As you know, the cost of groceries, gas, housing, and pretty much everything has gone up. And that leaves you to wonder, why hasn’t my Salary gone up?
Recently our president has announced that the economy is stabilizing and not because inflation is going down, but because wages are going up.
The other day I went to Target and saw that the starting wages are now $19.50/hour in CA.
And it’s disturbing to see that as an OT working at a hospital my wages are staying the same. In fact, my hospitals is in negotiations with our union to decrease our annual rate increase.
If you haven’t read my OT article on Salary, you should definitely check it out because it gives you a good idea of what OT salary should be. I also talk about it in this video below.
Why your Salary isn’t increasing
So why isn’t the salary for medical professionals going up?
One reason is you haven’t questioned your Salary or asked for a raise. Maybe you’re just comfortable at your job and don’t want to be a burden.
And that’s completely fine, but a simple passive way to get a raise is to interview at a second job and get a job offer and then ask your employer to match their rate. If they refuse you have the freedom of leaving or staying. If they accept, you just got the raise you probably deserve.
Another reason why the therapy world isn’t getting a raise is that hospitals, rehabs, home health agencies are suffering just like me and you. They have to adjust to these changes, and they rarely will offer you a raise unless you ask for it.
So I guess what I’m saying is ASK FOR IT. Talk to your director or boss and see what they can do. Let them know you plan on looking for another job with better pay, and let them know you plan to act quickly.
You’re not going to get fired for asking.
How much should you ask for a raise?
Ok, so how much should you ask for a raise? Now, this is really based on your individual circumstances. For example, you may have just started with a low rate and in that case, you’re going to need to ask for much more. But a good way to know is to check the current inflation rate and add a little extra.
If the inflation rate is 7-8%, ask for 10% more than your current rate. If you’re a new grad and you don’t know what to ask learn how much OTs are making in your area and find out how to maximize your salary.
For a rough estimate, most OTs should be starting out at 45/per hour on the low end. And I would ask for about $60-65/hour on the high end.
If you work in a state or setting that pays high, you’ll have a much easier time getting a higher rate. You’ll also be able to ask for money if you work in a higher populated city.
But the key here is to know your market rate for therapists in your area.
How much should salary improve each year
Year after year, you should expect a 2-3% raise. If you work per diem, you may not see a change in salary, but I’ve worked at some locations that had a 2% raise each year for per-diem employees.
How to get an OT bonus?
The easiest way to get an OT bonus is to move jobs frequently. Most larger facilities will offer bonuses if you work for them for one to five years. There’s usually room to negotiate OT salary especially when you’re just starting a new job.
Negotiate your paid time off
We often forget about the money that can be made by negotiating more paid time off hours. This may be more difficult as a new grad, but if you’ve been working for 5 or 10 years, it’s time to start negotiating your PTO.
You have to constantly be thinking about your personal health especially in these challenging times, and having more PTO will help you feel less stressed and more enregized to enjoy your job.
To sum this all up, the best way to increase your OT salary is by considering one of the following.
- Ask for a raise to offset inflation
- Apply for another job to have a counter offer
- Find another job
- Change jobs often
I know changing jobs isn’t always easy, but sometimes it’s the best way to get paid what you deserve.
I hope this article was helpful. Subscribe for more OT tips and check out my youtube channel when you get a chance.
David is the lead editor of OT Focus. He has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist since 2013. He specializes in acute care, hand therapy, and ergonomics.