• 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.

  • CEO Salaries: What Is the Average Salary of a CEO?
  • List of Best College Degrees by Salary: What Is Your Major Worth?

    A PayScale.com Special Report: A college degree can cost serious cash -- sometimes without the promise of a big salary payoff. Find out what the best college degrees are for high starting salaries.

    For what it costs, a B.A. degree might as well be made of gold. For the 2007-2008 school year, the cost of a four-year degree from a public university is $6,185, according to the College Board. And while most students pay less than $9,000 a year, costs at private colleges and universities can skyrocket beyond $33,000 for tuition, room and board.

    But beyond the rewards of learning, how will that pricey degree pay you back? A recent report on the best college degrees by salary from PayScale.com shows how starting total cash compensation (base salary plus commission, bonus, profit sharing and other forms of cash earnings) stacks up by major.

    Degrees Degrees
    Annual pay for Bachelors graduates without higher degrees. Typical starting graduates have 3 years of experience; mid-career have 15.5 years. See full methodology for more.
  • What Is an Intrinsic Satisfaction on the Job--Big Money, or Big Happiness?

    Choosing a college major is no easy feat. Students strive to pick paths that will bring both money and happiness when they launch into the workforce--but there's no guarantee all high salary careers will be enjoyable, or that the top careers for job satisfaction pay well. This conflict begs a question about future careers: What is an intrinsic satisfaction on the job--earning good money, or being happy? Does making big bucks guarantee happiness?

    Experts and workers say what is an intrinsic satisfaction on the job varies depending on the individual, but most agree money doesn't buy anyone happiness. For example, a student who's good at math and science may be well-suited for high salary careers such as computer engineering or electrical engineering. He might end up pursuing these paths because he knows he can succeed and make money, even though he'd prefer to pursue sociology, which pays less. Steve Rothberg, president and founder of CollegeRecruiter.com, a job board for students and recent graduates, says many young adults take this tack, forgetting to consider what jobs they'd like to do and what is an intrinsic satisfaction on the job for them.

    "That is the piece I find missing from the job-search process most. People tend to think just because they’re good at something, they should be employed in that field. If you're good at numbers, be an accountant, right? No, not necessarily," Rothberg says. If you're good at numbers and enjoy writing software code, he suggests following that path instead of accounting.

  • Gender Pay Gap: 10 High Paying Jobs for Women

    Have you ever wondered why there’s a gender pay gap  between men  and women? “Why do women make less money than men?” is a surprisingly common career question. Even more surprising: according to bestselling author and gender issues expert, Dr. Warren Farrell, in some fields women are now bringing home bigger paychecks than men.

    If you think men always earn more than women, you’re wrong.

    That’s according to a book by Farrell titled Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap—and What Women Can Do About It, which says women in certain fields earn more than men. According to Farrell’s website, the book shows how the gender pay gap is not about gender discrimination in the workplace, but about “25 differences between men and women’s work-life decisions.” Not only does Farrell’s book discuss the issues of equal pay for women, but it also strives to help women achieve higher pay and understand the tradeoffs involved—and whether they’re worth it.

  • Jobs with Good Vacation Plans

    For some folks, time off from work can be just as important as salary. Fortunately, there are careers that allow you to take more time off than the average Joe who might get two weeks. In fact, some careers offer two to three months off. Jobs with good vacation plans are out there, you just need to know where to look.

    However, increased free time often comes with increased risk. If your idea of a fun vacation is being paid, and having a job to come back to, some of these options may not be for you.

    How does your salary compare to jobs with good vacation plans? Find out with PayScale's full salary survey.

  • Accounting Careers: Speaking the Language of Business

    Name: Toni Miller
    Job Title: Accounting Manager
    Where: Kent, WA - USA
    Years of Experience: 15
    Education: High school and some college
    Annual Salary: Interested in accounting careers or an auditing career? See PayScale's Research Center to learn more about careers in accounting and accounting salaries.

    Accounting involves more than just crunching numbers. Businesses use accounting methods to translate their day-to-day activities into financial variables, and then analyze issues such as efficiency and productivity. The idea of analyzing financial information may cause some people to yawn, but accounting careers can be both challenging and rewarding. In this Salary Story, you'll meet Toni Miller, an accounting manager who plays an important role in her company. Actually, her job involves several roles and numerous responsibilities, as Toni describes in the following interview.

    Toni offers advice on how to prepare for an accounting career and what to expect from an accounting manager position. She gives an insider's look at what accounting careers are really like and discusses the top challenges she faces on the job. If you're a problem-solving whiz looking for a career in finance or business, don't miss this interview!

  • Top 10 List of High Paying Careers and Best Average Starting Salaries

    With the cost of living soaring, it makes sense that jobs offering the best starting salaries are increasingly sought-after -- by everyone from recent college graduates to career-changers. This article touts a handy list of high paying careers that might surprise you.

    By Cherie Berkley

    You may be striking out on a new career path, but that hopefully doesn’t mean your salary has to start low on the totem pole. PayScale.com has created the following list of high paying careers with the highest average starting salaries. Most all of these hot jobs has an average starting salary well over $50,000. So, with no further ado, here is a top ten list of high salary careers with the best starting salaries.

  • Web Designer Salary - Consultant

    Name: Wayne
    Job Title: Web Designer/Consultant
    Where: Vancouver, BC - Canada
    Current Employers: Goldrea  Resources Inc. Molycor Gold Corp., Rocher Deboule Minerals Corp., Adanac  Molybdenum Corp.
    Years of Experience: 5
    Education: Computer programming degree, multimedia design certificate, and master's degree.
    Other Relevant Experience: 15 years data processing.
    Annual Salary: What is the yearly salary for a web designer? See PayScale's Research Center for the starting salary for a web designer and to research more web designer career opportunities.

    Web Designer Salary - Consultant

    At one moment or another, everyone has dreamed of becoming their own boss. While it is certainly possible, some professions are more suitable than others when it comes to working from home.  If you're a police officer, chances are you won't be setting up shop from a home office any time soon. However, if you're involved in creative design or consulting, becoming your own boss may be more feasible.

    This salary story tells the career biography of a web site designer who provides web consultancy services to multiple businesses. As his own boss, Wayne only has one complaint - he has to boss himself around. But it's not all that bad considering that he not only sets his own hours, but also earns a decent web designer salary.

  • How Not to Use Online Social Networks: 6 Tips

    Online social networks are here to stay. One of every four people on the Web visits online social networks, and about half of social networkers are on the sites every day. As with any new technology, there is plenty to learn and do when it comes to online social networks, as I mentioned in a post last week.

    There is also plenty not to do, say experts and social networkers themselves. Here’s a list of tips about what to avoid when using online social networks for professional gain.

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