Factors Influencing Salary

It's very difficult to identify just one salary figure for each career. The truth be known, salaries vary dramatically - even within the same occupation. Two workers, each with the same position and job responsibilities, may earn different salaries. So why do salaries vary so much, even within the same career field? Employers typically adjust what they're willing to pay an employee based on several factors. Below we'll explore some of the more obvious factors, such as experience and education level, and some of the not so obvious factors, such as shift differentials and performance reviews, that influence how much you can earn as a professional.

Geographic Location
Not surprisingly, geographic location is one of the biggest factors when it comes to how much you can earn in a given profession. For example, a police officers working in New Jersey can expect to earn roughly $70,000 a year. That same police officer in Wyoming will make just over $40,000 a year, just over half what he'd earn in New Jersey. The same holds true for many other professions as well. As a rule of thumb salaries are going to be higher in larger cities such as New York, Chicigo, and San Franciso, than they are in more rural locations. However, it's important to remember that the cost of living in rural areas like Green River, Wyoming than in much less than it is in big cities.

What industry you work in can have big impact on how much you earn. An accountant employed by the public school system, regardless of how hard they work, isn't going to make a much as an accountant that rises to the level of partner at Ernst & Young. Likewise, a lawyer working as a public prosecutor isn't going to earn as much as a successful defense attorney working for a private firm. Even within the same occupation, the industry you choose to work in will greatly influence your earning potential. If you want to maximize your earning potential, you'll want to determine which industries offer the best opportunity for your chosen profession.

According to a 2013 report published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), education still pays. Statistics show that for every additional level of education a worker achieves, their earning potential increases. On average, workers with a high school diploma earn more than those without a diploma. Workers with a 4-year bachelor's degree earn more than those with a 2-year associate's degree. Workers with a master's degree earn more than those with a bachelor's degree, and so on and so forth. Increasing your level of education will help you earn more and it will open the door to positions that offer higher earning potential.

Negotiation tip: If your education more than qualifies you for a job, emphasize how and why your education uniquely qualifies you for the position when you're called in for an interview.

It's been said that there's no substitute for experience - and that's probably true. Experience plays a large part in how much you can earn as a professional. At the end of the day, you'll earn what you're worth. A trial lawyer who has proven himself or herself again and again is going to make much more than young rookie lawyer who has never won a case. Along with experience comes reputation. Usually, the more experience you have, the better you're reputation will be - assuming that your good at what you do. As you gain a reputation, there will be more clients, customers, and employers on your doorstep who will be willing to pay you top dollar for your services. Typically, top earners within an occupation will have 10+ years of experience.

Negotiation tip: If have slightly more education than is required for a position, emphasize it during the interiew. However, if you have too much experience, you may want to focus on your other qualifications for the job so you don't come off overqualified.

Performance Reports
Many employers based how much they're willing to pay a worker based on review of performance reports. Performance reports may be particularly important for current employees who are being considered for a pay raise or promotion. However, prospective employers may also make hiring and salary offer decisions based on performance reports from a job seekers previous employer.

Negotiation tip: If you have performed exceptionally well, emphasize this fact when requesting a promotion or applying for a new position. A written performance report, or even a letter of recommendation from a previous employer, will go a long way toward solidifying your value to your current or prespective employer.

The Boss
The more you're able to impact the success of a company, the better position you'll be in to demand higher compensation. If you're in charge of many employees, you're likely to be compensated based on the over success of your division or department. Conversely, if the team you oversee doesn't perform well, they're a high likelihood that your could experience a pay decrease, or at minimum loose your performance bonsus. If you're not the boss but report to the boss, a favorable recommendation from him will go a long way to ensuring your pay.

Negotiation tip: When considering a position, find out how much potential for growth the position has. You should also find out who the position reports to.

Associations and Certifications
Belonging to a professional trade association or earning a professional certification can positively influence earning potential. Having the right certification can set you apart from other employees and job seekers. Not having the right certification can have the opposite effect.

Negotiation tip: If you have a certification that is relevant but not required, point this out during a job interview or performance review.

Hazardous Working Conditions
Typically, when workers are required to work under hazardous conditions or perform dangerous tasks they're paid more. Police who volunteer to work in a dangerous section of town, demolision experts who transport explosives, engineers who handle sensitive chemicals on a routine basis and heavy machinery operators are all examples of workers who can earn an additional premium for the risk they assume.

Negotiation tip: If asked to perform a hazardous assignment, ask for hazardous pay. If you want to earn more, you can also volunteer for hazardous assignments withing your field.

Shift Differentials
Workers who are willing to work less favorable shifts often earning a premium for doing so. Due to the higher social and physical costs of working outside of normal hours, workers are paid more to compensate them for their sacrifice.

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