A job is a means to an end. It’s a paycheck. Yes, some people follow their dreams and make their passions their careers, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the money. If your work is your life, that’s great (and consider yourself lucky!), but for some, their job supports the lifestyle they want to have outside of their nine to five. 

When you have a sufficient income, you can focus on your passion, but until then, your job needs to adequately support you. The choices you make in your career, either early on or as you climb the ladder, determine your income potential over your lifetime. You can do some research to learn what kind of salary you can expect in your chosen career path either as an entry-level, junior, or senior employee.

Some people decide to go for a career that has a lower earning potential because their values align with the job, which is fine as long as they understand they probably won’t have the chance to be making much more than the average salary for that position. 

However, if you’ve chosen a field that you’re enjoying working in and you’re fulfilled, but your salary isn’t as high as you would like or need, you don’t have to switch careers. There are other ways you can increase your earning potential without making a major change in jobs. 

Upgrade your education

Higher education usually translates to a higher earning potential. In some careers, like nursing, you can start out with a bachelor’s degree, and your salary will eventually cap, but if you upgrade to a master’s degree, you can dramatically increase your salary. 

If you’re wary about going back to school because you’re worried about interrupting your career momentum, you can always take courses online. Some schools offer programs, like MPath Online, that have flexible and accelerated timelines to better suit your plans for advancement. Online courses are designed to work around your schedule, whether you’re working full-time or part-time, raising a family, or both. 

Ask for a raise

Many people feel uncomfortable asking for a pay increase, but almost two-thirds of people have never asked for a raise, and around 70% of those that did ask received some kind of increase afterwards. If you don’t ask, you can’t receive, so it’s in your best interest to prepare some points about why you deserve a raise, ignore the nervous or uncomfortable feelings you may have surrounding money talk, and negotiate your salary with your boss. 

Timing is also everything, so make sure you know when to request your raise. Do you have a performance review coming up? Did you just score a major accomplishment for the company? Is this a high-stress time for the company? Consider these factors when preparing to ask. 

Find a mentor

Having a mentor will help you know where to take your career and what decisions to make. Navigating a career path can be tricky and you don’t have to go at it alone. A mentor can provide insight, feedback, and advice based on their experiences, so ensure the person you want to mentor you has a career path that you’re interested in. 

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