learn that you don’t already know. Have a look at jQuery, XML, PHP, .NET, SQL, and any other web-related languages. Learning these can help you improve your salary and earn more than the average quoted here.

You can learn these skills on your own, using an online tutorial or a textbook. I’ve used W3Schools a lot in my time, to learn the basics of a language, as well as a reference once I’ve learnt it. If you’re not interested in that method, you can find a textbook, or even enrol in a short course to learn the languages that you need to know.


Do Some More Side Projects

A side project is a good way to improve your skills and your salary. You can start your own side project by either using a local development environment (such as WAMP) or getting a web host and a domain name. Using a domain name is a cheap way of getting a project started, and you can show the products as part of your sample of work.

It can be a good way to improve your skills, try new things, and to demonstrate your capability to others outside of your day job.


Well, hopefully this article has helped you learn what the average web developer salary is, and given you some ideas on how you can increase your own salary. If you have any questions or comments, put them in the section below!

Career Action Tip: If you’re a web developer, identify what languages you don’t know and are interested in learning, and find a method you’d like to use to learn them.

Lastly, if you enjoy the information and career advice I’ve been providing, sign up to my newsletter below to stay up-to-date on my articles. You’ll also receive a fantastic bonus. Thanks!

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How To Become A Web Developer Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:30:53 +0000 Continue reading …]]> How To Become A Web DeveloperAre you interested in becoming a web developer? If so, you’ve found the right place for information. Learn more about this exciting career path in this article.

What Is A Web Developer?

First of all, let’s go over what a web developer is.

A web developer is someone who programs web sites. They write the code, whether it is to display a web page using HTML or to perform complex functions using PHP or another language. They may also need to access a database or other systems in order for the web page to work correctly.

As you might have realised, there are many different languages that a web developer can use. HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, .NET, SQL, and many others. This makes them versatile but also means they need to learn a lot more than other developers.

Web developers may also need to learn design skills, depending on the kind of work they want to do. There is a whole different area of developing web sites related to the design work, which is usually done by Web Designers, but for some small projects or clients, the web developer often does that work as well.

Hopefully that has cleared it up. Let’s get into what you need to do to become a web developer.


You Don’t Necessarily Need a Degree

Web development is one of the few IT roles that I’ve noticed that you don’t actually need a degree for. This might be a good thing for many of you, as I’ve had a lot of questions about getting into IT without getting a degree.

Now, this isn’t a firm rule. I’m not saying you can definitely get a web development job without a degree. I’ve just noticed that it’s possible. Many other jobs, such as software development and project management, usually require a degree in Computer Science or something similar. Web Development, on the other hand, can be achieved with experience.


Learn the Languages of the Web

The first step on how to become a web developer is to actually learn the required languages. If you haven’t gone to university or college to get a degree, then there are many other ways you can learn the languages needed.

HTML is the big one. It’s what all web pages use to display content. You can learn this in many places – either online, using a textbook, or in a short course. Other languages, such as CSS and JavaScript, can also be learnt using similar methods. W3Schools is a great place to learn the basics.

If you’re interested in getting educated but don’t want to spend the time and money on a degree, you can look into a short course. Here in Australia we have shorter courses, that go for a few months, that can teach web development skills (and many other skills). Other countries may have similar courses.


Get Some Experience To Learn How To Become a Web Developer

One of the biggest tips I can provide for how to become a web developer is to get some experience.

When I was younger, I was looking for a bit of extra money and some experience developing web sites. I ended up creating a couple of simple websites for people. I don’t think I even charged for them either – I did it for free. They were for friends and I was more interested in getting the experience instead of making a bit of extra money

So, if you’re looking at becoming a web developer, I suggest getting some experience. You can do this by looking for some volunteer work, by offering your skills for free to develop web sites, in exchange for the learning experience. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Ask friends if they need any websites built
  • Ask your family if they need any built for themselves or for their workplace
  • Find some badly-designed websites and send an email to the owner (this might have a low success rate, but it’s worth a shot)


Start a Side Project

Another great way to learn how to become a web developer is to start your own side project. This would be a website that you create for yourself. You can use the skills you’ve developed and learnt earlier and put them to use on an actual web site.

You can either create a public facing website (by registering your own domain name and getting it hosted), or create one locally (by using WAMP or another kind of local development environment). Both of these methods are a great way to improve your skills and to show future employers and clients the quality of your work.

If you’re going to use a local environment, I would recommend also getting some kind of hosting and a domain name. It’s a good idea to be able to show your work to possible employers and clients, and it’s easier to do this if it’s available publicly. It’s easier to point them to a URL instead of showing them how to install a development environment!


Get Certified

If you want to go that extra mile and put in a bit more work into becoming a web developer, you can get certified. This is a great way to stand out from the rest of the industry and those who are not certified.

Some of the more common certifications are those offered by Microsoft. The MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) is a great place to start, and includes a unit on HTML5.

Once you achieve the MTA, you can look into getting the MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer), which is an advanced certification for developers.

Getting certified will demonstrate that you have a certain level of knowledge on the chosen topic, and show employers and clients that you’re dedicated to your career, and not just something you do on the side.


Well I hope these tips have helped you learn how to become a web developer. If you have any other questions, use the comments section below.

Career Action Tip: If you’re interested in becoming a web developer, set up your own local development environment and practice your skills.

Lastly, if you enjoy the information and career advice I’ve been providing, sign up to my newsletter below to stay up-to-date on my articles. You’ll also receive a fantastic bonus. Thanks!

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Business Requirements Document Template and Explanation Thu, 25 Sep 2014 11:30:04 +0000 Continue reading …]]> Business Requirements Document Template and ExplanationA lot of the questions I get asked, both on the site here and at my job, is about document templates. One of the more common templates is the Business Requirements Document template. I’ve created one for you to download in this post.

What Is A Business Requirements Document?

First of all, let’s discuss what a business requirements document is.

This document is used in software projects to detail the requirements of a project. It is usually written by the business analyst, and after they discuss the project with the stakeholders, they slowly complete this document.

The aim is to provide a clear understanding to the team what is being delivered and what isn’t.

I’ve created this template based on best practices, and some good documents I’ve seen over the years.

You can also download a Word document version of this template at the end of this post.


What Goes In A Business Requirements Document Template?

A good business requirements document template has many sections. The template I’ve prepared here has these sections ready for you to fill out. The sections are:

  • Title Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Executive Summary or Document Purpose
  • Project Description
  • Project Scope
  • Business Drivers
  • Current and Proposed Process
  • Functional Requirements
  • Non-Functional Requirements
  • Glossary
  • References
  • Appendix
  • Document History

Let’s go into more detail in each of these sections.


Title Page

The title page is the first page that the reader sees. It contains the title of the document, and the document type, in large font. This way the reader can tell exactly what they have opened.

In my template, I’ve included a few extra pieces of information which I think are helpful for the reader:

  • Author: Who wrote and prepared this document
  • Version: The version of the document, such as 0.1, 0.2, or 1.0
  • Date: The date the document was last updated.
  • Document ID: An ID number that may be determined by your document control system.

These can all be filled in by the author, and they are on the first page so they stand out to the reader.


Table of Contents

Next comes the Table of Contents. This is one of the most valuable sections in the document. I’ve seen so many documents that leave out the table of contents, and in my opinion, it should be in every document.

The table of contents is automatically generated by Microsoft Word. This means you don’t need to manually enter in the headings and pages. It should already be done for you. You just need to create it once, and update it when you’ve finished. In my template, the table of contents is already there.

The table of contents in Word links to heading styles, so any headings you add into the document will get updated in the table of contents.


Executive Summary or Document Purpose

This section can either be called the Executive Summary or Document Purpose. They are both pretty similar.

The aim of this section is to explain what the document is for. Why was it written? What is the point of the document? If someone hasn’t read the document yet, what are they going to find here?

It should be a short section, usually a few lines or a paragraph, that explains the purpose of a document. For a Business Requirements Document, this should be almost the same for each project, and I’ve included a sample in my Business Requirements Document template.


Project Description

This section will describe what the purpose of the project is. What is it trying to achieve? Why was the project started? What is the aim?

It might explain the current situation, issues with the current process, why the project is being done, and any references to legal or regulatory requirements if they apply.

This section is usually two or three paragraphs long.


Project Scope

The Project Scope section of the business requirements document template is a high level overview of the scope of the project. It lists what is being delivered by the project (in scope) and what is not being delivered (out of scope).

It should reflect the business requirements, but not be a copy and paste. It should be a high level description, so that someone can read this and see roughly what is being done.

If requirements change over time, then this scope section should be updated.


Business Drivers

All projects need some kind of reasoning behind them to support why they are being done. Why is this particular project being done? Some possible answers are:

  • Improve sales revenue
  • Improve efficiency in an existing system or process
  • Upgrade of an older system
  • Reduce time or costs in a current process
  • Regulatory or legal requirement

This section can also be expanded with the actual numbers and statistics as to why it is being done. Possible revenue along with the calculations, details of manual processes, cost savings, versions and features and why they are needed, and so on. This information will help the reader understand why the project is being run.


Current and Proposed Process

These sections, the Current Process and Proposed Process, detail how the current process performs in the business, as well as how the process will perform after the project is completed.

These processes can be described using either a list of steps, a table, or a diagram. Personally, I prefer diagrams, as they are easy to read and visualise.

I usually do my diagrams in Microsoft Visio, but if you don’t have that installed, you can try Microsoft Word itself, or another diagramming tool.


Functional Requirements

This sections is the main section of your Business Requirements Document. It includes all of the requirements of the system, which is each of the functions that it needs to perform in order for it to be successful.

The functional requirements section has a list of priorities. Each requirement is given a priority. These priorities indicate the importance of each requirement, which is helpful to the project team when determining what needs to be done.

My Business Requirements Document template has a table of five priorities, from Critical all the way down to Future Requirement.

The Functional Requirements section is broken down into sub-sections. This is so that the requirements can be grouped up into their logical areas. This also makes it easier to read and easier to identify the requirements. You’ll see what I mean in the example template.


Non-Functional Requirements

The Non-Functional Requirements section of a business requirements document contains all of the requirements that don’t relate to functions the system needs to perform. These are typically things that can be measured, such as:

  • Response times
  • Load times
  • Availability
  • Handling of concurrent users

These are also to be defined by the project team, as there may be certain criteria that needs to be met that hasn’t been specified in the Functional Requirements section.



In many documents, including the Business Requirements Document, there are a lot of terms that are used that can be confusing. System names, acronyms, technologies, and tools are some of the terms that not everyone may know about.

The Glossary is where these terms are explained. This section includes a list of all acronyms, systems, tools, and anything else that may be specific to this project or company, that the reader may not know about. Add in the term, as well as the description, in this section.



The References section is a small section, but it contains links to any other document or source that you have used in the business requirements document. This could be:

  • Documents on your central document control system
  • Web sites
  • Network locations

The usage of this would depend on how your company or team operates, but I think it is a valuable section.



The Appendix section contains any extra information that could not go in the sections earlier in this document. It could be screenshots of systems, specifications of software, project timelines, or any other information.

The main thing to be aware of with the Appendix section is including information here instead of a reference. It’s better to include larger documents and certain kinds of information in a separate document. This is so it can change easily outside of this document, and reduce the file size.


Document History

This section contains a table that lists changes to the document over time. Each line has a version number, starting at 0.1 and increasing by a minor version number at each change (0.2, 0.3, 0.4 and so on). The name of the person who made the changes, a summary of the changes, and a date, should all be added here.

When a version is published and approved, then it should be increased to a major version, such as 1.0. This means it is consistent and is a signed-off version.

This section can indicate what has changed in a particular version, and who can answer any questions about those particular changes.


Here’s The Business Requirements Document Template

So, I’ve explained the sections inside the document. Here’s the link to the actual Microsoft Word document that you can use for your own BRDs:

Business Requirements Document Template

It’s a Word document, with the extension DOCX, so it should work in all Word versions from 2007 onwards. I believe any other program that can work on these, such as Google Docs and Pages for Mac, should be able to open it.


I hope this article has been helpful, as well as the template. If you have any questions or problems with the template, leave a comment here and let me know.

Career Action Tip: Download the template above and use it for your next BRD.

Lastly, if you enjoy the information and career advice I’ve been providing, sign up to my newsletter below to stay up-to-date on my articles. You’ll also receive a fantastic bonus. Thanks!


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