Here’s How to Determine How Much You Should Be Making at Your First Job

Getting ready to launch your career is exciting but also daunting. It’s common to have a lot of questions about what to expect, and not just those relating to the role or environment. You’ll likely have questions about compensation, too.

Simply figuring out how much you should be making isn’t easy, as you typically don’t have a personal point of reference. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out what a reasonable salary looks like before you have to negotiate your first job offer. Here’s how to determine how much you should be making at your first job.

Research Entry-Level Salaries Online

Usually, the best way to estimate what you can make in your first job is with research. There are numerous websites that track salary information for a broad selection of roles. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks median salaries, as well as how much those that fall into specific percentiles earn. By looking at the lower figures, you can see what entry-level professionals in those positions typically make annually.

Sites like, PayScale, and Glassdoor also track salary data, both nationally and by location. With these sites, the compensation amounts are typically provided by site users, not directly from companies. As a result, figures that include more data points are often more accurate.

You can also connect with members of your network to learn more about salaries. Others working in similar entry-level roles to those you want to land or recently transitioned into slightly higher positions may be able to shine a light on pay rates. This is particularly beneficial if you’re considering a company they work at now or were employed at recently, as the information may apply more directly to the job you’re after.

Finally, professional associations and college career centers are resources worth tapping. Professional associations often monitor pay rates across the related industry or field, and some even administer their own salary surveys regularly for updated data. College career centers are also well aware of salary norms relating to majors they offer, and many have data on recent graduates and the pay rates they secured right out of school.

Speak with a Local Recruiter

Local recruiters are an asset when you’re preparing to launch your career. Recruiters are well-informed regarding the local job market, including salary rates for entry-level positions at leading employers in the area. As a result, they can provide you with helpful information that leads to reasonable expectations, ensuring you get fair compensation when you accept your first job.

Plus, local recruiters can connect you with a wide array of opportunities. They’re familiar with current openings, as well as which employers offer the best benefits, perks, and culture. That makes factoring other parts into the equation easier while increasing the odds that you’ll find a truly satisfying role.


Contact Us Today!

If you’d like more information about entry-level salaries or are seeking out your first job in your new field, Selectek wants to hear from you. Contact us today.