From cranky bosses to impossible deadlines, it’s not hard to feel undervalued at work. The real question is: Are you underpaid? Making your worth is important not only because it will help your sanity but also because it’s a crucial component of financial freedom. With an average inflation rate of 3%, you need to make sure that your salary is keeping up with the changing value of the dollar.
Some Ballpark Figures (And Lots of Voyeurism)
Salaries will vary greatly by region—in addition to profession—so we’ve given you a small taste of our findings by listing out the average salaries of common professions. We’ve broken the figures down into big cities on each end of the country (and the middle): New York, Chicago, and Seattle. Obviously, this is intended only as a frame of reference, since every situation is different. Salaries are listed in thousands.
Here’s how to find out if you’re being underpaid:
Talk to a Mentor
It’s important to have a mentor at work with whom you can speak candidly. Ask tactfully to see if she can clue you in to the salary range for other positions like yours. If you don’t currently have a mentor close enough to ask, think about people you can aim to develop relationships with in the future.
Look at Other Openings Within Your Company
If your company is hiring another mid-level computer programmer like you, check the job description or ask casually around the office to find out whether you’re being paid in the same range.
This great resource can help you find an average salary range for people with your job title. Bring this information to your negotiations. Industry websites will also give you an idea for what people in your industry are making. (We like mediabistro.com for media careers.)
Be Tactful Around Coworkers
Money is a sensitive subject, and common social graces would tell us not to talk about salary with coworkers—after all, doing so can make for awkward conversations if you find out that you make a lot more or less than someone with a similar title. We do not want you to do anything that could get you in trouble, so don’t break official rules or talk about your salary if you signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Know When It Is Okay to Talk Salaries
Not talking about money benefits your boss far more than it benefits you. As long as you don’t break any rules, we’re not opposed to your conquering the faux pas around money by bringing up the conversation—very tactfully—with a close friend at work. The important thing to remember is that a big difference in salaries is probably not a sign of how much your employer values you; the difference almost always comes down to who was a better negotiator. Treat this as a learning experience and always remember to negotiate for your worth.