How Much Are You Really Getting Paid?

Posted on October 7, 2008

Every working man (or woman) has a reason for being at his/her current gig. Some (like me) find it an interesting intellectual exercise. Some are truly passionate about what they do, especially if they’re freelancing, or starting their own shop.

And of course, there’s always the pleasant smell of a few green ones in the wallet. Nothing wrong with that, of course.

But here’s an interesting thought experiment – how much are you really getting paid for all those working hours?

If you’re an hourly worker, the answer is fairly obvious. But what if you’re salaried? Then things get a bit more interesting. One might think that someone off the clock necessarily has it better, but being the brutally direct engineer I am, I prefer to let the math speak for itself:

Your Hourly Rate = (Total Compensation) / (Hours Per day * Days Per week * Total Weeks Per Year)

Your Total Compensation should include your base salary, as well as any fat, juicy bonuses that might be heading your way (or not). Your Hours Per Day should probably be a moderate estimate – on one hand, you may not be at the grindstone every second of every day, but your time at the office is still valuable. Your Days Per Week should take into account the days you’re really at work – this might include weekend support rotations. As for your Total Weeks Per Year, subtract your vacation days (usually 2-3 work week’s worth, in my industry).

Plug and chug. The answer might be surprising.

Disclaimer: This very rough equation obviously doesn’t take into account health benefits, stock options, gym membership, free strawberries and muffins, or any of the little things that sweeten up jobs. And of course, comparing two industries is like comparing apples and oranges – hour by hour, I might make the same amount of money as the driver of a concrete mixer, but I’d make a terrible truck driver.

But if you compare your job situation to that of your friends and peers, you might be able to see if you’re being fairly compensated for all of your efforts. Salaries alone usually don’t tell the whole story.

» Filed Under Everything and Nothing, Work, Writing


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