Getting What You're Worth: Valuable Lessons
By Patricia Cole Holliday, Janet McNichol, and Arlene Pietranton
In this era of funding and reimbursement cutbacks, effectively negotiating a reasonable and desirable level of compensation is more challenging-and more important-than ever before.
Compensation packages not only affect personal take-home pay, but have a very real impact on one's profession as well. Salary data become part of the larger economic picture that is used to determine "what the market will bear" in setting target salaries for a given discipline or profession.
For speech-language pathology, this was taken a step further when salary data from a variety of sources were used by the Health Care Finance Administration (HCFA) to establish interim salary equivalency rates under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Although speech-language pathologists are understandably frustrated by the inequity of salary equivalency rates that are lower than those of occupational therapists or physical therapists, the rates established by HCFA are based on salary "data" that were in turn derived from actual salaries that speechlanguage pathologists have accepted as a condition of employment.
How then, do we maximize our earning potential? There are a number of factors that determine compensation levels on an individual and profession-wide basis. A key variable is our individual ability to understand those factors and make them work to our advantage every time an employment agreement is entered into. In considering an employment offer, it is important to remember that there is always room for negotiation. This is one venue in which the old adage "nothing ventured, nothing gained" is absolutely true.
To effectively negotiate, you must have a realistic understanding of what your services are worth in the marketplace. Although in any field there are many factors that determine compensation, the critical reasons underlying differences in pay and compensation packages relate to a number of identifiable determinants. Following is an overview of those factors, information about various components of the total compensation package, and resources and tips for successfully negotiating an optimal total compensation package.