Friday, February 23, 2024
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When I Was Hired at My First Tech Job I Got an 81% Salary Bump

Welcome to “Salary Journeys,” a series that discusses how much people have made over their careers.
In this journey, 34-year-old Pam shares how she pivoted from wellness to tech.
Pam didn’t know what to expect from tech, but she’s found the flexible culture rewarding.
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This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Pam, a 34-year-old senior customer success manager at a tech company based in Atlanta. Her current job and income have been verified by Insider and her last name has been omitted for privacy reasons. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I never thought I’d work in tech, but I’ve been working as a senior customer success manager at a tech company that sells data privacy and security software for just over two years. Last year I made $102,000 plus a 12% bonus and 500 stock options, which brought my total compensation in 2023 to around $114,000.
When I moved to Atlanta to start my career 10 years ago, I took a job that fit my passions for fitness and wellness. I knew it didn’t pay much, but at least I was in a field I was excited about.
I didn’t consider working in tech because its stuffy reputation turned me off, but the skills I learned in customer relations in my early jobs have transferred to this new industry. As soon as I switched to tech, I earned $30,000 more than I made at my wellness job. Plus, I find myself enjoying the flexible and casual culture.
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From this pivot, I’ve learned that staying open to big changes can create huge leaps in compensation — without sacrificing satisfaction. In many ways, leaving the wellness space has made me happier than ever. Here is my salary journey over eight jobs.
Wellness guest services associate, $25,000
My first job after moving to Atlanta in 2014 and looking to start my career was with a corporate wellness management company, and it required very basic skills for which I was overqualified. I was 24 years old working as a guest services associate making $25,000 a year.
I took the job mostly because it was an opportunity for me to get in with a company I wanted to work for. I had to start somewhere, and an industry I’ve always been passionate about felt like a good first step.
Wellness associate, $29,000
A year later, I was earning $29,000 a year as a wellness associate. The company changed facilities and I moved into a new role overseeing more of the actual wellness programming. I was happy to make this change because it seemed to put me on a path I’d been eyeing.
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Within the year, I was promoted to wellness coordinator, which came with another small pay bump. I was 26 and making $32,000.
Wellness program manager, $37,000
The first taste of career success came when I was put in charge of managing my own wellness facility within a multi-tenant complex. This is also where I honed my client relationship management skills. I was the face of the facility for my members while also working with the building property manager to make sure I stayed within budget.
After a couple of years at this facility, and thinking about my career progression, I knew my passions could only take me so far. I saw the dead end approaching. Since I knew I enjoyed the business side of managing the facility, I applied to business school in 2018.
Maintaining both responsibilities was fairly easy since I felt I’d mastered the role by that point. This was a sign I needed to make a career change. With some encouragement from friends, who said I should look at roles in tech because of the job security it offered, I began applying.
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Associate customer success manager, $57,000 plus $10,000 bonus (first tech job)
My first tech role had me hooked. Both the pay and the work-life balance were so much better. I had unlimited PTO and could work remotely two days a week. My $67,000 all-in compensation represented an 81% raise from my prior role.
I was a top performer in this role, where I supported dozens of clients using our platform and managed their accounts. This led to a promotion to senior associate customer success manager and a salary of $67,000 with a $15,000 bonus.
I had to negotiate hard for this salary because I’d learned through discussions with colleagues that I was being underpaid despite equal performance and experience. My manager couldn’t close the gap entirely, but he did get me closer.
Technical account manager, $97,000 plus 10% bonus, 500 options
When I was 31, I was eager to keep growing. So, when a recruiter reached out to me with a position at a new company, I jumped on it. It was a more technical role assisting clients as they used our platform, which I liked, and with a late-stage startup. It felt like a role where I could add a lot of value and grow with a company that was already well-established.
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The company restructured during this time, and my title changed to customer success manager. This was in 2022, and the year was all about uncertainty as so many people in tech were just happy to have a job still.
I received 125% of my 10% bonus that year, but no promotion or merit increases. Still, I felt like I was being well compensated despite soaring inflation.
Senior customer success manager, $102,000 plus 12% bonus, 500 options
Right around my two-year anniversary, I was promoted to senior customer success manager. It came with a 5% salary increase and 2% bonus increase. This is the role I’m in now.
I still think I’m well compensated. We’re not Google, but we’re also not a no-name startup. We’re leading the market in our space, so I’d like to see my base salary closer to $115,000 and a 15% bonus. Our annual reviews are coming up shortly. I hope my manager can deliver on my ask.
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I’m proud I made the switch from wellness to tech
Whatever happens, I’m proud of myself for making the switch out of wellness and into tech. I had no idea my skills would transfer like they have. I have no plans to leave this industry, but I’ve learned that staying open to change can bring exciting opportunities.
I encourage anyone who feels like their passions are limiting their potential to figure out which skills are transferable to a higher-paying field. Oh, and be nice to recruiters on LinkedIn when they come knocking! You never know when you might need them again.

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