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Do you ever wonder what your life would have been like if you had taken a different path? For example, what if you had studied something different in college? Or, if you had worked in a different industry? Or, if you had a different role at work?

When I was in graduate school, a professor casually mentioned that I should go into consulting at a big firm. I had no idea what that meant. I never asked, and he never explained. I have wondered what my path would have been like if we had just one conversation.

In the past, I would have said career differences don’t matter much. You simply needed to end up in a job that would pay the bills. But, a disturbing trend is becoming more apparent. There are larger and larger gaps in pay between workers.

This trend can also be seen in our economy as a whole. Many indicators say the economy is doing well. But, someone making less than $50,000 per year most likely doesn’t feel that way. They are probably struggling to make ends meet. On the flip side, those who are doing well seem largely untouched by our current economic challenges. But, they are also often making $200,000 or more.

What are these different groups doing differently? It can be more random than you might think. It’s not necessarily that the higher paid person is working harder or longer hours. And, it’s not necessarily that they are any smarter than anyone else. Often, it’s the particular educational and career path that they happened to end up on pays more.

If you are a parent of a teenager or young adult, this column is for you. If you want to help your child pick the best career, do research. Look at sites like to see how much various jobs pay. If your child is looking at certain colleges, look up what is called a “post-graduation report.” It will tell you which fields their graduates are working in, and how much money they are making.

Two different degrees may cost the same amount of money to earn. However, the careers they lead to may be very different. And, one career may pay $50,000 pear year, while the other pays $200,000.

Don’t get me wrong. Money isn’t everything. But, if there are two jobs that would be a good fit for a person, and one pays four times what the other pays, wouldn’t you want to select the higher paying option?

If you are already in your career path, and you’re feeling financially strained, do some research. First, learn if you are underpaid for the work you do today. If you aren’t underpaid, but are still not making enough money, look at other options. Consider what transferrable skills you have that you can take to another field that will pay more. This can help you to close the salary divide.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


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