April 22, 2013

Talent Tip: You Can’t Always Get What You Want: Advanced Degrees, Higher Salaries, and Marrying Orthopedic Surgeons

By: Claire Kittle

As a follow-up to last month’s tip about graduate degrees, I wanted to tackle the topic of how advanced schooling affects salaries in the free-market nonprofit community.

When I inquire about desired salary, here are two common responses I get:

• “I am currently at 50k, but I’ll be finishing up my master’s degree next month. Therefore, I’d like to earn 70k in my next position.”
• “I understand the pay range for this role is 50-60k. However, since I have a master’s degree, I’d like to be in the 65-70k range.”

Well, I’d like to marry a dashing orthopedic surgeon with a small ego, a big dog, and a stellar sense of humor, but that’s probably not going to happen, now is it?

The bottom line is that many free-market nonprofits are willing to pay more for advanced degrees, but only if the degree is relevant to the role at hand or if they see added value in the additional education. And if the role doesn’t call for an advanced degree, don’t expect the organization to go above their stated salary range for you just because you have a few extra letters beside your name.

Again, I want to be clear that I’m not trashing graduate degrees in general. Depending on the job/career path, an advanced degree is often quite useful if not absolutely necessary. But what I see too often is folks with more schooling wanting more money despite the fact their degrees are not relevant to the job at hand.

Now, let’s get serious: does anyone know any cute, single orthopedic surgeons for me?