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By Khalilah Starks

Money, money, money! We all want more, right? Well, even in a tight employment market, you can get more money and dramatically increase your salary. And, when I say dramatic, I mean double digit percentage increases. Yes, it’s possible and I’ve seen it firsthand.

Here are three things that you can do to get that huge increase that you’ve been hoping for:

1. Know Your Value

Something that’s probably preventing you from earning a higher salary is the lack of knowledge around your financial worth. If you’ve been working at the same company for several years, it’s highly likely that your salary is not competitive with the market because market salary rates tend to increase more aggressively than internal salary rates.  So, while you’ve been inching along with your yearly 3% increases, the market has probably increased more aggressively.

There are several tools out there, such as, to help you determine your worth. These tools will provide you with a salary range based on your position and geographical location. Are you making significantly less than what you’re worth? If so, you’ll want to develop a strategy to ask for a raise from your current employer or consider taking your talents to another company where you’ll be compensated in line with your market worth.

2. Find a New Job

If you’re looking for that dramatic increase (20 – 100%), there’s a big chance that you won’t get it at your current company.  Salary increases typically take place during annual performance review time. You’ll get a 3% increase for a job well done. Walk on water and you’ll get a 5-6% increase. Notice I said “walk on water”, because it doesn’t happen often. Get promoted and you’ll see about 7% (10% if you’re company is generous). Now, there are some pretty generous companies out there that will give 15-20% for a promotion. But, the reality is, many are not.

Important Note: It’s absolutely imperative that you know what you’re worth when negotiating salary so that you get the best deal at the beginning because, as  you can see, many companies become extremely tight with the money once you become an employee.

3. Get a Degree

This is definitely the most time consuming of the strategies that I’ve mentioned. But, I had to include because continuing education is one of the guaranteed ways to dramatically increase your salary. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, a college graduate can expect to earn $2.3 million over a lifetime, where a high school graduate can expect to earn $1.3 million. Doctoral graduates can expect to earn $3.3 million. But, all degrees aren’t created equal in financial value. Select a top school in your area of interest and you’ll claim a higher salary with more employment opportunities. Companies heavily recruit and compete for talent at the top schools, so your income and job potential will be greater at these schools.

Top school doesn’t necessarily mean Harvard either. It’s all about finding the most competitive programs in your area of interest.  No matter what degree you’re looking to pursue, there are many schools to choose from. But, the more respected the program, the more income potential. The US News & World Report offers rankings for colleges and is great place to research top programs across various disciplines. From there, you can contact the schools to find out starting salaries and placement rates for graduates.


How to Ask For a Raise

How Much Are You Worth?

Evaluating and Negotiating Your Offer

Keeping Silent on Your Salary Requirements