80k a year is a good salary

Salary increase: it's over at 40!

More salary - who doesn't dream of it? But as the saying goes: "Apprenticeship years are not master years". Most career starters are therefore well aware that at the beginning of their career they have to expect a rather moderate starting salary. But then things will go steeply up to retirement anyway, right? Unfortunately not! A new study has now found that most employees aged 40 and over stop raising their salaries.

1. Salary increase from 40? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that!
2. Where does the salary jump around the age of 35 come from?
3. Skilled workers from the age of 40 come up against a "glass wall"
4. Managers earn above average up to 50 - and beyond
5. Gender Pay Gap - Women earn up to 40,000 euros less
6. Raising children remains a problem for women
7. Conclusion: Hurry up with your career!

Salary increase from 40? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that!

Many people think of their professional life as a steady rise, both in terms of responsibility and pay. One promotion is followed by the next and with it, of course, a higher salary, right? A new study by the platform Salary.de now proves that this is a fallacy. In her salary biography from 2016, she examined more than 214,000 salaries across Germany and put them in relation to the respective age of the person. The question which should be clarified was: Does the salary actually increase continuously with increasing age?

You can find more infographics at Statista

The graphic already gives a first clue: From the age of 40, only a slight increase in average salaries can be observed, and at 55, even a slight decrease. However, the salary biography provides even more detailed data and separates the results according to specialists and managers. While salary increases for skilled workers are becoming increasingly rare from the age of 40, managers can look forward to rising salaries up to around the age of 50. Even then, however, their earnings stagnate - or even drop slightly again. The consistently increasing average salaries from the above graphic therefore represent a distorted picture of the truth. Let us therefore take a closer look at reality ...

Where does the salary jump around the age of 35 come from?

Let's assume that after completing your studies you will join a company for between 25 and 30 years. As a rule, you are then employed on a temporary basis for one to two years. The starting salary nationwide for university graduates is on average 43,000 euros gross annual earnings. There are of course big differences depending on qualifications, industry, company and negotiating skills.

Reading tip: "Starting salary: This is how it works with the salary expectations"

The change from a fixed-term to an open-ended employment contract often means the first salary increase at the same time. This is usually followed by first promotions, your own project management or the first small management position - and these are usually also accompanied by a salary increase. In addition, experts recommend asking for higher earnings at least every two years.

Reading tip: "Successful salary negotiation: The best tips and arguments"

What was particularly noticeable in the 2016 salary biography was a sharp jump in salary around the age of 35: The annual gross average salary in the study was around EUR 44,385 at the age of 30, but by EUR 51,180 at the age of 35. This is where the leap over the nationwide average salary of specialists and executives takes place, which was 49,371 euros in the study. The explanation of this salary jump is simple: At the age of 35, most employees move up to their first management position and thus to a whole new salary level. If you don't manage to do that by the age of 40, unfortunately you have bad cards afterwards - at least from a financial point of view.

Skilled workers from the age of 40 come up against a "glass wall"

Those who have not made the leap from specialist to manager by their 40th birthday can only expect a sharp rise in salary or a noteworthy promotion in exceptional cases, so the sad conclusion of the salary biography 2016. Your earnings level off from 40 to around 45,000 euros per year - and then remains constant. At around 55 years of age, the study even showed a small decrease in the average salaries of skilled workers.

Managers up to 50 earn above average - and beyond

It is different with executives: whoever has risen to a management position actually still has a chance of the “picture book career” mentioned at the beginning. Executives earn above average in the salary biography and at the same time record a salary increase beyond the age of 50. Even then, salaries begin to stagnate, but with an average gross annual salary of EUR 105,000, this is certainly no cause for complaint.

Reading tip: "Salary study: how much does Germany earn?"

Gender Pay Gap - Women earn up to 40,000 euros less

Unless you are a woman. The salary biography also brings new data to light on the subject of the “gender pay gap” - and unfortunately these are anything but encouraging. In the media there are currently reports that the pay gap between men and women is slowly beginning to close. What remains unmentioned, however, is the enormous difference in earnings, which is still common in Germany.

You can find more infographics at Statista

In the salary biography, too, the sad result was: Female specialists and managers earn significantly less than men in a comparable position. Female skilled workers earn around 15,000 euros less on average than their male colleagues. In the case of executives, the salary difference between men and women is even an average of 40,000 euros. In addition, women have to hurry with their careers even more, because for them The salary level does not stagnate or fall at the age of 40, but rather from the age of 35. Afterwards, a (noteworthy) salary increase is almost impossible for women.

Raising children remains a problem for women

The fact that women in their mid-30s have to accept stagnating or even falling salaries is also related to raising children. It is still mainly women who postpone their careers in favor of children and quit their jobs for several months or even years. Unfortunately, the German corporate world has so far been “unfriendly to mothers”. Many women are therefore still faced with the question: child or career?

Reading tip: "Children - the end of your career?"

Conclusion: hurry up with your career!

As a summary of the salary biography 2016, we can finally give you the following two tips: Hurry up with your career and be brave in salary negotiations. The earlier you complete your training and start your professional life and the higher your starting salary, the higher your earnings will be at 35, 40 or 50 years of age. Unfortunately, at the moment there is nothing you can do about the stagnation in salaries of older specialists and managers. Then it is better if they at least “stagnate at a high level”, right?

Tip:Gross-net salary calculator: what remains of the salary?

What do you think? Can you confirm the stagnating salaries from the age of 40 for skilled workers or from the age of 50 for managers from your own experience? What tips can you give our readers for a higher salary? We look forward to your contribution on the topic in the comments!

Photo credit: Koldunova Anna / Shutterstock.com


DO IT is the newsletter for everyone who always wants to be UP-TO-DATE in JOB and BUSINESS. From career planning and salary negotiations to exciting studies and valuable expert tips. Once a week, free of charge and straight to your mailbox.

You have successfully registered!

Also interesting and worth reading