I'm 35 & I Left My Office Job For A Career In The Trades

Illustrated by Seung Won Chun.
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.
Been in the workforce for at least eight years and interested in contributing your salary story? Submit your information here.
Age: 35
Current Location: Boston, MA
Current Industry & Title: Electrician Apprentice, Trades
Starting Salary: $28,000
Current Salary: $42,500
Number Of Years Employed: 14
Biggest Salary Jump: $45,000 to $52,800 in 2017
Biggest Salary Drop: $52,800 to $42,500 in 2019
Biggest Salary Negotiation Regret: “My biggest regret was not fighting for a raise every time I had a review. I was basically getting 2% cost of living increases for years and never spoke up for myself. I have many regrets, but I specifically regret that when I got my promotion, I didn’t negotiate for a larger salary increase. Also, whenever I did try to say I wanted a raise, I never backed myself up and showed why I deserve it or researched how much I should be making. That’s a huge regret.”
Best Salary-Related Advice: “Don't be afraid to make changes. It's never too late. I regret not leaving my job sooner and starting a career in the trades. I never had even thought about myself working in a trade. I didn’t think it was a real option. But now that I’m actually doing it, I love it. Before, I was working in traditional office jobs, and I didn’t like being so stationary from 9 to 5 every day. But I kept looking for those kinds of jobs not even realizing there is this whole other world I wasn’t taking into consideration.
"I wish I would have considered another profession sooner. My advice is not to just focus on traditional 9-5 jobs and office jobs and salary steps, but on work that makes you feel fulfilled. Step outside the box and don’t be afraid to try something you could never imagine yourself doing. Right now, I am an apprentice and the pay isn’t great, but in a few years I could be making up to $200,000 a year as a licensed electrician.”

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