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How to Make More Money in Your Career

Closeup view of man using laptop at table and flying dollars making money

Money isn’t everything… but it sure can do many things. 

From the basics, like putting a roof over your head, to the luxuries, like traveling and pursuing hobbies you love, money is necessary for feeling secure and comfortable in your life and work. No wonder it’s one of the most effective motivators for strong performance! 

The great news is, if you’re a skilled and diligent employee, you have a wealth of options available to increase your earnings–but they won’t just materialize on their own. How much money you make is directly tied to the amount of effort you put in, not just in your job itself, but in your pursuit to increase your earnings. 

We’ll explain why maximizing your earnings is in your best interest (in case you need a few more reasons) and share nine strategies you can implement starting today to achieve a bigger number on your paycheck. 

Benefits of increasing your salary

Greater lifetime earnings

As the old saying goes, it takes money to make money. The more you earn right now, the more you’re likely to earn in the future, since raises are usually based on a percentage of your current salary. 

Also, the more you earn, the more you can take advantage of strategic investing, which is the best way to maximize your net worth over your lifetime. 

Increased flexibility

Being financially secure gives you more options. When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it’s much harder to escape from a dead-end job because you can’t afford to be out of work even for a short amount of time. 

Having a bigger financial cushion allows you to walk away from an unfavorable position, be it in your job, living situation, relationship, or any other aspect of your life. 

Ability to give back

Making more money isn’t completely self-serving. It empowers you to make a difference in the lives of others, like helping family members and contributing to charitable causes you care about. 

9 Ways to make more money in your career

1. Ask for a raise

The most immediate step you can take to make more money is to ask for it. 

Of course, this comes with caveats; you have to be in a position to actually deserve a raise, and the timing needs to be right based on your tenure and the current conditions at your company. If you can check both of these boxes, you might be able to increase your earnings before the day is over.

Be prepared to lay out the case for why you’ve earned a pay bump, citing your accomplishments and the demonstrable impact you’ve made at the company.

Check out this complete guide on how to request a raise!

2. Gain more experience

More experience can help you make the case for a higher salary, not to mention helping you build up valuable material for your resume.

Volunteer to take the lead on a new project. Step up to pick up the slack if another team member is out. Ask your manager for more responsibility. Be sure to take notes along the way to document your progress, which can be helpful when making the case for a raise or promotion in the future. 

3. Increase your education

Statistically speaking, completing a higher level of education is a surefire way to make more money. 

Take a look at this chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The earnings are like stair steps, climbing higher with each additional degree. 

Chart of median annual wages by different degrees

Returning to school mid-career is not uncommon; some companies will even foot some or all of the bill. But you don’t necessarily need to commit to an entire degree program. You can continue your education by earning new technical certifications, attending seminars and conferences, and completing online programs via a site like Coursera

4. Expand your skills

While these strategies will help you make more money no matter what line of work you’re in, it’s also true that some jobs have higher earning potential than others. 

If you’re in a field that’s notorious for lower wages, it might be time to branch into a new skill area that will help you obtain a more lucrative role. For example, data analysis and software development command some of the highest wages. Another option is to learn a skilled trade like plumbing or HVAC, both of which can be incredibly lucrative. 

Are you being paid what you are worth?

Browse our salary data tool to know the current market value for your skills and labor!

5. Enlist your boss

Suppose you plan on staying with your company for at least the foreseeable future. In that case, it’s important to ensure you’re meeting–or better yet, exceeding–expectations to maximize your earnings there. 

To do this, be upfront with your manager about your goals and seek out their feedback on how best to achieve them. Have a candid conversation about what needs to happen for you to obtain the raise and/or promotion you’re looking for, then work together to formulate an action plan. 

6. Make yourself invaluable

One guaranteed way to ensure your income stays on an upward trajectory is to become someone your company can’t afford to lose. When you’re the best at your job, most employers will gladly agree to a raise rather than risk you resigning and having to take on the arduous task of finding your replacement. 

If you’re job searching, this strategy also makes you a more desirable candidate who can attract multiple competing offers (which, in turn, empowers you to ask for more money). 

7. Become a thought leader

The presenter up on stage at that industry conference isn’t sharing their expertise for free. They’re getting paid to do so, and you can too. If you have some experience under your belt, you can translate your expertise into additional income with things like speaking engagements, guest instructor roles, and even authorship. 

You’ll need to become recognized as a thought leader in your field, which can take some time. The good news is, it entails many of the activities you’re probably already doing, like posting on LinkedIn and networking in your field. Then, seek out opportunities to raise your profile, like local speaking engagements and leadership roles in industry groups, and build from there.  

8. Change jobs

From budgetary restrictions to limited advancement opportunities, there are some situations when you can’t make more money by staying where you are. Getting a new job usually comes with a pay bump and may also mean more opportunities to earn raises in the future. 

Before you decide to jump ship, make sure your resume and references are in great shape. Also, consider the timing; try not to leave a job after less than a year or two, especially if you already have one or more short stints in your career history. 

9. Start a side hustle

Maybe your job doesn’t pay well, but you love the work, or maybe the timing isn’t optimal to ask for a raise. Not to worry–there are other channels to make more money than just your day job, and it’s never been easier to do so. 

You can supplement your income outside of your regular gig with a side hustle like freelancing, consulting, or moonlighting for a service like Doordash. If you’re creative, sell your wares on a site like Etsy or at weekend farmer’s markets. Provide a local service like childcare or pet-sitting on nights and weekends. 

With dedication and a little creativity, you’ll be on your way to a bigger bank account balance before you know it.