CareerBuilder Salary Survey Asks Workers What They Need to Earn to Feel Successful
- Majority of Americans do not earn their desired salary; $75k is tipping point
- Men nearly twice as likely as women to need $100k or more to feel successful
- Most workers who ask for a raise get them; women less likely to ask
- 3 in 10 employers openly disclose employee salaries
PR Newswire

CHICAGO, July 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Income growth for American workers has been largely stagnant during the economic recovery, and a new CareerBuilder survey on salaries confirms that most workers are not earning what they want. Sixty-five percent of full-time U.S. workers say they do not currently earn their desired salary; 35 percent do.

But how much money do people need to earn to feel content with their pay? And is that amount different than what people need to feel successful?  CareerBuilder's study answers these questions - comparing genders - and takes a closer look at pay transparency within private organizations. 

The nationwide survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from May 13 to June 6, included representative samples of 3,372 full-time workers and 2,188 hiring managers and human resource professionals across salary levels, industries and company sizes.

Reaching a Desired Salary
Naturally, the percentage of workers who say they earn their desired salary is positively correlated with rising incomes. While a majority of Americans are not satisfied with their current salaries, there does appear to be a tipping point. From the $75,000-$100,000 income range up, a majority of workers say they earn their desired salary.

Percentage who earn desired salary by income level

Less than $50k

$50- less than 75k

$75- less than 100k

$100- less than 150k

$150k or more













Additionally, 39 percent of men say they currently earn their desired salary – nine points higher than women (30 percent). 

"The survey supports past research suggesting that the $75,000 threshold is particularly significant, as this level allows households in most areas of the country to not only get by, but enjoy an ideal lifestyle and a secure future," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "Interestingly, what workers would ultimately like to earn does not necessarily factor into what they need for a successful career."

Salary and Career Success
Despite the fact nearly two-thirds of workers aren't yet satisfied with their earnings, most feel they can feel successful without earning large paychecks. In fact, more than half (55 percent) said they can feel successful making less than $70,000

Seventy-eight percent don't think they need to earn $100,000 or more to be successful. Although, men are nearly two times as likely as women to need $100,000 or more (29 percent versus 15 percent).

What salary do you need to earn to feel successful?




Under $50,000




















$200,000 or more




"In many cases, success is relative to the type of work individuals do or their current career stage. Regardless of income, we found that workers tend to find success near their own salary level or in the range directly above," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "This is healthy because it shows workers can derive meaning from their work at any level while still striving for that next promotion or raise."      

Asking for a Raise Works (Most of the Time)!
Most workers (56 percent) have never asked for a raise. However, success rates are very high among those who have. Two-thirds (66 percent) of workers who asked for a raise received them.

The rate is virtually the same for men and women; however, women are less likely to have asked for a raise (38 percent) than men (49 percent). 

Should Companies Make All Employee Salaries Transparent? 
Salary transparency – disclosing the pay of all employees at a company – is a hotly contested subject among workers and employers, as concerns over privacy and potential lawsuits clash with hopes that transparency could actually ensure pay equality and foster a competitive meritocracy within firms.

Nearly 3 in 10 (29 percent) employers openly disclose worker salaries. IT companies and sales organizations lead all industries, at 37 percent and 34 percent, respectively. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees are more likely to openly disclose all salaries than most other company sizes. A similar share (28 percent) list salary ranges in job listings.    

While a majority of employers do not make pay transparent, support for such a policy is strong. Nearly half (47 percent) of employers view openly disclosed salaries as positive, with 24 percent saying it ensures pay equality and 23 percent saying it can dispel wrong assumptions.

Fifty-three percent of employers view pay transparency as negative, with 42 percent citing jealousy and morale issues, 33 percent saying it violates worker privacy, and 19 percent saying it can lead to equal pay litigation.

Workers appear to be even less favorable to the idea, however. Two-thirds (65 percent) would not like it if their company openly disclosed all salaries.         

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 3,372 workers and 2,188 hiring and human resource managers ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between May 13 and June 6, 2014 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With pure probability samples of 3,372 and 2,188, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have sampling errors of +/- 1.69 percentage points and +/-2.10, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

About CareerBuilder®
CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site,®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors and 1 million jobs. CareerBuilder works with the world's top employers, providing everything from labor market intelligence to talent management software and other recruitment solutions. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

Media Contact
Ryan Hunt

SOURCE CareerBuilder