Thrifty Tony

How Much of a Salary Increase to Expect When You Change Jobs?

Salary increase

The best way to increase your salary dramatically is by switching jobs. I’ve been working professionally as an engineer for 8 years now and during that time I worked for 3 different companies. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you the salary increases that I received after job hopping and explain why you should seriously consider this for yourself.

Here is a chart of my salaries over time since my first job out of college back in 2012. Without even explaining what’s going on here, you can probably easily figure out where I switched jobs.

My salary as a computer scientist since graduating college

3 years into my career, I changed jobs from one company to another and realized a salary increase of over 22%, and then 3 years later, I did the same exact thing and received another 22% salary bump by switching jobs yet again.

I can only share with you my personal experience in my industry, but I would say that you should expect a salary increase percentage of at least 10% when switching companies, assuming you keep your same job title with similar responsibilities. Anything less than this might not be worth it depending on your circumstances, and of course you need to consider factors like cost of living especially if you are moving to a different city.

For me, I was in Baltimore, MD for my first 2 jobs and Tucson, AZ for my most recent one. It turns out that the cost of living in Tucson is much less than that of Baltimore, so I did exceptionally well considering.

What Happens if You Don’t Switch Jobs?

Let’s look at my salary graph again and let’s assume that I never changed jobs from the beginning. Projecting this out until today and assuming that I did not receive any major job promotions, my salary would be substantially less… over $30,000 less by staying with my first company out of college and not switching jobs. 

Notice how my salary would not have seen significant increases if I did not switch jobs.

Companies have minimal incentive to hand out large salary increases other than your typical annual raise to keep up with inflation, but on the other hand, incoming employees have lots of leverage when it comes to salary expectations.

Even when we take my salary graph and adjust it for inflation, my salary bump after changing jobs continues to be quite substantial

My salary graph adjusted for inflation.

I do just want to point out that my first employer did a good job of adjusting my annual salary for inflation as you can see here by the fact that this line continues to increase. Contrast this with my other employers who did, indeed, give me annual salary increases, but these raises were not enough to overcome the inflation rate and that’s why you see the lines decreasing here and here.

Limitations to Salary Increases When Changing Jobs

There are some limitations to consider when changing jobs. For example, you cannot go around job hopping every year because this doesn’t look good on your resume. At some point, your prospective employers will take notice of your lack of commitment and disregard you as a candidate. I found that for me in my industry, every 3 years or so is a safe frequency to change companies.

You will also want to consider internal promotions. This is an opportunity to receive a salary increase without moving to another company. Find out when you are due for a promotion before heading out the door.

In either case, my hope is that by sharing this information with you, you can be more confident in changing jobs and in turn get yourself a higher salary.

Thrifty Tony

Thrifty Tony

Tony approaches most things in life with a budget-conscious mindset while at the same time maximizing investments which results in an ideal balance between spending and saving. And of course he enjoys free things and bonuses every now and then.