Salary Peaks: What You’ll Really Earn Over The Course Of Your Career

January 18, 2014  |  


You may think that with work experience your salary will just keep getting bigger and bigger. Not so. There are actually salary peaks — and a woman’s salary peaks before she hits 40!

An analysis from PayScale found that women’s pay peaks at age 39, and, depending on their median data, at around $60,000. While you may have increases after this, the pay jumps will hardly ever outpace inflation, which means you’ll earn what really amount to $60,000 for the remainder of your professional career.

Here’s evidence of the wage gap: Men’s salaries don’t peak until age 48, topping out at a median of $95,000.

Both men and women will see salary growth of about 60 percent by age 30, according to the PayScale study.

By the time the typical woman reaches age 39, her salary has grown by less than 20 percent when compared to when she was 30. Then after 39 the growth pretty much comes to a halt.

Men however have a steady salary growth rate after age 30. Yet by age 48 most men see that their income has grown by about 45 percent, compared to when they were 30.

Don’t get too disappointed, a lot of this depends on your career profession and choices.  But there are things you can that will positively affect your salary growth.

In Your 20s: Since you are fresh out of college you might be eager to take the first job you’re offered. Have a plan before you jump into the professional pool.Take a look at the industry you have chosen. Does it have frequent annual pay increases?  Careers in engineering, computer science, management positions (usually dominated by men) all of which have a healthy growth rate.

Also during this period, look for ways to move up. If a position becomes available, go for it.  It is also a good time in your career to begin your savings strategy as your responsibilities should be at a minimum.

In Your 30s:  Be on the lookout for new opportunities. Go on interviews regularly. According to Kathy Caprino, president of career and leadership coaching company Ellia Communications, “Literally, you should be interviewing two or three times a year.” A new job usually means a pay bump.

Volunteer to take on new projects or more work. With more responsibility comes more money. And even is you are hope raising kids, try to do some part-time or freelance work to stay in the pipeline and maintain your contacts.

Cut down your debt and start saving money for retirement. You should be putting away at least 15 percent of your income.

In your 40s and 50s: Stop overspending and put your retirement savings needs first. At this stage of life, you should ideally be saving 25 percent of your income for retirement.

Pay off the mortgage. It’s not a good idea to enter into retirement still having to worry about carrying a mortgage.  Sugar Savvy has a good suggestion on how to pay down the loan: “Make half a mortgage payment every two weeks — you’ll end up making one full extra payment every year, which will slightly accelerate your payoff schedule.”

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