Career Advice

What Should My Entry-Level Salary Be?

Determining the right salary if you’re an entry-level worker can be a tricky task. Find out what to expect your entry level pay to be here!

Michael Yan
Published: (Updated: ) - 7 min read

Photo by PiggyBank / Unsplash

As a fresh graduate or someone new to the job market, it can be challenging to know how to approach salary negotiations. In this post, we will guide you through the process of researching your industry, refining your resume, and asking your peers for advice. We will also provide tips on how to negotiate your pay and highlight some of the highest-paying entry-level positions. Whether you're just starting out or looking to make a change, this post will give you the tools and knowledge you need to negotiate a fair and competitive salary.

Tips for Determining Your Entry-Level Salary

Determining your entry-level salary can be tricky, especially if you're new to the job market. However, by following a few key tips, you can increase your chances of getting a fair and competitive salary. One of the most important things to do is to research your industry and the salaries that are typical for entry-level positions. This will give you a baseline for what you should expect to earn, and can help you to understand what is considered a fair salary in your field.

Additionally, it is essential to refine your resume and skills so that you can demonstrate your value to potential employers. Highlighting your education, experience, and relevant skills will help you to stand out from other candidates and increase your chances of getting a higher salary. It is also important to talk to your peers and get their insight into what entry-level salaries are like in their industry and company. Asking for advice and learning about the salary range will help you to know what to expect and what to negotiate.

Here are some simple, highly-effective tips to help you familiarize yourself with what the average starting salary in your industry looks like:

  1. Research the average salary for your industry and position: Use websites such as Glassdoor, Levels.fyi, and Payscale to research the average salary for your specific industry and position. This will give you a good baseline to determine what you should expect to earn as a starting salary.
  2. Look at job ads in your area: Look at job ads in your area and note the salary range for the positions you are interested in. This will give you an idea of what companies in your area are offering for similar positions.
  3. Network with professionals in your field: Reach out to professionals in your field and ask them about their experiences with starting salaries. They may be able to give you a more accurate picture of what to expect in your specific industry and location.
  4. Take note of location: Keep in mind that salaries can vary significantly depending on location. Research the average salary for your position in the specific area you are looking for a job.
  5. Be realistic: Keep in mind that as an entry-level employee, your starting salary may be lower than that of more experienced professionals. Be realistic about your expectations and focus on finding a job that will provide you with the opportunity to grow and develop your skills.

Do Research into Your Industry

Salaries of all kinds, whether they’re for entry-level jobs or even more senior positions, are affected by the fluctuations of the industry they’re in. Make sure to research what the main companies in your industry are paying in terms of salaries and whether they’re keeping up with inflation or not. Industry norms also shift depending on where companies are based so make sure to keep your research area specific. Some states, such as Alaska and Hawaii will typically pay better for entry-level positions compared to others.

It's important to note that the salary for your position will be affected by the industry you're in. It's a good idea to research what the leading companies in your industry are paying in terms of salaries and if they are keeping up with inflation. Additionally, industry norms can vary depending on the location, so make sure to research specifically for the area you are looking for a job. For example, some states like Alaska and Hawaii may pay better for entry-level positions than others. This research will give you an idea of what is considered a fair salary in your specific industry and location, and will help you to negotiate a competitive salary.

Refine Your Resume and Emphasize Your Skills

A defining factor of your entry-level salary, or any salary at that, will be your education and experience. Make sure to refine your resume and skills so that you can see exactly where your strengths are in the context of the industry you’re aiming at. For example, computer science majors will get a boost in the tech industry, but they might not hold the same value in the design industry.

Look at your qualifications and see where you fit into the field. If you’re under or over-qualified compared to the general job requirements you’re seeing, that will likely affect the salary you’re offered. To give yourself the best chance, make sure to emphasize your value points wherever possible and prepare good answers for interviewers regarding any gap in your resume. Not having a certain skill level yet doesn’t have to put you out of the running if you can show that you’re willing to learn.

Your education and experience are also critical factors that determine your entry-level salary. Therefore, it is essential to refine your resume and skills to showcase your strengths and qualifications in relation to the industry you are aiming for. For example, computer science majors may be in high demand in the tech industry, but may not hold the same value in the design industry.

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Ask Your Peers

Talking about money can feel incredibly awkward, but it is a necessary evil, especially as you go into your first job. Without your own experience of an industry and the salaries they give out, you can rely on your peers to guide you.

Not only will this help you prepare for your own salary range, but it can give you a chance to benchmark and stretch the boundaries of your own expectations. It’s always better to have an idea of what you’re worth before you sit down and negotiate with a company, that way you can have all the information and the confidence to ask for the salary you deserve.

Use LinkedIn and other social platforms to reach out to people in your life who work in the same field so that you can get a sense of what an entry-level salary in your industry should be. If you know anyone who has even just gone through the interview process for jobs similar to the ones you’re applying for, speak to them. They may be able to shed some light on what companies are offering and give you a better idea of what you should be asking for.

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How to Negotiate Your Pay

Once you’ve gathered all the data, it’s time to negotiate your pay. Having adequate research to back up your ask is hugely valuable as it shows initiative and knowledge. It’s much harder to reject a salary request from some who knows what they’re talking about than someone who doesn’t.

We will say however that the wiggle room for an entry-level offer tends to be quite tight. You can bring up the financial goals that you need to be able to meet personally but your main comparison point will be other companies in the same industry. When you’re deciding whether to accept an offer or not, look at the whole deal. If they’re not offering great pay, is there at least the chance of gaining great experience? That might be the thing you need to boost your chances in the next paycheck negotiation.

Highest Paying Entry-Level Positions

It's important to keep in mind that entry-level salaries can vary greatly depending on factors such as location, experience, age, and education. However, certain positions tend to offer higher starting salaries.

For example, Real Estate agents and Sales Associates typically have a commission-based salary, which means the earning potential is much higher - sometimes reaching up to $70,000 per year, similar to entry-level accountants. Other fields such as UX design and Environmental Engineering, being newer and more niche, may offer starting salaries of up to $90,000. Additionally, positions such as Financial Analysts and Marketing Specialists may have a starting salary range of $50,000-$60,000, but have significant earning potential as you gain experience.

Ultimately, the best entry-level salaries are typically found in technical and business fields such as engineering, finance, accounting, and marketing. Don’t forget to research the cost of living in the area you’re considering, as this will affect the actual salary you receive. Remember, no matter what salary you're offered, there's always room for negotiation. With research and preparation, you can ensure that you get the salary you deserve.

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Just starting out in your career? Take a look at our list of entry-level positions for new graduates here!

Consider Perks and Benefits

Some entry-level salaries, though tight, will come with great perks and benefits. Things like medical coverage, great leave, or even just networking opportunities are all value points that are just as important to take note of as the money on offer.

Whenever you’re looking at entry-level salaries, keep the bigger picture in mind. There are plenty of industries that won’t offer much at the beginning but as you develop your skills and experience, you can expect to see a big difference in your salary. Pay attention to the quality of experience you’ll be getting – the money matters, but the skills and people you’ll be exposed to matter too. It’s that kind of thinking that will allow you to not only start your career but set it up for the long term.

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