Beating the CTC Tapering Trap through your career
Say you are a Software Engineer with 6 years of experience in one of the skills in high-demand such as Java, Full-Stack, Cloud Engineering, Data Engineering, and DevOps are some of the possibilities.
You are shown the following graph. The y-axis figures are Indian Rupees in Lacs per Annum (LPA) or 0.1 Million. The figures are indicative. I have tried a couple of renowned salary information portals and they are heavily inaccurate. We are a Hiring Service company and mentioned below is our recruitment data which is from the representation population and is nearer to reality.
The Tapering Trap
Does the above graph make sense to you? Look towards the left, that's what an average Engineer's future CTC progress looks like. The more you go towards the left, i.e., further in your future career, the overall trend will taper to flatter and flatter. Why is it so? Apparently, we are gaining experience and becoming better experts in the technologies we are working on, hence, it is natural to expect the CTC trend through our career journey not to taper this much but it will.
Everything follows a market trend - the trend of demand and supply. India is the supplier of IT Engineers to the world. Hence, there is a humongous demand for Software Engineers. The maximum demand is for Developers or Engineers in the experience range of 3 years to 8 years. Demand for more senior Engineers goes down drastically and resultantly, the CTCs.
The point I would like to bring up to you is not to tell you that it is scary. It is as scary as you would make it to be. We have control over our careers. What we do today will shape our careers. With diligent planning and focus on our careers, we can beat the tapering trap.
The tapering in the above graph is the "IT Engineer" salary. The key thing to focus on evolving your career through continuous learning and gaining experience in fields of significance.
Challenges you may face with your Career
A typical career path for a DevOps professional starts out as a DevOps, SRE or Automation Engineer, and matures into seniority. However, after a few years, you would reach the start of the CTC tapering point. At this point, you need to evolve into either an architect or release or automation manager role. The preparation for an engineer to move into these roles are not automatic. Unless you are making yourself ready for these roles and continue to remain stable in your DevOps Engineering role, you will fall into the tapering trap. Opportunities in the market will drastically reduce, and bargaining power will diminish. Mind you, it is a challenging and frustrating time that you may face with your career.
T-Shaping through Continous Learning
Keep yourself updated: Not only should you expand yourself in breadth in the number of tools and technologies that you learn, but also focus on significantly improving your depth on a small number of technologies. This is what forms a T-shaped skill set that organisations of today are looking for from their resources. Increasing depth will also take you towards role levels of Architect, and Senior Architect - more upstream roles in the life-cycle of projects that are most valued and of advisory nature. You should be able to advise the teams and stakeholders on end-to-end solutions to projects and programs. Without years of preparation in your field of work, getting to these roles is not possible.
On the other hand, you may want to take yourself to other streams such as Release Management and such which require more work planning, execution, and stakeholder management kind of traits that you should learn to develop over years.
Value of Certifications
There are contrasting views in favour and against the utility of Certifications. My view is that certifications provide you with a level of credibility of experience in front of people or stakeholders with whom you are unknown. Again, there are certifications which are easy and not so much valued and there are ones which are very tough hence lending more credibility to your profile.