There are a number of variables to consider when planning for your future career. Jobs can be more than simply employment and can offer opportunities to indulge your passions, create friendships, and continue to develop professionally. While a job can offer a number of opportunities outside of your day-to-day duties, there’s one key consideration that impacts your current employment and the trajectory of your career: your salary.
Earning money is important. Your salary influences how you take care of yourself and your family, plan for the future, and enjoy your hobbies and interests. It can be frustrating if your salary limits your ability to live the life you want, particularly if you are struggling to figure out how to increase your salary.
While achieving a salary increase can require stepping outside of your comfort zone, it is attainable and can have profound effects on your life. Here are five ways to increase your earning potential.
Find a Mentor
When you’re considering your future career, it can be hard to determine exactly where you want to be in 10 years. Or, if you know exactly where you want to end up, it can be hard to determine the steps you need to take to get there. By finding a mentor in your industry or the industry you would like to enter into, you can learn from others who have walked a similar path. A mentor can provide advice and insight into what skills or technologies are popular in the industry and provide direction in where you should focus your professional development to reach your goals. With a clearer direction, you can take steps towards your dream job and the additional compensation that comes with it.
Ask for a Raise
For many people, asking for a raise is an uncomfortable situation. In order to effectively negotiate a salary increase or to find a new job with a higher salary, you need to have the skills associated with a higher level of pay. This could be projects that you have successfully completed, time spent at your company, extra responsibilities you have taken on, or additional education like a graduate degree or certification course you have completed.
Use online tools like Glassdoor and Indeed to find broad salary ranges based on job title and location, and use that data to establish a general salary range for your job title. Typically, a 3% raise is a reasonable amount to ask for, but it can be more or less depending on how your salary compares to industry standards and your own education and qualifications.
When discussing a raise, keep your ask simple. A few sentences will suffice. Start by introducing the topic of a salary increase. Then include a sentence about your time in your position and your biggest successes. Finish by reiterating both points — that you have done good work in your position and that you would like an increase in compensation.
Go Back to School
Your career planning or conversations with your manager about a raise may reveal that your opportunities for higher earning potential are limited by your education. While going back to school is a commitment that deserves careful consideration, earning a degree can open up doors for positions and compensation currently outside of your reach. A bachelor’s degree is a preferred qualification for many positions, and a graduate degree is an expectation for advancement in a number of high-paying industries like business, health care, and technology. With online and in-person options for earning a degree, education is attainable in almost every situation and location.
An On-Campus Education
If you have opportunities nearby for an on-campus education or are willing to relocate, a degree earned in-person is a classic way to increase your ability to earn a higher salary. Many universities offer evening or weekend classes for students who work full-time, or you can go the traditional route and complete a degree full-time in-person.
Earning an Online Degree
Online degrees are an increasingly popular way to get an education without having to be on campus. It has never been easier to earn your education online. Online degrees offer flexibility and convenience that an in-person degree can’t, which is especially necessary for parents or professionals who would need to juggle earning their degree with other responsibilities.
Going back to school is a big decision that can be made a little easier with the popularity and possibility of online education. There are a number of industries where having a graduate degree is a requirement for advancement, but it can be intimidating, and cost-prohibitive, to go back to school after years of working and with more responsibilities than when you earned a bachelor’s degree. Online graduate degrees can address many of these concerns with education that is more flexible and popular with other adults navigating multiple responsibilities. Most universities have additional resources and programs in place to help adults achieve a degree. Online options for graduate degrees vary by institution but include online masters, doctorate, and specialty degrees.
Seek Other Employment
If you’re in a job where your opportunities for advancement (and the associated salary increase) aren’t available, it may be time to start looking for new employment elsewhere. While finding a new job can be an uncertain process, there is no harm in looking at job boards in your state or local area and considering the options.
Be strategic about your job hunting. Make sure that your resume is up to date and lists any degrees or certifications you have earned, past employment relevant to positions you’re applying for, and specific examples of how you succeeded in those positions. Job hunting is a great time to take advantage of services offered to alumni by any universities you’ve attended.
Don’t Get Discouraged
It is frustrating to earn less money than you would like or need, but earning a higher salary is possible with a plan. Consider your situation and what options and opportunities you have in your area. Think about where you would like to be in a year, in five years, and the job title and salary you would like to have. Once you have a plan in place, taking the first step is easier.
If your plan includes continuing your education to increase your salary potential, look for a university that offers degree areas that will benefit your career advancement path and has a strong history of online offerings. With more than 60 online graduate programs, a rich history in online education, and some of the lowest online school tuition and fees in the state, FHSU Online might be just the place to help you step up.
Fort Hays State University