Your College Major Influences Whether You Ask for a Raise (No Matter Where You Work)

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A new PayScale survey reveals which college majors are most (and least) likely to ask their boss for higher pay. The results may surprise you.

Whether you studied engineering or public administration, your college major affects whether you’ll ask your boss for a raise, no matter what field you’re working in.

A new salary survey from PayScale found that English majors are effective in getting their employer to approve a bump in pay. English majors are the most likely to request a raise.

“Fifty-one percent of English literature and language majors have asked for a raise, and 49 percent have received the raise they’ve asked for,” the survey said. Not bad, word lovers.

If you picked a protective services-related major (like homeland security, law enforcement or firefighting), you are the least likely to request a raise. No surprise there.

“This probably isn’t because of any fear of confrontation, but rather that people who study these subjects tend to go on to work for the government, where pay is less negotiable than in the private sector,” PayScale explained. Also, these majors were the least likely (18 percent) to have their request for a bump in pay approved.

So, which major is most likely to have a raise request approved? Nearly 63 percent of math and statistics majors said if they ask for a raise, it’s approved. An additional 37 percent said they received at least a portion of the raise they requested.

Engineers are the least likely to ask their boss to pony up more money. “When asked why they hadn’t negotiated, engineering majors were most likely to say it was because they had always been happy with the salary they earned,” PayScale said.

If you chose a major such as public administration or social services, where you’ve committed to dedicating your life to serving others, you are (not surprisingly) the least likely to request a raise.

Other survey findings include:

  • Men vs. women. There’s not much difference between men (44 percent) and women (42 percent) requesting a raise.
  • Salary impacts raise approval. The amount of money you earn affects whether you ask for a raise, and if you receive it. MarketWatch said:

Just 31 percent of those making between $10,000 and $20,000 a year have asked for a raise (and of those that did, just 25 percent got the full amount) and only 37 percent of those making $20,000 to $30,000 (32 percent got the full amount). Meanwhile, more than half of people making $150,000 and up have asked for a raise and of those, 70 percent got what they asked for.

Just 43 percent of Americans have asked for a raise, the survey revealed. If you want a raise but need some advice on how to talk to your boss, click here.

I’ve never asked for a raise. Not once. Even when I’ve believed I deserved one, I’ve always been reluctant to ask.

Did any of the survey findings surprise you? Share your experiences requesting a raise below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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