How One Woman's Salary Went Up & Down Over 10 Years

Illustrations by Louisa Cannell
In our series My Salary Story, women with at least 10 years of career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way. Interested in contributing your salary story? Email us here.
We first talked to a 36-year-old New Yorker who works in media and took a big pay cut to make a career change.
Today, we speak to a 33-year-old Black woman working in real estate in Austin, TX, who left the workforce for a while to deal with family matters.
Starting salary: $500/week
Current salary: $44,000
Number of years employed: 10
Biggest salary jump: $9,000
Biggest salary drop: $10,000
Biggest salary regret: "That I let my fear of not having an income or get a position [impact my decision to] enter into negotiations. Also, in moving from one state to another, I did not do enough research into what people with my attributes and skillset are earning. I've always wanted to work, and I am lucky that I have an inheritance (though I cannot access those funds until I am 35, except for rare occasions). Even with the ups and downs, I've been lucky that I have not had to access it, and I've tried to act as if it does not exist."
Best salary-related advice: "Do not let the pressure of bills, expenses, etc. force you to stay in a position you do not like. In my highest salaried position, though I liked the money, I hated working there. I made more money than the manager and there was major resentment toward me, leading to a campaign to get rid of me that worked. I could have made a bigger stink about it at the time, but I was happy to leave and move to Austin, which has been good to me professionally. Know your worth and hold strong to it."