3 Big Tips to Deciding What’s a Good Salary For Yourself

Ryan Morris
by Ryan Morris
Get The Job, Guides - 3 years ago

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“What is a good salary?”

Unlike many of the questions we address here in the Zippia blog, this one isn’t likely to be asked by a job interviewer.

Odds are, you’re asking this one to yourself in the mirror.

People are shifty when it comes to talking about how much money they’re making, and it can be tough for that reason to figure out how much you really deserve.

How are you supposed to know how much someone in your position — with your education and experience — usually makes for a living, when no one currently in that position will come right out and tell you?

Fortunately, we’ve got a few tips to help you figure this out and determine your own personal number — that is, your preferred salary amount.


1. Why Is Determining a Good Salary So Hard?

Determining a fair salary is tough because, by and large, people don’t like to talk about how much money they’re making.

This is one big Western cultural holdover that is slowly dying, and it’s one that has never really made any sense.

It’s true that there are times that employees benefit from keeping salaries to themselves, and it can be embarrassing to learn that someone who does the same thing with the same training is making more than you are.

But for the most part, keeping quiet about salaries only benefits one group — employers.

Now, thanks to the internet and the relative anonymity it brings, more and more people are speaking out about their salaries in a medium where retribution from bosses is unlikely.

As an employee or potential employee yourself, it’s important that you take advantage of this new information. For perhaps the first time, you’re not relying on rumors or drunken coworker confessions to figure out how much money you should be earning.

You should just be able to look it up.

2. How To Determine Your Number

Before you can start making the amount of money you deserve to be making, first thing’s first:

You have to figure out what amount of money that is.

There are a number of methods for doing so, and ultimately, the final number you come up with is going to be subjective. It’ll depend on what you ultimately believe yourself to be worth.

But even so, it’s worth backing up that number with as much information as possible.

Here are some things to keep in mind while determining your perfect salary:

  • Start with websites dedicated to your chosen profession. There are plenty of salary calculators out there rolling around the internet — while these won’t be perfectly accurate, they can give you a good starting ballpark amount to work with.
  • From there, check with websites that show you how much people with your level of education tend to make in the position you’re looking at. Different education levels can affect salaries in different ways.
  • In addition to education, don’t forget that your experience level at your chosen profession will have an effect on the job you’re trying to get.
  • If you can find them, see if anyone who currently or has previously worked for the company to which you’re applying has posted their salary on the internet. Getting a general sense of how the company deals with compensation can go a long way toward helping you figure out your number.
  • Lastly, don’t forget that your physical location, as well as your scheduling flexibility, can be a big boon when it comes to getting paid more money.

3. How to Actually Start Earning Your Number

So let’s say you’re already working somewhere, but for some reason, you’ve only just taken the time to work out what a fair salary is for yourself based on all these factors.

And let’s say that, for whatever reason, the number in your head doesn’t line up with the number on your paycheck.

Obviously, this is a problem — it can cause you a lot of distress to feel like you deserve to be earning more money than you’re making, especially if you have good reason to feel justified about this feeling.

But how do you go about earning the amount of money to which you feel entitled?

Here are some big things to remember when it comes to figuring out how to start earning your preferred salary amount:

  • The first step is to figure out what it would take to earn your preferred salary amount at your current job. What are the steps to get a raise at your current place of work? You might find that just having a well-timed conversation with your boss can be enough to get you up to your preferred salary level — but you’ll have to negotiate.
  • If you find that it’s impossible to make the amount of money doing what you’re doing at your current place of work, then it’s time to start looking elsewhere. Assuming that the salary number you’ve come up with is reasonable, then you shouldn’t have too much issue convincing other people you deserve to make it — at least, it shouldn’t be any more difficult than an ordinary job interview. Which, granted, can be extremely hard no matter your qualifications.
  • While applying for a new job, you have to remember two things: 1) you deserve the salary amount that you’ve picked out for yourself, and 2) any potential employer is going to try to lowball you. Go into any negotiation about salaries with a “walk away” number — if you get offered anything that low, then just decline the job offer (politely). Remember — you deserve to be paid appropriately. You’re not “lucky” to get the work you’re finding — employers need employees.

Wrapping Up:

That’s all for this one! Just keep in mind:

If you’ve worked out how much money you deserve to be making and realized that’s a greater amount than what you currently earn, it’s true that just getting a raise might help you out.

But beware if you find that raise wrapped up in a promotion — at least if that promotion also comes with more responsibilities.

Promotions are great, most of the time. They let you move up the ranks and earn more moeny while making you look more hireable to people outside as well.

But that number we’ve been talking about, your preferred salary — that number pertains to the job that you ALREADY HAVE, and NOT to whatever job is above that.

Taking on additional responsibilities to earn the amount you should be making for what you’re already doing doesn’t make sense, as it doesn’t increase your value as a worker.

Instead, you might be being tricked into keeping your value the same — they’re giving you the amount of money you want, but they’re making you do more to earn it than someone else might at a different company.

So if this happens to you, remember that there are other jobs out there, and that looking around for new work might be a better option than taking on a promotion that’s not really a promotion at all.

Best of luck! Here are some other links to help you on your way:

3 Tips on How to Follow Up With a Recruiter
3 Tips to Answering the Question “Why Should We Hire You?”
3 Tips for Identifying the Worst Companies to Work For

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