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I Make $137,500 As A Healthcare Consultant — & I Got A $29K Raise By Switching Jobs


In our seriesSalary Stories, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.

Been in the workforce for at least eight years and interested in contributing your salary story? Submit your information here.

Previously, we talked to human resources founder/CEO in New York City, a behavioral health consultant in Houston, TX, and a social worker in Raleigh, NC.

Age: 39
Current Location: Atlanta, GA
Current Industry & Title: Healthcare Consulting, Senior Associate
Starting Salary: $24,000 (2003, post-undergrad), $45,000 (2007, post–grad school)
Current Salary: $137,500
Number Of Years Employed: 14
Biggest Salary Jump: $29,000 (from $96,000 to $125,000 in 2017)
Biggest Salary Drop: $20,000 ($32,000 to $12,000 in 2005 — I went from a full-time job to a part-time research job in grad school.)

Biggest Salary Negotiation Regret: "My soon-to-be boss for my first consulting job gave me a $20,000 range in salary for the position. When HR asked my salary requirement, I gave her the median number in the range because I was afraid to ask for the top amount. That fear cost me $10K initially, and resulted in a compounded lower salary for the next decade."
Best Salary-Related Advice: "Know your worth and don't be afraid to ask for what you need when negotiating salary (more money, more PTO, etc.)."

"Entry-level job at the local health department. I was overqualified and should have been hired at a higher level, but I loved the job and didn't mind initially.

"I conducted health outreach for the preschool (0-5) population in the county. This included visiting preschools, child-care centers, WIC clinics, etc. and presenting on topics including nutrition, oral health, covering your cough, and the importance of hand washing."

"I saw an opening for a higher position within the health department and applied. I was already doing the same type of work in the previous level and realized that I could be making/saving more. Several programs within the health department wanted to hire me at the outreach specialist level, which felt great.

"I continued to conduct health outreach, but this time in the tobacco cessation realm. We ran a youth coalition, did lots of community events, and helped get local anti-tobacco policies passed within the city."

"I began grad school and started working part-time as a research assistant. My salary dropped significantly, but it was enough to live on, and my tuition was completely covered. I knew I needed to get a master's degree to make any type of money in the field of public health, and this was a means to an end."
"After grad school, I was offered a fellowship in D.C. via a nonprofit to work for the federal government. I was excited about the move to the East Coast, and that was the most money I had ever made at the time. It was barely enough to live on in D.C., but the fellowship was only a year, and I figured the experience I gained would lead to better opportunities in the future.

"This was my first exposure to healthcare at the federal level. My daily duties included grants management for about 10 children's hospitals funded by the federal government. The fellows were also invited to participate in special education events within the agency."

"I began searching for jobs as my fellowship was coming to an end. I was offered a job with a nonprofit in California (where I grew up) with a salary of $50K. I was also offered a consulting job in D.C. and was told the position's salary range was between $60K and $80K. I asked for $70,000 because I thought it would be safe and was too afraid to ask for the higher end of the range. I got the job, but looking back I've always regretted not asking for $80K. My PTO was 15 days/year.

"The company was a large management consulting firm, and I worked in the healthcare division for another federal healthcare client. My work focused on health information technology (health IT), and I helped develop and publicly vet use cases that focused on public health."

"I switched jobs a year later when the company I worked for was bought out by another firm. My new company was an even larger management consulting firm that had a focus on technology, defense, and healthcare. I worked for several different agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services and for the Veterans Health Administration over the years. I developed clinical support tools to assist physicians treating, and veterans suffering from, traumatic brain injury and their families. I also continued working on national health IT-related initiatives.

"I was initially offered $90,000, countered with $95,000, and was met with $91,500. I learned from my previous salary negotiation that I can and should ask for more than what I am offered. I wouldn't have been upset with the original offer, but I was happy that they did increase it slightly. The company also offered a 10% match for 401(k) contributions, and I began maxing out my contributions after getting married in 2010."

My "promotion" was basically in name only. I'd been receiving an increase of about 3% a year for cost of living. The "promotion" came with a 2% increase, less than the previous years' annual bump. I was frustrated by this, but was happy to have my work recognized. I moved from D.C. to Atlanta and was able to transfer to my company's office in Atlanta, while keeping my D.C. salary. My PTO increased to 22 days/year, up from 15.
"I was increasingly unhappy with my company. The office in Atlanta revolved around white men, and I didn't feel comfortable there anymore. When an old colleague reached out to me via LinkedIn about a new opportunity, I was happy to talk. Leaving my job after eight years was difficult, but this new opportunity allowed me to work from home, which was a huge bonus.

"My new bossed asked me to name my price. I nervously asked for $125K, and he agreed to it. The company offered 15 days of PTO; I countered with and was granted 20 days/year.

"I went from working for a Fortune 500 company to a very small consulting company of two. It was a huge change — some things were great (no commute, no need to buy work clothes), others not so much (no tech support, having to ask for a 401(k) to be set up).

"This job (which is my current job), is still in the federal healthcare realm. I'm currently serving as a health IT subject-matter expert and am helping support the client in improving healthcare quality using innovative health IT."

"During a semi-regular check-in call with my boss, he asked if I was happy with my salary. I mentioned that I was happy, but that I had been there almost two years and hadn't received a bonus (as he had previously mentioned) or a cost-of-living increase. He called me a few days later and told me he was giving me a 10% raise and that we could revisit a bonus at the end of the year. I was pleasantly surprised and so thankful. My parents are immigrants who worked multiple jobs so my siblings and I could get good educations and have a better life. I never thought I would make as much money as I do now, and I do my best to help my parents to thank them for all of their sacrifices."

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