• Nursing Careers: Become a Registered Nurse
    Name: Michele
    Job Title: Registered Nurse / Nursing Coordinator
    Where: Ellisville, MO
    Years of Experience: 5 years as Nursing Coordinator, 20 years as Registered Nurse
    Other Relevant Experience: Various CNA, Rehabilitation, and RN positions, including Hospital, Rehab, Home Health Aide, Hospice and Home Care, Charge Nurse, Evening Supervisor, Staff Development Coordinator, and Nurse Assessor for LTC Policies.
    Annual Salary: See the PayScale Research Center for median nursing salary data.

    Nursing careers are appealing for many reasons. One positive aspect of nursing careers is the opportunity to serve others through medical treatment and rehabilitation. Nursing careers also boast a glowing job outlook that has consistently risen along with increasing demand for registered nurses. Plus, nursing careers offer a wide range of employment options within various sectors of the health care field. When you become a registered nurse, you open the door to a variety of nursing career paths, including forensic nursing careers, traveling nurse careers, and nurse coordinator careers.

    For the following Salary Story, we take a brief look at the career path of Michele, a registered nurse with 20 years of experience in the health care field. Interested in medicine and health care from a young age, Michele originally built up her knowledge and expertise as a registered nurse before moving to her current position as a nursing coordinator. She now teaches classes and provides management to nursing staff. Learn what an upper-level nursing career is like, and use PayScale’s research center to explore registered nurse salaries and get information on becoming a nurse.

  • 10 Jobs with Great Employee Rewards
  • College Salary Report: Why No Advanced Degrees?

    In my last post, University Graduate Salaries: Which Schools Payoff?, I discussed the methodology behind PayScale's College Salary Report: Best Colleges & Degrees.

    Advanced degrees in medicine and, to a lesser extent, in law, business, and other fields, can increase a bachelor's degree graduate's future earnings by opening up high paying jobs that are not otherwise accessible.

    We left out graduates who earn advanced degrees when calculating the average salaries used to compare schools and degrees. Why? I'll look at the answer in this post.

    Are you being paid like an employee with a doctorate in Medicine, or in English? Use the PayScale Salary Calculator to discover whether that advanced degree means more pay in your current career, or whether you should look for a new one.

  • Personal Trainer to Small Business Owner

    Name: Bonnie Katz
    Job Title: Small Business Owner, Personal Trainer
    Where: Fitness Together - West Seattle Personal Training
    Years of Experience: 10 years in personal training, 4 years being a small business owner.
    Education: Cornish College of the Arts - BFA, Renton Technical College - Health and Fitness Technology
    Annual Salary: The national average salary of a small business owner with 10-19 years of experience is $70,372. The average salary of a personal trainer with 10-15 years of experience is approximately $23.00/hour.

    For most personal trainers, the term "average salary" doesn't really apply. The majority of personal trainers are paid by the hour. Because personal training is a one-on-one activity, many personal trainers choose to ditch the gym and work for themselves, a smart decision that will most likely increase a personal trainer's salary. The average salary of a personal trainer is highest when self-employed, a difference of over $10 an hour.

    In this Salary Story, Bonnie Katz offers advice on working as a personal trainer and becoming a small business owner. She gives an insider's look at owning a personal training business and discusses the top challenges she faces as small business owner. If you're into fitness, don't miss this inspiring interview!

  • What Is the Minimum Wage in the United States, and Is It Fair?

    If you've recently asked the question, what is the minimum wage in the United States?" you might be surprised to learn it went up again -- from $5.85/hour to $6.55/hour -- on July 24. (Editor's note: as of 2015, minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.) After all, the federal minimum wage was $5.15 for a decade, until last year, when legislation mandated three increases over three years. In 2009, the minimum wage will rise again, to $7.25. In calculating the yearly earnings of a minimum-wage earner at the current rate, it comes out to about $13,100/year (before taxes). That hardly seems like a reasonable income, even if you're living in a very low cost-of-living area. It also invites a few questions: Should there be a minimum wage law? Is the current law fair?

  • Personal Budgeting Strategies: How Americans are Managing Stagnant Pay in Tough Times

    As economic concerns among families persist, workers struggle to make the most of their incomes and refuse to give up their summer vacations.

    Kate McLaughlin’s paycheck doesn’t stretch far enough these days.

    “We already take the subway to work, walk to the library and post office, and drive used (9 and 18 year old) cars,” says McLaughlin, a cooperative education coordinator at Northeastern University in Boston, who’s been forced to tighten down her personal budgeting strategies. “The main change my husband and I have made is to stop using our credit card for gas, grocery shopping and eating out … We just set aside a certain amount of cash for food and gas at the beginning of the month (literally, one envelope for food and one envelope in each car for gas) and that’s what we have.”

    The McLaughlins aren’t the only family feeling the economic pressures of rising food and gas prices.  More families are curbing their spending habits, and developing personal budgeting strategies. What’s putting the squeeze on the McLaughlins and other workers? The uptick in food and gas prices plays an important part, experts say. As of Aug. 11, rising gas prices brought the average cost of gas to $3.81/gallon, up $1.04 from a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration.

    The USDA’s Economic Research Service expects rising food prices to increase 4.5 to 5.5 percent in 2008. Over the last 15-20 years, food-price inflation has been around 2.5 percent per year, according to USDA economist Ephraim Leibtag. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says in June, average weekly earnings when adjusted for inflation were down 2.4 percent from a year ago.

    If your paycheck isn’t stretching far enough these days, consider switching to a high paying career, asking for a raise, or using personal budgeting strategies. 

    Here are more ways Americans are using personal budgeting strategies to navigate fiscally uncertain times. Keep reading--you might be surprised.

  • IT Careers - Database Administrator

    Name: Chris
    Job Title: Junior Database Administrator
    Where: Chicago, IL - USA
    Years of Experience: 1
    Other Relevant Experience: Worked at same company for five years, in other department.
    Education: I'm finishing up my Bachelor's in Computer Science and I have a Liberal Arts BA.
    Annual Salary: Curious about IT salaries? Use PayScale's Research Center to find a database administrator salary by employer and database administrator salary by experience.

    IT Careers - Database Administrator

    After the bursting of the "IT bubble" in the late nineties, people were asking, "how stable is an IT career?" But current data suggests that an escalating number of IT jobs are available for the picking. In fact, many of the best compensated IT jobs are with companies that have emerged from the dot-com crash as industry leaders. Just take a look at the company salary data for Yahoo and employee compensation data for Google.

    In this Salary Story, we'll take a look at one of the hottest IT jobs available: database administrator. Database administrator careers are forecasted to be one of the fastest growing careers in the next decade. In the following interview, Chris, a junior database administrator, shares how he landed an entry-level IT job and offers advice on how to break into the field.

  • Fastest Growing Careers: IT Careers and Health Care Jobs

    The information technology and health care industries are clamoring for more skilled workers. How can you become one of them?

    Everyone dreams of a career with a handsome salary, one promising boundless growth and loads of opportunities. But these careers belong to a privileged few, and they demand years of nonstop study and training. Right?

    Not necessarily.

    The fastest growing careers, such as IT jobs and health care jobs, offer good pay and are crying out for more skilled workers with technical know-how and soft skills. They’re not just open to recent college graduates. They’re accessible to career-changers, too, and getting started doesn’t always require a four-year degree, experts say—but you must be dedicated, willing to devote time and energy so your foray becomes a success. The fastest growing careers don’t always mean easy careers.

    Prior to getting started, research your options and find out what the fastest growing careers entail.

    “Before you make a choice of what job you want to do, it’s important for adults to job-shadow or find out as much as possible about the job,” notes Dr. James Jacobs, president of Macomb Community College in Michigan. Basing your decision on information from TV or friends isn’t sufficient, he says.

  • Why Graduates of the Best Ivy League Schools Earn More

    Coveting entry to the best Ivy League schools is an American tradition. A recent PayScale study adds another reason to chase acceptance: Ivy League grads out-earn their liberal-arts colleagues. According to the study, the median starting salary for Ivy League graduates is 32 percent higher than what liberal arts graduates earn. So why do graduates of the best Ivy League schools make more than graduates of other schools?

    One reason could be the connections. New Ivy Leaguers are welcomed into a circle of some of the wealthiest, most powerful and connected people, including very distinguished lists of alumni. An acquaintance of mine who has spent time working at Harvard, Stanford, Yale and Duke recently told me that at Harvard, for example, once you're in, the Harvard circle does everything in its power to make sure you succeed--and keep succeeding throughout life. Others offer different reasons for why graduates of the best Ivy League schools make the big bucks. David Wise, a senior consultant at Hay Group Inc., a global management-consulting firm based in Philadelphia, says "Ivy Leaguers probably position themselves better for job opportunities that provide them with significant upside."

  • University Graduate Salaries: Which Schools Pay Off?

    PayScale just released a College Salary Report: Best Colleges & Degrees. With my able associate Erica Sanders, I had a great time digging through our extensive data to understand whether graduates of different schools have different long-term salaries.

    What makes our data so unique is that we have the jobs people are doing now - 5, 10, 20 or more years after they attended their undergraduate institution - and what these graduates are being paid now.

    There are other surveys that track recent graduate salaries, and we can do that too. (See my post on Starting Salaries for College Grads.) We also have previously mined our college data for March Madness (Alumni Salaries vs. NCAA Championships), to mixed success in predicting the outcome of the Men's basketball tournament. :-)

    In this post, I'll look at our College Salary Report - Best Colleges and Degrees methodology, what the different salaries mean, and apologize to Temple University, Weber State University, and Claremont McKenna College for not including them in our report :-)

    College degree or not, are you earning as much as you could? Use the PayScale Salary Calculator to discover what employees like you are earning.

  • Current Unemployment Rate Hits Four-Year High

    The current unemployment rate edged up to 5.7 percent in July, hitting a four-year high, while nonfarm payrolls were down 51,000 jobs. This marks the seventh straight month companies have shed workers, but the national unemployment rate wasn't as severe as expected: economists had been anticipating 75,000 layoffs. Analysts on TV news reports offered mixed reviews of the Labor Department report, with several saying the news isn't great, but it shows a resilient economy weathering the storm.

    Still, others say current unemployment rates conceal the true toll of the fickle economy, which can be seen in people working part-time jobs by no choice of their own. In July, the number of people working part time for economic reasons jumped by 308,000 to 5.7 million, an increase of 1.4 million over the last year. This includes people who want to work full time but resorted to part time because their hours had been cut, or they were unable to find full-time jobs.

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