If you are currently seeking employment or anticipate doing so in the near future, it is a wise course to think about how you can maximize your earning potential. While it is true that you want to find employment in a field you love and you want to have a good work/life balance, when it comes right down to it, you also want to be compensated well financially for what you do.
It makes sense to embrace this way of thinking. In fact, it is the first step to achieving your financial goals. By actively working to increase your earning potential, you already have a competitive edge. Why? Because you are putting real thought into your career path. And that is always a good thing.
So, what can you do now to increase your future earning potential? Here are some tips to get you started:
1) Be confident.
Being confident is something you can do right away to increase your earning potential. If you are already employed and are looking to advance, confidence will spur you to make bold moves to show your worth to your company. Confidence helps you volunteer for that assignment that will get you noticed. It gives you the courage to take night classes to learn new skills that will be valuable in your chosen profession. It overcomes any reluctance you have to present a great idea to the boss. Confidence also enables you to negotiate for a raise when appropriate. Therefore, confidence is one of the first building blocks you can use to increase your earning potential.
2) Get a degree … or two.
If you are in a position to do so, one of the best ways to increase your earning potential is to increase your educational level. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, occupations that require more education are projected to grow faster than those occupations that require no education beyond high school. Take a look at these statistics, based on 2015 median wages and unemployment rates, to see how your earning potential increases as your educational level increases:
- High school diploma or equivalent: $36,210 annually; $678 weekly; 5.4 percent unemployment rate
- Some college, no degree: $33,870; $738 weekly; 5.0 percent unemployment rate
- Associate’s Degree: $50,230; $798 weekly; 3.8 percent unemployment rate
- Bachelor’s Degree: $70,400; $1,137 weekly; 2.8 percent unemployment rate
Of course, it’s not simply your educational level that determines your earning potential. For instance, a degree in French Literature will likely not net you as much money as a degree in Software Engineering. So, while it is good to follow your passion, it makes sense to choose your area of study wisely if you want your bottom line to stay in the black.
Your choice of school also matters. For example, take a look at this Paysa infographic about top university choices for tech talent, and read more about it here.
The takeaway here is that the more education you can get, the more likely you are to increase your earning potential. Even if you are not in a position to pursue a degree at the moment, taking classes to gain certifications in your current profession can bump your salary figures up a notch or two.
3) Learn a new language.
In a global job market, learning a new language can pay off in terms of increased earning potential as well. Being bilingual makes you more employable, and more useful to your employer once hired. The Economist points out that over the course of your career, learning another language may net you about 2 percent more than your uni-language competition. While that might not seem like much, over the course of a career, it can really add up.
4) Plan your trajectory.
To really increase your earning potential, it is important to plan ahead. Look not just at the position for which you are currently qualified, but at the position you want to have in 5, 10, or 20 years. What skills are needed for that future position? Work on acquiring those skills diligently.
You might be surprised at how easy it is to pick up the skills you need along the way when you have visualized a clear path. Some of these skills may be acquired through additional formal education, but others can be acquired through volunteer work, personal research, and networking.
5) Know what you are worth.
One area in which it is easy to drop the earnings ball is at the point of entry for a new position. It is important to do your research to see what your skill set and educational level is actually worth in the marketplace. Remember that where you start out compensation-wise largely affects where you will end up. Typically, salary increases are incremental in nature, so it makes sense to negotiate for the maximum amount your skills merit from the get-go.
How can you be sure you are negotiating on solid evidence? Make use of tools like Paysa to help you figure this out. Paysa compares salary information from top tech companies to help job seekers discover the skills needed, the educational requirements, and the typical market salary for positions with top tech companies.
6) Be flexible.
It is true that you want to keep your eye on the end goal. However, flexibility in your outlook and in your career is a great asset that will likely net you better returns than rigidity. Embracing a flexible attitude will help you to see opportunities where others see obstacles. Flexibility helps you navigate through negotiations, job changes, and career advancements with ease. It makes you more valuable to employers and more likely to be compensated well for the work you do.
The Bottom Line
You can increase your earning potential by paying attention to some essential work and life skills. First, be confident about who you are and where you belong. Second, get the education you need to accomplish your identified goals and embrace lifelong learning.
Widen out to acquire new skills such as learning a new language or getting certifications in your field that increase your value as an employee. Keep your eye on where you want to be 5, 10, or 20 years down the road and identify and acquire the skills you will need to get there. Do research to find out what you are worth as an employee now, and continue to make steady progress to become even more valuable in the future. When you follow these steps, you will reap the rewards of increased earnings throughout your career.