In a recent Gallup poll, 51 percent of Americans felt they were underpaid, while another study concluded minimum wages across the country were severely low. Meanwhile, the salaries of CEO’s are at an all-time high and continue to skyrocket. Making matters worse, the government is kowtowing to big corporations who lobby for more H1B visas in order to keep tech wages artificially low and reduce workers rights. If you are in the middle or lower class income bracket, it might be time to reassess your worth.

Compare Your Salary Online

Websites like,,, and are great resources in measuring your salary against others based on factors like experience, location, and title. Andy Teach, a corporate veteran and author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time, said, “I think that getting information from salary-related websites is a great place to start. I can’t speak for the accuracy of these websites because a lot depends on how many people supplied salary information and when they supplied that information. But as I said, it’s a starting point, not an ending point.” Although these sites offer fairly accurate wage estimations for each occupation, the range tends to be wide and doesn’t incorporate specific accomplishments, skills, and other circumstances into account. Glassdoor spokesperson Samantha Zupan said, “However, doing as much research as possible can help set your expectations as to where you may fall.”

Sometimes “Average” Just Isn’t Enough

Even if your salary falls into the spectrum of acceptable compensation, that doesn’t necessarily mean you deserve it. If you are a stellar employee with a special skillset others don’t have, don’t settle for “acceptable,” demand more. “It doesn’t mean that it’s what you should expect or deserve. If you’re an above average worker with a great work reputation, then it’s safe to say that you probably deserve to be at the top of the salary range or at the very least, above the average,” says Teach.

It’s All About Your Experience

This is a no-brainer. The more experience you have in your field, the more money you deserve to make. For those who are just starting out, don’t expect much leverage when negotiating salary. But for proven professionals, your worth should be at the very top echelon.

Location, Location, Location!

Whenever I visit cities in the Midwest or South, I’m baffled at how relatively cheap everything is compared to the West coast, where I live, but then I remember the wages are much lower. Cost of Living (COL) should always be accounted for when reviewing your salary. It makes no sense to have Silicon Valley-like wages in Madison. Likewise, it’s impossible to survive on a Cleveland salary in Manhattan. Use Payscale’s COL calculator to determine how much you should get paid.

How Educated Are You?

Most jobs pay more depending on how much schooling you have. Those with bachelor’s degrees end up earning about 75 percent more than high school graduates, and will make about $1 million more over a lifetime. Meanwhile, a master’s degree is worth about $400,000 more than just a bachelor’s over a lifetime according to studies.

A 2014 Economic Policy Institute study concluded American wages have been stagnating over the past 35 years. Hourly wages fell from 2013 to 2014, except for a measly 3 percent increase at the 40th percentile and a more significant increase at the 10th percentile. Judging by the statistics, most Americans are underpaid (except for executives), but that shouldn’t be an excuse to sell yourself short.


How many of you feel underpaid and under-appreciated at work?

Additional image: Flickr / Roy





Zara Zhi
Zara Zhi
Zara is a freelance writer and filmmaker who has worked for numerous magazines and news sites. When not coming up with puns or writing screenplays, she enjoys having blind children read to her and donating plasma TVs. Follow her on Twitter: @zarazhi