In today’s post I’d like to address a problem a lot of the Elegant Themes community has probably encountered: figuring out what your web designer salary should be and being confident in your findings when it comes time to negotiate.
Perhaps you’re in college and you’re entering the workforce for the first time. Perhaps you’ve been a freelancer and you’re in talks with a studio to land your first salaried gig. Perhaps you’ve had an hourly job that you’re trying to turn into a salaried position. Or perhaps you’ve had a salaried job for years but never felt like you could be certain you were getting a fair shake.
In any of these situations the basic guidelines below should help you come to a better understanding of your value to potential employers. Armed with this knowledge, it is our hope that you will then be able to go out and confidently negotiate a salary that accurately reflects the value of the work you do.
Understanding Your Market Value as a Web Designer
I have yet to meet the person born with an accurate, innate understanding of their market value. So if you find yourself entering the job market unaware of yours, don’t worry, that’s normal.
I think what many people start out by doing is simply adding up all of their monthly expenses and making sure that their paycheck will allow them to pay all of their bills. That’s not a bad place to start, but it is just the start, and only a small piece of the overall puzzle.
It’s important to account for other variables too. Particularly those that will give you a better idea of what you should or could be earning as opposed to the bare minimum you need in order to avoid homelessness.
These “value variables” are my personal suggestions as to what should be taken into account when determining your market value. They are based on both subject research and about a decade of experience. I always account for them in the order listed below (from 1 to 4) and cede them in reverse (4 to 1) when in negotiations. Let’s take a look.
1. Position/Experience/Location – These are the standard guidelines by which almost all salaries, regardless of industry or position, are determined. Salary calculators use these meta data points (and others) to provide you with a spectrum of possible salaries for your position.
I would recommend visiting one of the following sites (or all of them) and figuring out where you fall within the spectrum they recommend:
Once you know where you fit in generally, you can begin to get a better idea of your specific value in relation to the specific job you’re applying to by taking the next three variables into account too.
2. Current Compensation – What are you getting paid now? If you’re a freelancer you should be (but probably aren’t) charging your clients a rate that takes into account things like health insurance, time off, equipment, overhead etc. If you’re not then it would be a good time to figure out what that number would be so that you have a better idea of how much that would turn into when converted to a salaried position.
3. Potential Employer – Having a good working knowledge of your potential employer and an idea of how they tend to compensate their employees can be a big advantage. I always try to ask around and find out as much as I can (without making people uncomfortable or overstepping appropriate social boundaries, of course).
Having a simple conversation with a few current or past employees of the company you’re looking to join can give you a good idea of how much they typically pay employees coming in at your level/position; if they tend to offer high, median, or low salaries; what their benefits packages are like; if they have a history of age or gender discrimination; and a whole lot more.