6 Tricks to Get You the Salary You Deserve

Whether your goal is a raise after 10 years in the same position or you're a potential new hire preparing a counteroffer, talking about money can be uncomfortable, and salary negotiation is an art. To help you master it, here is a roundup of research- and expert-based tips and insights to equip your negotiating toolkit.

University President Shares Salary With School’s Lowest Paid Workers

It’s not everyday that a college president decides to take a $90,000 pay cut for the benefit of low-wage workers. Last week however, Raymond Burse, interim president of Kentucky State University, did just that. His decision sets a new precedent amongst presidents and CEOs to raise the bar on livable wages for employees.

NFL Players Earn More in a Day than You Earn in a Year

Our society seems generally content with elite professional athletes earning millions more than the average worker. If an athlete can get paid to play adult recess at a high level, good for them. Who wouldn’t want to make loads of money to throw a ball or shoot a puck?

Pay Goes Nowhere After 40

In a recent project with blogger/career guru Penelope Trunk, we examined the age at which salaries top out. It turns out pay goes essentially nowhere after age 40. Of course there are some differences across gender, degree level and jobs, but the real lesson is don't expect a raise of any real value in the 25 or so years before retirement.

In this post I will discuss some interesting insights from the data, as well as how the age at which pay growth stops differs across various worker characteristics.

Are you earning what you are worth, given your experience, degrees, location and other critical factors that affect your pay? Find out with a free PayScale salary report.

Comp. Time and Overtime: Only After 45 Hours of Work a Week?

Things have been busy at PayScale - we have been adding new features to our flagship professional product, PayScale Insight, and our Research Center - so I haven’t had as much time to post on salary issues.

I did respond to a reader’s question about overtime; others might be interested in the question and answer:

I get paid a annual salary of $40,000. I am a maintenance person. I work on AC units and furnaces; I paint; I am a jack of all trades and a master of none. I work around 5 to 6 hrs overtime a week.

My employer says I can't get comp time until 45 hrs a week have been met; is this legal? I only get 1 hr comp time over 45 hrs. Should I get 1 1/2, if it is legal to allow the comp time over 45 hours? This must mean I’m non-exempt right? If I confront them with this issue, can they say you are exempt and work me to no end? Help!

These questions are about the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): what is a legal use of over-time, comp. time, etc.?

In this post, I will answer these, and also take a quick look at what FLSA says about breaks and meal time.

Wondering if you should be earning $40,000/year, like our "Jack" of all trades? Use the PayScale Salary Calculator to find out.

“Salaried, Non-Exempt:” When Hourly Rate is “Flexible”

The question of "salaried, non-exempt" jobs came up again in my inbox (I have changed a few details to make the email not personally identifiable):

My classification was Salary Non-Exempt, and I am being told that I will not receive time and one half pay for these hours, such as a Non-Exempt employee would have, but only "Half Time" due to the Salary Non-Exempt classification.

Half Time is calculated by taking the weekly salary amount ($800.00) and dividing it by 40 hours in the work week; which equals $20.00 per hour. For any time worked over the 40 (example: 10 hours worked over 40 in a week for a total of 50 hours) and dividing it into the normal salary amount of $800.00, giving $16.00 per hour, then dividing the $16.00 by half resulting in $8.00 per hour for any hour worked over 40, or "Half Time" versus the traditional time and one half, in this example $30.00/hour for time and one half.

Is this accurate? Legal? Do I have any recourse? I answered the phone and supervised no one, swept the floors and cleaned the toilets. Is Salary Non-Exempt even accurate and should I consider a separate complaint to correct it to Non-Exempt?

When I first read this, I thought paying only $8/hour for overtime had to be illegal under federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations.

However, I was wrong: the above pay is legal under federal law. In this post, as previously promised, I will address how salary, non-exempt, pay works.

Wondering if you should be earning $20/hour for answering phones and cleaning toilets? Use the PayScale Salary Calculator to find out.

Owner Operators Salaries – Children’s Playground Franchise

Name: John Anderson
Job Title: President - Owner Operator
Where: Tulsa, OK – United States
Employer: BounceU - Children's Playground Franchise
Years of Experience: 25 years
Relevant Experience: 15 years as a mortgage broker
Education: BS Business Administration
Annual Salary: See PayScale’s Research Center for median Owner Operator Salaries.

Looking for a new career where you could be the president of your own company? Ever thought of running your own franchise? For John Anderson, leaving the mortgage industry and owning a children's playground franchise was a wonderful change of pace. In this Salary Story, John shares the trials and tribulations of owning a children's playground franchise in Oklahoma.

The Wealthiest Celebrities vs. Regular People: Top 5 Overpaid Celebrities & CEOs

Some say hugely inflated salaries tell a lot about our cultural values – since it’s the teachers and waitresses of the world that go to the movies and buy new kitchen appliances, funding paychecks for the wealthiest celebrities and CEOs of the world. “What jobs pay makes a statement about what we value. As a culture, these disparities make shocking statements about which human activities are more valuable to us,” says Dr. Al Lee, PayScale.com’s director of quantitative analysis.

Is a Person’s Salary Considered Privacy Act Information?

Is a person's salary considered privacy act information?  SignOnSanDiego.com reported that the California Supreme Court ruled in favor a newspaper seeking government job info and salary numbers of public employees. The ruling said that the city of Oakland must release the names, records of termination and salaries of police officers (who earned more than $100,000 in 2004).

Police officer unions claimed that this information on salary and payment should remain confidential due to privacy. However, Chief Justice Ronald George stated: “Counterbalancing any cognizable interest that public employees may have in avoiding disclosure of their salaries is the strong public interest in knowing how the government spends its money." Should government job info and salary be made public?

Are you being paid fairly? Check your salary, privately, with our PayScale Salary Calculator.

Movie Actor Salaries, Are They Worth It?

With the Oscars around the corner, we will be hearing about movie actor salaries, which always seem to be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Few of the best picture nominees are big box office winners. Fortunately for us, George Clooney has decided to go more for "backend" (cut of profits) rather than fixed fees for his movies. If not, his standard fee of more than $15 million would have doubled the cost of "Michael Clayton", and likely scuttled the project.

Forbes.com reported on movie actor salaries, and calculated which stars actually deliver at the box office. Surprisingly, the best investment in movie actor salaries is Matt Damon. For every dollar The Bourne Ultimatum star is paid, Matt Damon's movies gross $29. Not bad, for a career that started with the minor role of Steamer, the goofy younger brother in "Mystic Pizza".

Back in 2004, The Bourne Supremacy grossed $290 million worldwide, plus another $165 million in video rentals and sales. Damon's total take for that film was $26 million, so that was a good investment for Universal Studios, as was the sequel, The Bourne Ultimatum.

What about female movie actor salaries? Jennifer Aniston's last three starring films have earned $17 to every dollar she was paid; The Break-Up grossed an estimated $270 million.

How does your salary compare, if not to the stars, to other working stiffs like you? Find out with our salary calculator.

Are PayScale Surgeon Salaries Off?

Chris, a reader, commented on the surgeon vs. football player salaries post, "Many of the average/base salaries for physicians/surgeons posted in this article are off by hundreds of thousands of dollars."

I am confident that the data points that make up our averages correspond to the actual salaries received by individual surgeons. In fact, even our broad average salaries compare well with other broad averages, like the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of all surgeon salaries by metropolitan area, when we select and group surgeons and geography in the same way.

Assuming Chris means his experience with surgeons' pay is very different from what we report, why are PayScale average surgeon salaries so "off"?

It comes down to which surgeons go into our averages, vs. the people Chris knows. In this post, I will look at what goes into "average" (median) surgeon salaries, why surgeon salaries vary so much, and why even a median may not really "typical."

Is your pay off by $100,000's? Use the PayScale salary survey to find out.