Salaries Top Out @ Age 40 - Darrin Grella's - The Interview Gurus

Whatever you earn at age 40 is likely to be the top of your earning potential. This is one of Salary at age 40a gazillion things I’ve learned from talking with Al Lee, the director of quantitative analysis at PayScale.

Al’s data, which is based on the careers of college graduates, is basically that the salary curve for most people in their 20s is very steep. Then it starts to flatten in the 30s, and then you get into the land of the 3% raise. In real dollars, those 3% raises are not actually raises, they are just keeping up with inflation.

The information is grim. But here are some things you can do with it:

1. Go where the men are. To be precise, pay tops out at age 38 for women ($61K) and age 45 for men ($95K). But the difference, according to PayScale data, is not due to unequal pay for equal work. Rather, the difference is that women choose lower paying careers, and women are more likely to take time out of the workforce for kids. So the first thing you can do to prevent your salary from flat-lining is choose a career that men dominate. But it’s not just about industry—it is also about influence. Stick to line-management positions rather than support roles. For example, skip human resources and go to supply chain management.

2. Rewrite your resume. If you’re at the beginning of your career, focus on accomplishments rather than responsibilities. This makes you look like you’re in a higher pay bracket so you will get larger salary increases. If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, cut anything that is more than 15 years old, including the date of your college graduation. Al says that there is no premium paid for two decades of experience because jobs change so quickly that long-gone experience is not particularly relevant.  And because age discrimination creates a sort of penalty for more than 15 years of experience. So just leave it off.

3. Be a lawyer. Have I ever given this advice before? I don’t think so. Even the American Bar Association reports that law school is a ripoff. But I’m open to counter-arguments—Al says that the only profession where your pay increases after 20 years is in law. Because laws change very slowly, especially procedural law, and so much of being a good lawyer is your on-the-job training.

4. Specialize. By your mid 30s, if you don’t have a specialty, it’s hard to get your salary into the next bracket. You earn more money if your talents are more scarce. (Here’s some information about how to specialize.) Also, don’t give up hope if you have no idea what you’re doing in your mid-20s. As long as you figure things out by the time you’re 30, you will get a premium for 15 years of experience before your salary stops rising.

[continue reading the entire post, for the 3 remaining tips at Penelope Trunk’s, Brazen Careerist]

Darrin Grella – Interview Guru


Help people with the entire Job Life Cycle. From encouraging people on how to look for a job and get interviews (including resume writing service) to coaching them through interviewing and getting job offers to motivating them through the day to day of their working career. After the resume perfecting process, individuals are lead through my book, The 10 Key Interviewing T.E.C.H.N.I.Q.U.E.S. and propelled to successful, enriching careers. From individuals to larger speaking engagements, I love what I do.

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