It may seem far-fetched, but I’m going to teach you how to triple your salary in five years. The fact is, it’s really not.
The workforce is made up of a lot of average workers. To rise above the average and put yourself on the map as a winner, read below on how I did just that with 5 simple (but big) methods.
In 2012, I worked for a hospital system in Texas as a staff accountant. I was a single mom living paycheck to paycheck, making a salary of $42,500. Fast forward five years to 2017, and I was the Director of Accounting for a company in Phoenix, AZ, earning a salary of $135,000.
(I eventually become a CFO in Central Oregon, and then took a mini retirement, having met my savings goals.)
CHANGE JOBS EVERY 2-4 YEARS
Over the course of the last eight years, I switched companies five times. I was promoted in two of those jobs, so I had seven different job titles in eight years.
Since that time, I’ve quit my job and started living on a sailboat in the Caribbean with my family. You can read more about my story here.
If the current company doesn’t pay me what I’m worth, I know that I can negotiate higher pay when I’m ready to switch companies.
No longer do we live in a culture that values tenure. You can actually hurt your resume by not changing jobs often enough. Why? Hiring managers will perceive you as lacking experience if you stay in one job for too long.
Working for different companies exposes you to different technologies, techniques, management styles, and processes. How can you know the “best practice” for anything if you only ever seen ONE practice?
As you work for different companies, always take the best ideas with you, and leave the rest behind. All companies have shortcomings, and all have something you can learn from.
Sometimes the most difficult situations breed the best experiences. Learn from them, learn how to change and adapt, and bring those skills with you to the next job.
NEVER SAy NO TO MORE RESPONSIBILITY
There will come a time when your boss will be in a tough situation because one of his or her direct reports failed in some way. He or she may come to you and ask you to step up and help fix the situation. Never say no.
You may be terrified of stepping up and taking on a new role. You may question whether you have the skills to step in and make a change. Don’t. You got this.
When I was working in Fort Worth as a financial analyst, the controller was failing miserably at making sure the payroll clerk processed payroll correctly. Our company was owned by doctors, and in early January, the doctors received their pay a day late. Pro tip: don’t pay doctors late.
She was fired the next day.
The following Monday, my boss came to me and asked me to take over payroll, hire a new clerk, restructure processes, and make sure the same mistakes never happened again. I was shocked. My first thought was to ask, “Are you going to pay me more?” But instead, I wisely said “I’m on it.”
They soon offered me her job because I had proven that I was capable of fixing things. They gave me a new title, Accounting Manager, and said I had 6 months to show that I was management material before they would give me a pay raise.
Although I was annoyed that I did not receive an immediate increase in pay, I knew that with the manager job title, I would be able to qualify for management jobs at other companies. After 6 months I got a nice raise, and a good bonus at year end.
Two years into the job, I had taken all of the workflows and made them less manual, more efficient, and paperless. I had taken a 10 hour-per-day job and turned it into a 6 hour-per-day job. I was bored and needed a new challenge.
Stepping up for new responsibility makes YOU more valuable. If your current employer doesn’t compensate you for it, your next one will.
Your boss is most likely asking for help because this is a major pain point for her or him. Solving that pain point for your boss means she or he will be coming back to you again the next time. That’s not a negative – that’s how you WIN.
WILLING TO RELOCATE
When an old co-worker called me and asked if I was interested in a Revenue and Treasury Manager job in Phoenix, I didn’t say no. At the time, I was still a single mom, in a long-distance relationship with a guy based in Alberta.
It would be much easier for him to visit me in Phoenix than Fort Worth.
I flew out to Phoenix to interview for a job that didn’t exist yet, and attended a college football game with my boyfriend who had taken a quick flight in. We drove around the city and I decided it was somewhere I could live.
Four months later, I left Texas with my son and our dog in my CX-5, headed across the desert toward our new home. When we left Fort Worth, we didn’t have a place to live in Phoenix beyond a La Quinta hotel room.
I had maybe 25 days worth of cash to live on, and no other assets beyond my car and a formal job offer. It took me three days to find us a house to rent in Phoenix with a nice pool in the backyard for barely more than I’d paid for a 2 bedroom apartment in Phoenix.
The job paid $15,000 more than the job in Fort Worth, with a director title. Little did I know what a challenge working for that company would be over the next three years of my life.
But in the end, it was all worth it.
Always consider jobs in new places. Look for jobs in growing economies and where housing prices are on the rise. This will set you up to multiply your wealth in more than one way:
- your new, higher salary helps you save up
- buy a house, live in it for 2 years, sell for a profit
Boom, you’re filling the coffers faster than you ever could have imagined.
SPECIALIZE IN AN INDUSTRY OR NICHE
I was offered the position in Phoenix with a company that was basically a start-up. The company was growing fast, with plans to sell to a big corporation. They had already bought a couple of companies, and were looking for more small radiology companies to buy.
They had just grown by 100% the month I started. After buying some businesses with many complicated contracts and processes, they needed someone to jump in and figure things out. So I tackled that project quickly.
With knowledge in how to calculate revenue for healthcare companies, I was charged with bridging the gap between billing and finance departments.
Having niche knowledge in the radiology industry was the main reason they brought me in.
Find YOUR niche and stick with it through at least 2 or 3 company changes, and watch how valuable you become within that niche.
I have recruiters contact me frequently to tell me my experience checks “every box” for their client. Typically its a physician specialty group with 20+ doctors who wake up one day and realize they need more sophisticated financial reporting.
I check every box for that type of role. It’s startling how fast I can land a good job – it still surprises me. I can do that job in my sleep.
Find your niche, and be one of the top options for your next employer, and they will pay a premium to get you.
Two words or one: Change Maker. This is vital.
Many times throughout my career, high level personnel have asked me to look into a process and make it better. Efficiency and being quick to figure things out have served me well. I use these skills to enhance processes and make fast improvements in workflows.
When I worked as an accounting director at a job in Phoenix, one of my staff accountants went out of the country for a month. While she was gone, I handled her job of posting daily cash. I discovered how manual the process was, and how much time it took every day to do it.
So I fixed it.
When my employee returned, she was angry at first that I had changed her process. But then she learned the new one, and eventually thanked me for freeing up a couple of her hours, every single day.
As you can imagine, this also saved the company resources. Instead of hiring another part-time employee to come in, we were able to give this staff accountant some new stuff to work. The new tasks provided her new challenges, and helped boost her resume.
People who are afraid of change, or who think their processes can’t be improved, tend to stagnate and stay in the same jobs forever. They cling to routine. Routine, although it has a place in business cycles, should never be prioritized over making improvements to technology or processes.
And then people like me come into their departments and rock their world. They are up in arms – how can this person be more qualified than ME? I’ve been here FOREVER!
There’s almost always a better way to do things. Always be looking for those opportunities and implementing them. Question your workflows and always be willing to think outside the box.
PROBLEMS = OPPORTUNITY
You may walk into a new company and realize on day one that the new company has some serious deficiencies. Their processes are stale, and they aren’t using modern technology to address them.
They are still using fax machines. They type numbers into fillable pdfs and use an adding machine to add up the total, instead of using Microsoft Excel. You might think that’s crazy – no one would do that.
But you’d be surprised. I discovered our billing team was doing exactly that. It wasn’t even a fillable pdf with an auto-total field. They were adding up the numbers on an adding machine and typing the total on the bottom of the pdf.
This discovery presented an opportunity to make a big change with little effort. It was an easy win that solved an efficiency issue for two departments at a time when it was critical. We were on the verge of sending a 50 person department home to work during the Coronavirus pandemic, and our processes were that manual.
Management decided that not only would we send them home during the pandemic, we would keep them at home indefinitely. We had to automate fast, and I was able to help facilitate it with my experience in creating process efficiency.
Look for ways to utilize the technology your company already pays for, because I promise not every department is using it correctly, or at all. Then make convincing recommendations for updated technology that solves big problems that save the company resources (aka money), and you may find yourself with some new responsibilities.
Remember, new responsibility at work eventually turns into money if you have the right attitude.
In this article, I described five ways to triple your salary:
- Change jobs every 2-4 years.
- Be willing to relocate.
- Specialize in an industry or niche.
- Be a Change Maker.
- Problems = Opportunity.
I tripled my salary over five years and I did it by being an employee who could step up and solve problems. My willingness to relocate for new jobs increased the number of opportunities open to me. Lastly, I was an implementer of change, and someone my employers could count on to get it done correctly and efficiently.
I changed jobs every 2-4 years, and I never said no to more responsibility, even when a pay raise was not offered at the time. It almost always pays off later when you can add new skills to your resume.
But most importantly, I always made it my mission to make my boss’s life at work easier, with fewer headaches. By accepting some of those headaches onto my plate, I made myself invaluable to my superiors.
I could mention a host of other things like be self-motivated, have a good attitude, nurture relationships, and so on. Those things are important too. I focused on the factors that made the biggest difference in my own career.
Never stop learning and growing, and paying attention to talented people you can learn from.
Be competitive, but pleasant. Most importantly, never set low expectations for yourself. Be strategic, not emotional. It’s not personal, it’s just business.