Texas employers are facing unprecedented staffing challenges right now as they ramp up past the pandemic. With this sudden shift to worker-friendly market—along with cost-of-living increases across the board—you might be wondering if it’s time to insist on a higher wage. It could be, but you need to be thoughtful about your approach—and care about falling into some emerging traps. Here’s a look at where the top pay trends for Texas jobs reside as well as tips on how to compare your salary and when to know it’s time to negotiate.
What’s Your Best Bet?
In Austin, the top jobs remain tech jobs. From software developers to data scientists, DevOps engineers and more, it pays to be a tech worker in the city. In fact, Austin was recently identified as the top U.S. city for tech salaries in 2019, with a remarkable 10% annual increase.
This list of the top tech jobs in Austin can give you an idea of what tech careers are the most fulfilling (for your mind, heart, AND pockets). And if you’re worried about needing an expensive degree, fear not: Many tech companies have changed their degree requirements. Check out our recent article covering the trend for employers.
Texas as a whole has become a tech center, with tech jobs reigning in many metro areas throughout the Lonestar State. For example, Dallas jumped six spots to rank second only to Austin in CompTIA’s most recent Tech Town Index of the strongest job centers in the U.S. for technology jobs. But other industries drive innovation, too, which means that throughout Texas, jobs in aerospace engineering, biotech and life sciences, healthcare, chemical engineering, finance and manufacturing can be high-earners.
How Do You Compare Your Salary?
The first clue that it’s time for higher wages is in the timing. How long has it been since your last pay increase? If it’s been two or more years, you’re likely due for higher wages due to the cost of living, which has risen at an alarming rate lately. (The house prices in Austin have risen 15% in less than a year, after all.)
If you’ve stayed in the same field for a while—and especially if you’ve stayed in the same job—your experience has grown, too. Generally speaking, the difference between entry level and two years’ experience is a dramatic 32% average salary increase. A person’s salary doubles their starting salary by the time they cross the 10-year mark, reports Salary Explorer.
If you suspect your salary has remained unreasonably stagnant, do your research. The Texas Workforce Commission offers several tools to find wage trends, but you can also look at Glassdoor, PayScale and other sites. If your salary falls below both the average and the median—as Salary Explorer shows here—it may be time for you to ask for more or find a job that pays better.
Be careful, though, to not compare apples to oranges. Places like Google and Apple are prized places to work and can offer enticing pay, but many positions in tech and sales are contract versus permanent roles.
“There’s more to compensation than money. If you’re otherwise happy at your job and you’ve received wage increases on a regular (or semi-regular) basis, consider the other benefits that you’re getting as well, particularly if you’re considering leaving a permanent position for a contract position,” cautions The HT Group Founder and CEO Mark Turpin. “An important point to keep in mind is that—beyond compensation—the first jobs to be eliminated when things slow down are contract positions.”
Negotiating for More
If you’re negotiating a starting salary with a new employer, follow these steps for getting the best offer. Working with a recruiter can help, too.
“This early negotiation is critical because you can’t expect to easily catch up over time,” Turpin adds.
Glassdoor reports that the average U.S. worker could be earning about $7,500 more per year if it weren’t for the compounding effect of a low initial salary sometime in their past. Some studies even estimate that failing to negotiate can cost up to $600,000 over a career.
“The plain truth is that employers are willing to give even amazing employees a 2% to 4% annual raise. Compare that to an average 10% to 20% raise when switching jobs altogether. It’s definitely during that initial salary negotiation when your bargaining power is at its strongest,” we’ve discovered.
But if you want to stay loyal to your current employer, don’t panic. Instead:
- Do your research. Be sure to understand how your salary measures up to current trends and your cost of living by digging into the salary calculators we mention above and using these tips to understand your value and determine your worth.
- Revisit your pandemic pay agreement. If you accepted a reduced salary at the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to ask about “catching up” to where you should be. This previous blog post holds some insights.
- Understand your rights. Your employer needs to follow the law when it comes to minimum wage, overtime, and your worker classification (independent contractor versus employee pay). There are also equal pay laws in place to protecting against compensation discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.
- Be reasonable and tactful. Your timing, what you ask for, and how you ask all matter. It’s important to understand that your employer may still be facing other high pandemic-related costs—including supply price surges and safety measure costs. Consider these 9 Things You Should Never Say When Asking for a Raise from Salary.com before speaking up.
Employers fully understand the value of great workers right now. Those who have you don’t want to lose you, so it might be great time to recalibrate your wages and/or other compensation, particularly if you feel you’re not working at market value. If you’re job searching, understand the compensation trends right now and hone your negotiating skills. We can help.
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