You may have heard it said that salary negotiation is an art, and for many college students it is an art they are completely clueless about. Even though right now you may be more worried about how you will pay for school then how much you will earn afterward, it's never too early to learn about salary negotiation.
Research: You have worked hard to earn a degree and the skills and knowledge you can bring to a job is valuable. While you should be paid according to your qualifications, you should not expect to be overpaid. Be realistic, just because your best friend who majored in engineering is making over $60,000 a year doesn't mean you will. Remember that all industries are different when it comes to starting pay for entry level jobs. While you are still in school take the time to figure out your competitive market value. Do some research and visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics to learn how much other people, with similar qualifications, are being paid. Knowing the earning potential you may have after you graduate will help you to determine whether or not offers you may receive in the future are fair.
Wait: While salary may be the first thing you are thinking about after you get out of school, when talking to a potential employer wait until they are ready to make you an offer. The time to discuss salary is not after the employer has expressed interest in you, but after they have actually made you a serious job offer. Remember, an employer needs to see that you are able to prove yourself before they can decide what you are worth. And once salary amount is discussed, don't accept it right away. Ask them to give you time to consider it, so you will know what negotiations you may need to make before you officially accept the job.
Communicate: When it comes time to negotiating your salary, you are going to have to let an employer know what you can do for the company. Tell them firmly, but modestly, why you are worth a certain amount based on your experience and qualifications. Also be flexible in your salary negotiations, you might not receive as high as an offer as you would like, but it's probably more than you are making now. Remember, sometimes you are going to have to prove to a company that you are worth more than just the average employee.