Entry-Level Jobs 101

How Much Should I be Paid at an Entry-Level Job?

Now that you’re ready to start searching for your first entry-level job, you probably have some questions about how a full-time job will differ from a part-time job or internship. For example, what can you reasonably expect to earn during your first one to two years of post-college employment and what are some other perks that can balance out an entry-level salary?

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about salaries.

What is the average entry-level salary?

According to Glassdoor, the average entry-level job salary in the U.S. is $28,000, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what you’ll make at your first post-college job. Compensation for entry-level jobs differs from field to field and city to city so in order to get an accurate sense of what you can expect to earn, it’s important to do your research on your chosen industry. That way, when you start receiving offers, you’ll know how your offer stacks up against others in the field.

How can you find out the entry-level salary for chosen field?

Luckily, researching industry-specific salaries is pretty easy, with sites like Payscale and Glassdoor providing clear salary information for recent graduates—just search by the entry-level position you’re curious about. You can use these sites to compare how entry-level jobs pay by region, since the same entry-level job is likely to pay significantly more in a place like New York City than in a smaller city or town where the cost of living is lower.

Pro Tip: Even if you know exactly what kind of position you want to land, do some research on other jobs within that industry and outside of it. This will give you more insight into the job market in general and help you consider the full range of opportunities available to you.

Can you negotiate an entry-level salary?

After you’ve gotten a good idea of what a general entry-level salary in your field looks like, it’s time to get specific. It’s helpful to take both your professional skill sets and the company you’re interested in into account. When thinking about your work experience and skill set, consider what skills could make you more valuable to an employer. Maybe you excelled at an internship, were able to freelance your way to an interesting resume or earned special academic honors for your killer schoolwork. Take these into account when filling out your application so that you give yourself the best chance of being offered the highest salary possible.

It’s important to note however, that in many cases negotiation isn’t an option for entry-level offers. This is especially the case for structured programs like finance, consulting and medicine, but can apply to other entry-level jobs as well. When considering a job offer, it’s therefore important to consider things beyond salary, such as culture, perks, vacation and benefits. That means making sure you’ve done your research on the company and thinking about what they can offer you that will make the experience a beneficial one. How much you’re comfortable being paid at an entry-level job can be influenced by what you think the experience can give you in a larger sense, outside of just a paycheck.

Jobs for recent graduates will offer different salaries based on where you’re looking to work and what you’d like to do, but once you have a solid idea of what your salary will be, you’ll be well-prepared to start your new career and take the first steps towards advancing in the field.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Entry-Level Job? and find answers to common interview questions such as How to Answer: Are You Willing to Relocate?