Do you ever turn to the person sitting next to you in a meeting and think: “How much is this person really making to be here?”
Even if you don’t mean to be competitive and prefer to focus on your work, it can be tempting for just about anyone to occasionally wonder how they fare against their counterparts — or even people in totally different departments or industries.
Current average salaries in US companies
Before we get into the specifics on how to compare your salary to the national average, here are some high-level numbers to consider. First of all, your baseline comparison is the “national average wage index.”
In 2016, reporting by the Social Security Administration had the national wage index at slightly more than $48,000.
As for specific jobs and industries, the charts below offer an overview of 2016 salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These charts are not exhaustive and both jump over some detailed positions to give a bird’s eye view of various occupations’ average salaries in the U.S.
|Major Group Occupations||Annual Mean Salary||# of Employees|
|Office and Admin Support||$37,260||~22m|
|Food Prep and Serving||$23,850||~13m|
|Transportation and Material Moving||$36,070||~9.7m|
|Education and Training||$54,520||~8.6m|
|Business and Finance Operations||$75,070||~7m|
|Installation, Maintenance, Repair||$46,690||~5.5m|
|Personal Care and Service||$26,510||~4.5m|
|Building and Grounds Maintenance||$28,010||~4m|
|Computers and Math||$87,880||~4m|
|Architecture and Engineering||$84,300||~2.5m|
|Community and Social Services||$47,200||~2m|
|Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Media||$58,390||~2m|
|Life, Physical, and Social Science||$72,930||~1m|
|Farming, Fishing, and Forestry||$27,810||~450,000|
|Occupation||Annual Mean Salary||# of Employees|
|Computer and Info Systems Managers||$145,740||~350,000|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||$143,870||~200,000|
|Personal Financial Advisors||$123,100||~200,000|
|General and Operations Managers||$122,090||~2.2m|
|Human Resources Managers||$120,210||~100,000|
|Electrical and Electronics Engineers||$100,770||~300,000|
How to do your own salary research
The government data above gives you a nice general picture, but if you want to drill down to see salaries for your specific situation, there are ways to do that, too. After all, many factors impact your salary that can’t be accounted for in national numbers, such as:
- The cost of living in your city or town
- Your years of experience
- The type of employer (private sector, government, non-profit, etc.)
Variables like these can make it somewhat difficult to pin down exactly what a fair salary might be, but you can at least get a picture of what range your salary should be in.
One easy way to see where you stand is to go to Payscale and take the “What am I worth?” survey. This questionnaire will deliver a detailed report on your salary compared to the national average. It will even recommend courses you can take to increase your pay, list related skills that affect your salary, suggest future jobs your current role can lead to, and provide job openings that relate to what you do right now.
And if you find that your salary isn’t up to par, here are a few things you can try to carve a more fruitful path:
- Compare your role to others that utilize the same skillset but in different jobs or industries — you might find simply switching one of these factors could lead to a higher pay trajectory without drastically changing your daily work.
- Research courses or certifications you can take to help you qualify for a promotion, but be sure that any costs will be outweighed by your future pay before you sign up (and check to see if your company offers reimbursement for such studies).
- Ask your direct manager what kind of education, skills, or responsibilities you can take on to improve your outlook — this is a good way to get specific information from the person who understands the needs of your company and industry overall.
- Learn the art of salary negotiation for raises at your current job and future offers down the road so that you can discuss your compensation with confidence and a strategy.
How to make the most out of your salary
No matter how much money you earn or could earn in the future, the key to maximizing your salary is to make the most of it at every step of the way, rather than waiting for the next bonus or raise to do so.
Here are a few things you can do right now to make the most of your salary:
- Contribute to your 401(k) if your company offers it — and if they match, contribute up to that amount.
- Consider signing up for an IRA if your company doesn’t offer retirement benefits — thanks to compound interest, you can end up with more for retirement by saving what you can early on rather than saving double that amount 10 years later.
- Look into refinancing your student loans at a lower rate, so that more of your payment goes to the balance rather than interest. But consider it carefully before you act, since this means converting federal student loans to private and thus losing out on benefits such as income-driven repayment plans.
- If you get paid biweekly, make biweekly payments on any debt you owe. Paying half the monthly amount due every other week will cause you to make one extra payment per year, which can get you out of debt faster without sending your budget into a tailspin.
- Automate your savings, either through direct deposits from your paycheck to a savings account or through a financial app to help you save. Ensuring that some money gets stashed away before it hits your checking account helps you avoid the temptation to spend it all, and it can even help you get started with investing.
- Utilize all the benefits your company offers. That means going on annual doctor and dentist check-ups if your company gives you insurance, using flexible health savings accounts for copays, taking advantage of gym memberships, and more. There’s no better way to “treat yo’ self” than maintaining good health.
Talking about salaries doesn’t have to be painful or awkward
Your salary might just be a number, but it’s one packed with emotions. We tend to view our salaries as a reflection of our self-worth — and the way employers value us. But, in the end, it really is just a number.
Sometimes our employers want to pay us more but can’t feasibly do so. And sometimes we just don’t do ourselves justice when it comes time to negotiate a great salary. Either way, don’t let how you compare to average U.S. salaries tell you what you’re worth.
Your career should be about your livelihood but also your fulfillment. Keep building the skills that enable you to shine and adding responsibilities that make you an asset. And when it comes time to talk money, arm yourself with the knowledge of how you’ve contributed, how you can contribute moving forward, and what your role is worth in the market.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.88% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.85%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 6.59%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 5.25%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|2.13% – 5.25%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of June 1, 2021.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Interest Rate Disclosure
Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.48% APR to 5.79% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.88% APR to 5.64% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 2.04% and 5.8% to the one month LIBOR. Earnest rate ranges are current as of 6/8/2021, and are subject to change based on market conditions.
Auto Pay Discount Disclosure
You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.
Student Loan Refinancing Loan Cost Examples
These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary.Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest. com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.
One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates from 2.49% APR to 6.94% APR (with autopay). Variable rates from 1.99% APR to 6.59% APR (with autopay). All variable rates are based on the 1-month LIBOR and may increase after consummation if LIBOR increases; see more at SoFi.com/legal/#1. If approved for a loan your rate will depend on a variety of factors such as your credit profile, your application and your selected loan terms. Your rate will be within the ranges of rates listed above. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers, or may become available, such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license #6054612; NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Additional terms and conditions apply; see SoFi.com/eligibility for details. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
6 Important Disclosures for Navient.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 04/07/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.13%-5.25% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.