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Understand Your Future Salary

Explore Careers and Salaries

Consider Pay Structures

Compare the Cost of Living

Understand Your Paycheck

It’s never too early to begin thinking about your career. Help ensure a smooth transition to the working world by learning about your future salary and paycheck.

Explore Careers and Salaries


While in school, explore potential career paths and salaries using free resources like and Connect with Career Center to talk with a counselor about your job search. After all, you need to make money in order to manage it!

Consider Pay Structures

Do you want to work a traditional nine-to-five job, or are you looking for work that is flexible? The structure of your work schedule can greatly impact your pay.

  • If you have a commission-based position, your hours and pay could vary and may require you to save a “hill and valley fund” for months when income may be a little lower.

  • If you work a more traditional 40-hour work-week, your income is likely to be fixed.

Understand the difference, build a budget specific to your situation, and avoid living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Compare the Cost of Living


“Cost of living” is defined as the scope of living expenses in a certain area. These expenses vary, but cost of housing is nearly always a significant factor. 

Online cost of living calculators, such as, offer free cost of living statistics for cities and allow you to compare while you explore.

Understand Your Paycheck

What you see isn’t always what you get when it comes to your paycheck. You are required by law to pay taxes to the federal government and, in most cases, to the state in which you reside. These taxes are withheld from your paycheck. Taxes for Social Security and Medicare (FICA), your contributions for retirement savings, and any payments for health insurance as part of your benefits package, are also withheld.

Use the IRS withholding calculator to further explore your potential exemptions. Consult a Certified Public Accountant for all of your tax questions.

If your employer offers a retirement savings plan, you can directly allocate funds to it from your paycheck. Many employers will match a portion of the dollars saved this way. Ask your employer about their match options and work with a plan administrator to develop the best strategy. The IRS lists retirement plan options online.


Department of State – Salary, costs of living & relocation resources.

OCC Job and Internship Center – Explore internship and job opportunities on and off campus.

OCC Career Center – Talk to a counselor about building your resume and discovering career opportunities.

PayScale – Research industry salary information based on experience and location.

IRS Retirement Plans – Explore retirement plans options on this thorough website.

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