Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
Which number would you rather reveal: your salary or the number of sexual relationships you've had? Researchers from the University College London asked 15,000 men and women this question and uncovered a startling truth: People are seven times more likely to tell a stranger about their sexual history, including affairs and STDs, than chat about their income.
If you're considering a career change or want to negotiate higher pay, Glassdoor community expert Jessica Jaffe says this final taboo could cost you—big time. "A little data goes a long way when it comes to salary negotiations. Don't just ask for more—do so intelligently," she says. Understanding what your peers earn does more than just benefit you. "Research shows that salary transparency, or knowing what others make, can help eliminate hard-to-justify gender pay gaps in the workplace," she explains. In other words, boosting your salary IQ benefits everyone (except your boss).
To lift the taboo, we asked Jaffe to delve into Glassdoor's data and reveal the average salary across 10 professions in America, from HR managers to paramedics. Take a look—you know you want to.
Qualification: While it's not mandatory, transitioning to a role in HR usually requires a business degree with knowledge of employment law and compensation.
Extra Skills: Boost your earning potential with extra accreditation, says Jaffe. "It may help to become certified as a professional of human resources (PHR) or certified employee benefits specialist (CEBS)."
Qualification: A bachelor's or master's degree in marketing or business administration.
Extra Skills: You'll need to develop a "strong professional background in marketing research and analysis, business management, and campaign strategy" in order to qualify for this role, says Jaffe.
Qualifications: None, although proof of industry experience or undertaking an acting course at a leading institution can help you develop the skills needed to succeed.
Extra Skills: "While a college degree is not required to become an actor, talent is," she warns, noting that the image of well-paid A-listers isn't a reality for all. "This is a notoriously difficult industry to crack. For every Jennifer Lawrence, there are thousands of waiters-slash-actors."
Qualifications: A bachelor's or master's degree in architecture.
Extra Skills: This is a tough industry to transition to if you're underqualified. "An architect's decisions affect public safety, so there are various stages of professional accreditation (e.g., internships, exams) that result in receiving a license," says Jaffe. To become a top earner, you'll need to develop strong design and mathematical skills.
Qualifications: "Aspiring lawyers should earn a bachelor's degree in a program that teaches them strong writing and critical-thinking skills, such as political science, history, or philosophy," says Jaffe. You'll also "need to earn a JD degree from an ABA-accredited law school and pass your state's bar exam."
Extra Skills: Your earning potential is largely driven by specialty area. Trial and intellectual property lawyers are among the highest paid.
Qualifications: A degree in graphic design, although it's not always a requirement.
Extra Skills: Looking for a side hustle? A strong portfolio of work is key to becoming a profitable graphic designer. Build your experience in your free time before making the career switch.
Qualifications: Yes, the IT manager in your office makes $70,628 on average. They've likely got a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science.
Extra Skills: Interested in transitioning to IT? You'll need five or more years of work experience under your belt to earn this wage, says Jaffe.
Qualifications: Not all medical professions offer a high salary. Paramedics aren't required to have a college degree, although they need specialized training to become licensed and certified.
Extra Skills: "Emergency medical technicians must be able to stay calm and focused under pressure, pay strong attention to detail, and have good people skills," says Jaffe.
Qualifications: "Earning nearly $300,000 per year, these doctors not only attend medical school; they also go on to complete another four years in an anesthesiology residency," she explains.
Extra Skills: Their salary matches the demands of the job," says Jaffe. "There are high stakes—anesthesiologists must be meticulous in maintaining a patient's level of consciousness and amount of oxygen in the blood, among other things, during surgeries."
Qualifications: A bachelor's degree in elementary education.
Extra Skills: An even temperament is key, says Jaffe. Extra accreditation will also boost your earning potential. "They may also pursue a master's degree in order to specialize within an academic area."