Stay and Earn Less, Leave and Earn More?

I came across this article on Forbes a few days ago. It make an argument that I’ve known anecdotally for years, that you earn more money by changing your job. The article says:

“Staying employed at the same company for over two years on average is going to make you earn less over your lifetime by about 50% or more.”

I have seen the good and bad of both sides of this. I know one artist friend of mine who worked at the same studio for 10 years and only got minimal raises the entire time. I had less experience but I was making substantially more money (about $20,000 more a year). One student of mine told me how they worked at a their first studio for three years and then left for another studio and received a 100% increase, doubling their income.

Now, both of these are extreme cases. How does this happen? The article goes on to explain:

"The problem with staying at a company forever is you start with a base salary and usually annual raises are based on a percentage of your current salary. There is often a limit to how high your manager can bump you up since it’s based on a percentage of your current salary. However, if you move to another company, you start fresh and can usually command a higher base salary to hire you."

I have heard of friends who’s salary dropped when they switched from one studio to another, but it’s almost always been the case that they were overpaid to begin with (or it was a case of someone working in CG in the very early days when these skills were rare and salaries were generally much higher). This is another reason why it’s good to keep strong networking connections with your friends at other studios. You should have an idea of what people are making, and where you stand in comparison.

Just to be clear, I’m not recommending that you go out and quit your job. There may be several reasons to stay at a studio for a long period of time. Maybe you get nice, regular raises, maybe you have a great work environment, maybe the studio is close to where you live, maybe the way things are right now is low stress. Changing jobs can be very stressful, you may burn a bridge at the studio you’re leaving, you may not like your coworkers at your new job, etc…

I guess my point is that being complacent often has negative consequences. No one is looking out for you, you have to look out for what’s best for you, your family and your career. Check out the article, see what it says, and if you think I’m full of shit, leave a comment in the box below.

Have a fun and safe Canada Day weekend.