I Make $100,000 & Openly Talk About My Salary With Colleagues

In our series My 6-Figure Paycheck, women making more than $100,000 open up about how they got there and what exactly they do. We take a closer look at what it feels like to be a woman making six-figures — when only 5% of American women make that much, according to the U.S. Census with the hope it will give women insight into how to better navigate their own career and salary trajectories.
Today, we chat with a 30-year old CG animator from Los Angeles, CA. Previously, we spoke with a 28-year-old real estate attorney in Orange County, CA and a 31-year old design strategist from Denver, CO.
Job: Lead Computer Graphics (CG) Artist
Age: 30
Location: Los Angeles, California
Degree: Bachelor's in Media Arts and Animation
First Salary: $59,800
Salary: $100,000
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"All through high school, I studied hard to be a scientist — an astrophysicist in particular. I worked hard, did Post Secondary in high school (a state-funded program where I got to take on campus college courses my junior and senior year) and received free college credit, yet sadly in electives only since real classes were for 'actual freshmen.'"
What did you study in college?
"I did not graduate with my science degree. I learned that it was something I liked, but not something I wanted to do with my life.
"While studying at that state college, I minored in political science and physics. Deciding science was not the correct path for me, I ended up enrolling in a local Media Trade school and received my Bachelor of Science in Media Arts and Animation after an additional three years of schooling."
Did you have to take out student loans?
"I did! For everything. I did not receive any scholarships besides a few free electives when I was a high school student. From my unfinished science undergrad, I owed $40,000. Then, the additional three years of animation was another $75,000. I left higher education in debt for $105,000."
Have you been working at this job since you graduated college?
"This is my fourth job. I started off as a free intern in the visual effects world. I job hopped three times to get where I am now. Going from studio to studio is the main way to receive raises in my field. Also, [it meant] promotions to more management and leadership positions."
How would you explain your day-to-day role at your job?
"I come into work at 8:30 a.m. I check emails to see if our partner companies on the other side of the globe had any issues throughout the night, and if so, fix it. Then my team comes in.
"I lead a team of four artists. I set them up with their daily tasks and what I expect. I then spend the rest of my day until 5:30 p.m. working with the other leads of the TV series I work on and troubleshoot issues and concerns. Sprinkle in assisting my team with questions, and maybe an artistic thing or two I can claw time in for. That's it!."
Did you negotiate your salary?
"I do negotiate my salary. My craft is represented by a Trade Union that sets minimums. Besides that, I actively talk to my peers about finances. To me, the only person it hurts when we openly discuss wages is the company."
Is your current job your “passion?” If not, what is?
"I love my job, yet it is definitely still work. I would say that the entertainment industry as a whole is very exhausting and strenuous. We have demanding schedules and demanding studios. I do not see myself doing this job forever. I personally love to bake, and one day would love to open up a little coffee shop with some tasty baked goods."
If you could, would you change anything in your career trajectory?
"Not for a while. I love where I am and my continual progression into management. I feel grateful I am currently in a place that respects me and allows me to lead. But one day, I think I will get tired of the hustle."
What professional advice would you give your younger self?
"I would tell myself never to accept the first offer given to me and not take on too much that I don't need. Sometimes, helping others in the workplace only ends up hurting you (especially when it means your performance may suffer). Don't be too nice, people will walk all over you."
Are you a woman under 35 with a six-figure salary and want to tell your story? Submit it here.

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