I'm 31 & I Make $59K As An HR Director At A Nonprofit

illustrated by Hannah Minn.
In our series Salary Stories, women with long-term 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.
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Age: 31
Current Location: Central Texas, TX
Current Industry & Title: Non-Profit Education & Community Action Agency, HR Director
Starting Salary: $30,000 in 2009
Current Salary: $58,620
Number Of Years Employed: 10
Biggest Salary Jump: $30,000 to $43,150 in 2013
Biggest Salary Drop: $43,150 to $30,000 in 2013
Biggest Salary Negotiation Regret: “When I became an HR Office Training Manager in 2016, I should have asked for more. I thought my interview had gone badly and didn’t think I was going to be offered the job, so when they called me the next day and asked me when I could start, I was surprised. Because this was my first manager role, they said they couldn’t start me any higher than the bottom of the scale, but I wish I had asked for more instead of settling at the bottom of the pay range.”
Best Salary-Related Advice: "Always ask for a raise! You’re hard-working and dedicated. As women, we’re conditioned not to make a fuss, but we need to be louder."
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“After college, my husband and I moved back to my hometown, a small town in Texas. I found a job as an administrative assistant through a temp agency. It was a temp-to-hire position, and since this was during the recession, I decided to just take it. I didn’t negotiate because, at the time, I was just grateful to have a job at all.”
2 of 10
“After three years at my previous job, I didn’t receive a raise because we were going through organizational changes. Things felt stagnant, so I decided to get my teacher certification. At the time, I thought I wanted to teach, so I became a public middle school teacher.

"Teacher pay has set salary steps in most Texas districts, and I started at the very bottom, based on my years of experience. I was offered $41,000 for salary plus a $2,150 stipend for teaching choir for a total of $43,150. I couldn’t negotiate more."
3 of 10
“After teaching for one year, I realized teaching kids was not for me. So I decided I needed to try something else. I left teaching to return to the corporate world. I found a Training specialist job for a corporation that made job fit assessments. I was offered $28,000; I told them I needed to have $30,000, and they met me there.

“This was a pretty big pay cut, but it was worth it for me since I was miserable — teaching kids just wasn’t for me. Plus, the work was good. I really enjoy training, plus I had felt a bit isolated as a teacher, and I was glad to have a social aspect to work again.”
4 of 10
“My company was bought out and after layoffs began, I made it a priority to find another job. On top of this, the company was a small business, and no one had been getting raises. The only way you’d get one was if you got a promotion.

“I knew that I needed to find a broader niche, so I wanted to go into general HR. I started looking and found a job posting on Indeed for an HR coordinator at a large distribution center. I went in for an interview, and they liked me. When they offered me the salary I didn’t negotiate. Looking back, I should have, but at the time it was a $10,000 raise, and I didn’t want to push my luck. Plus I could still get overtime, so that was also nice.”
5 of 10
“After a year, I applied for an internal manager role and did not get it. I was feeling ready for a manager role, and I realized there weren’t many promotion opportunities at my previous company. So I applied for a manager position at another distribution center.

“I went through two rounds of panel interviews, which was nerve-wracking but good practice. After the final interview, I thought it went terribly and didn’t think I was going to get the job, but they called me the next day, and asked me when I could start. We had some conversations about salary, but because this was my first manager role, they wouldn’t start me any higher than the bottom of the scale. It didn’t really feel negotiable. Still, I felt good about the move and thought it would be good for my career so I accepted.”
6 of 10
“As part of my annual review process, I was given a $500 raise. My company basically got a pot of money and spread it out across employees based on how long you’d been there. Since I was new, $500 was all I got.

“In 2017, my peer got promoted and I was happy for her, but they decided they weren’t going to replace her because I ‘could handle it.’ Pretty soon, I was working 60 to 70 hours a week. I would start sometimes at 5 a.m. and not stop until 9 p.m. After a while, it reached the point where I couldn’t do those hours anymore. I knew they weren’t going to hire anyone else to help me, so I started looking for other work. At some point, the money’s not worth it.”
7 of 10
“I found a job posting on Indeed for an HR director at a non-profit and community action agency. I went in for a few interviews and met with the executive director. They ended up offering me the job, but because this was a nonprofit and I was at the director level, the executive director said that my salary had to be approved by the board. So we negotiated a bit; she said they wouldn’t start me off at the bottom of the scale, so we went as far as we could, which was 3 steps up the scale at $53,000. The board approved my salary ,and I accepted because it was roughly what I had previously been making, and the hours would be much better.”
8 of 10
“I had my first evaluation after completing my first six months in this position. The executive director has the ability to do the salaries for management, so she was able to move me up two steps.”
9 of 10
“Each year, everybody gets a cost of living raise. So this was part of that process in May of this year. I am happy that I took a position with a non-profit for the chance to advance my title and responsibility. While my pay didn’t change at first, I was happy for the new responsibility, the hours, and the chance to help my community and make a difference for people who are in poverty. Nobody’s here for the money, but I truly love what I do.

“I am currently going back to school to get my master’s degree in human resources and I hope my degree will help my career and teach me more strategic ways of thinking. I’ve come a long way from where I started, and this salary is great for where I am in my life right now. I am currently the breadwinner; my husband only makes about $40,000 a year, which is a bit of a departure from traditional gender roles. But it’s been good and I wouldn’t change anything. Our goal some day is to move to New York City, but we want to move there once we’ve made some more progress in our careers.”
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