6 Criteria for a Good Salary (Plus Salary Negotiation Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Earning a good salary can help you achieve personal goals and career success. It may improve your job satisfaction and give you access to adequate financial resources to pursue your passions. Understanding the criteria that determine a good salary can help you decide on your career path. In this article, we explore different criteria for a good salary and offer tips on how to negotiate a better salary with employers.

6 criteria for a good salary

Here's a list of criteria for a good salary to help you find a job that meets your financial goals:

1. Education

Most employers require some level of education, from a Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE) to advanced degrees in specific fields. Roles that only require an HKDSE generally offer lower salaries, whereas a job that requires specific degrees in specialised fields offers much higher salaries. For example, the average salary of a receptionist is $14,482 per month, whereas the average salary of a legal counsel is $49,780 per month.

Education is an important factor for people that are just entering the job market. Certain professions, such as doctors and lawyers, also require specific education. Aside from just completing a degree, your performance can also be a strong determining factor. Many large organisations have minimum grade point average requirements. With minimal experience, employers rely on your educational background to determine whether you're qualified for a role. While higher education requirements often lead to higher compensation, it's important to note that advanced education generally requires much longer to complete.

2. Experience

Usually, the longer you spend in a profession or industry, the higher your compensation is as you progress along your career path. Many professions have hierarchical career paths. As you gain more qualifications, you can advance to more senior roles. For example, the average salary of a sales representative is $16,148 per month compared to the average salary of a senior sales manager of $23,596 per month. It's crucial to attain relevant experience to improve your earning potential.

The longer you've worked, the more experience may factor into your earning potential. For more senior roles, many organisations are looking for candidates with practical experience and a proven track record of success. Employers may be more willing to offer higher compensation for candidates that can show they have the qualifications to succeed in a role.

3. Your previous salary

Hiring managers often ask what your previous salary was. Many employers use this information to plan an attractive job offer. For highly skilled candidates, hiring managers often offer salary packages higher than your most recent role. If you feel you were under-compensated in your previous role, it's important to focus the conversation on your expectations rather than your history.

Related: How to Answer 'What Was Your Last Salary?' (Plus Tips)

4. Licences and certifications

Many professions require specific licences and certifications. For example, the Nursing Council of Hong Kong requires candidates to obtain a valid practising certificate before they can officially practise nursing. Roles that require licensing often have higher salaries than other jobs within the same industry. The average salary of a registered nurse is $31,752 per month compared to the average salary of a health care assistant, which is $16,215 per month.

5. Industry

Different industries often have different compensation structures. Professional fields such as health care, finance and law, often have higher compensation than manual labour based industries, such as construction. People in entry-level roles in a professional industry usually have higher salaries. For example, the average salary of a paralegal is $18,141 per month, whereas the average salary of a labourer is $15,302 per month. If you're interested in a lucrative career, it's important to research the earning potential of different industries.

It's also crucial to consider the relevance of an industry. Advancements in technology or changes in consumer demands can affect different industries. For example, the fossil fuel industry is declining because of the increased adoption of environmental energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydro. Industries that are declining often have fewer opportunities for advancement.

6. Company

The company you work for can also influence your earning potential. For example, larger organisations often provide many non-cash benefits as part of your salary package. It's important to consider other benefits, as they can sometimes be worth more than a higher salary. Some companies may offer options on what you prefer in your salary package. Common benefits are health insurance, stock options, access to company facilities and discounts. Smaller companies usually have minimal perks, so they sometimes offer higher salaries to attract talented candidates.

Related: 50 of the Highest Paying Jobs You Can Apply For

Tips for negotiating your salary

Your salary is a representation of your education, experience, industry and achievements. It's important that you're fairly compensated for the effort you've put into attaining your qualifications. Here are some tips to help you negotiate for a better salary:

Perform some research

It's important to do some research into the market conditions of the role. You can browse job sites to see the different salary packages being offered for candidates with similar qualifications to yours. There are also online databases of average salaries for various jobs and even specific employers. Understanding what other employers are currently offering can help set your expectations and decide whether a job offer is fair.

Related: A Complete Guide to Understanding Salary Benchmarking

Determine a salary range

After you've done adequate research, you can determine your expected salary range. When negotiating with employers, consider quoting on the higher end, as many hiring managers often try to negotiate lower to save money. It's important to be firm about your minimum salary, as this can affect your career progression and job satisfaction.

Plan your salary negotiation

Consider planning out a script on how you're going to negotiate your salary with a hiring manager. Note what salary you plan on quoting first and the potential counter-offers from a hiring manager. It's important to compile all the factors that qualify you for a higher salary. For example, you may have advanced certifications or industry achievements and awards. Explaining how you determined your salary expectations can help convince hiring managers that your expected compensation is fair. Having a detailed plan can also help you become more confident during the negotiation process.

Related: Seven Steps to Respond to a Counter Offer Effectively

Maintain a positive tone

Whether it's an interview or a discussion with your current employer, maintaining a positive tone can help your negotiation. Mention how much you enjoy your current workplace and how you've recently had a lot of professional accomplishments. Being sociable can also help give a positive first impression. While it's important to be confident, you also don't want to appear arrogant. Negotiations may also not go as expected, so it's crucial that you're able to stay calm and objective.

Practice your negotiation skills

Negotiations are often stressful, especially with strangers. Consider practising with friends and family to help build your confidence. Getting feedback can also provide you with different perspectives to improve your negotiation skills.

Monitor body language

One way you can gauge the progress of a negotiation is by assessing the hiring manager's body language. Many people are unable to hide their reactions. For example, someone crossing their legs or arms is often a sign of defensiveness, which may mean your salary expectations are too high. Your own body language is also important, as it can leave an impression on a hiring manager. It's important to maintain good posture and eye contact to appear professional. Avoid fidgeting as you want to appear confident.

Related: 18 Body Language Tips to Remember During Your Next Interview

Ask questions

You can consider asking the interviewer certain questions to gauge the employer's budget. You can enquire about whether there are any company perks, such as health insurance or how much annual leave they provide. If they offer above-average benefits, it's reasonable to expect they may offer a fair salary. If a hiring manager isn't willing to divulge much information regarding salary packages, this can be a sign that they don't plan on offering a competitive salary.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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