As you start making your way in the workforce, you may find it difficult to answer the question, “How much should I be making?”
Discussing your salary with coworkers could help you see where you stand, but it may feel like a taboo topic, leaving you to wonder how you measure up with your peers.
The good news is that there is data available that can give you a ballpark figure of what to expect as you progress in your career.
How much should I be making based on my age?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) regularly releases median weekly earnings of full-time workers by age, race, and gender. Find out where you stack up based on the results for the first quarter of 2017.
- Men: $482 a week, or $25,064 annually
- Women: $394 a week, or $20,488 annually
- Overall: $426 a week, or $22,152 annually
- Men: $578 a week, or $30,056 annually
- Women: $502 a week, or $26,104 annually
- Overall: $528 a week, or $27,456 annually
- Men: $825 a week, or $42,900 annually
- Women: $716 a week, or $37,232 annually
- Overall: $778 a week, or $40,456 annually
- Men: $1,050 a week, or $54,600 annually
- Women: $846 a week, or $43,992 annually
- Overall: $947 a week, or $49,244 annually
- Men: $1,141 a week, or $59,332 annually
- Women: $863 a week, or $44,876 annually
- Overall: $1,001 a week, or $52,052 annually
- Men: $1,061 a week, or $55,172 annually
- Women: $836 a week, or $43,472 annually
- Overall: $962 a week, or $50,024 annually
Find out average salary figures for your job
Using just your age to determine how much you should make in the workplace shouldn’t be the only factor you consider. The cost of living in your area can also play a role.
What’s more, different industries and occupations have different salary expectations. Although BLS has a list of mean wages for individual occupations, they don’t break down the figures by experience level.
For more research on fair market value salary figures for your occupation, check out websites such as PayScale and Glassdoor. These companies allow you to review self-reported salary figures from other users. You can even search by experience level or by specific companies.
How to increase your income
If you discover you haven’t reached your full earning potential, here are a few ways you can start increasing your annual income to get back on track.
1. Focus on your current job
You don’t have to leave your job to increase your income.
If you feel like you’ve worked hard enough to deserve a raise, brush up on your negotiation skills and ask for one at your next performance evaluation.
If you’re in a job that pays overtime, volunteer to take on more hours whenever possible. Also, look for additional projects that may justify you coming in earlier or staying later to rack up more hours.
2. Look for promotion opportunities
If you’ve made yourself indispensable as an employee, your manager and others will take note.
Talk to your manager about ways you can prepare for a promotion in the next six to 12 months. Then, take their feedback and work to develop your skills and earn that pay raise.
3. Look elsewhere
Some companies are better than others when it comes to overtime, raises, and promotions. If you’re skilled at what you do, you may be able to leverage your qualifications for a better salary in a similar job, but with a different company.
You can also update your LinkedIn profile and get notifications on jobs that fit your experience and qualifications.
4. Learn a new skill
Looking to beef up your resume and skill sets? Consider taking a few online classes or attending night school to learn a new skill.
5. Start a side hustle
If your passion lies in what you do outside of work hours, consider turning a hobby you love into a side hustle or full-on business.
Depending on how much time and money you’re able to invest in yourself, you may be able to increase your income significantly.
You can also check out other side hustles that have the potential to be lucrative from the get-go.
Once you find out average salary figures for your age and occupation, take some time to figure out the next steps in your career.
If you’re underemployed or feeling trapped in a low-paying job, develop a plan around the next couple of career moves you can make to improve your situation. Creating a five-year road map for your career can also help you visualize and formulate a strategy for accomplishing your career goals.
Remember, finding a career that makes you happy and pays well is possible. It’s just a matter of pursuing your opportunities and using your current skill sets (or improving them) to make it happen.
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