How to determine your salary requirement

How to determine your salary requirement

Have you ever filled out a job application that asked for your salary history and salary requirement? Or has a hiring manager ever asked you how much you expect to earn during a job interview?

In both of these situations, you might feel a bit uncomfortable giving a number. In fact, you might even be unsure as to what dollar amount to state. But the truth is, your experience and expertise come at a price — and knowing what you’re worth will stand you in good stead during any salary negotiation.

What employers want to know and why

In some cases, employers might request your salary history during a job application. However, as Alison Doyle writes in her article “When and How to Disclose Your Salary Requirements” for The Balance Careers, not all municipalities and states allow this, so check your local and state laws before providing information about your past earnings.

Employers typically want to know what you expect to earn so they can determine whether you’re too expensive — in which case you’ll be out of the running — or a viable candidate who’s happy with the salary range they’re looking to pay. Of course, if your salary expectations are lower than they had in mind, they can also adjust the sum they had in mind down. 

Factors that contribute to your salary requirement

Clearly, being able to state a realistic salary requirement can be critical to landing the job — and pay — you want. So what should you take into account when calculating your salary requirement? Here’s an overview of the most important factors:

  • Education: If you’re applying for a job that requires a master’s degree, it should pay more than one that requires an associate or bachelor’s degree. Keep in mind, however, that if you’re applying for a job for which you’re overqualified, you need to be realistic and look at the qualifications the position requires instead of your highest degree.

  • Experience: Your experience is extremely important. Consider how many years of experience you have and what you’ve accomplished in that time. You can also factor in volunteer work and other activities if you can demonstrate that they’ve contributed to your skill sets.

  • Location: Due to differences in the cost of living, salaries in metropolitan areas are higher than those in rural areas. In addition, there are regional differences that you should take into account.

  • Flexibility: advises in the article “How Much Am I Worth?” that being flexible is a plus when it comes to salary. So if you’re willing to travel, relocate, or take shifts nobody else wants, you can realistically expect to be paid more.

If you’re still at a loss as to how much you want to earn, it’s advisable to do some research to see what similar positions in your area are paying. You can use sites such as Glassdoor and to select and compare job listings with salary information. Based on this data, you can come up with a range — for example between $65,000 and $75,000.

Note that you should never state your salary requirement unless a potential employer requests it. Nevertheless, it’s wise to be aware of you’re worth so that when asked, you can answer with a realistic number that works for both you and your potential employer.


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