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Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering | Resources for Online Students

Recently I’ve met with students needing assistance with evaluating job offers. Their focus was on the salary and not the total job offer package. If you’re contemplating a job search, it’s never too early to start researching this topic. In addition to the salary, you need to consider the total compensation package, which includes salary range, cost of living, benefits, relocation expenses, sign-on and yearly bonuses.

Salary range

Do you know what the salary range is for your position? A good place to start your research is or The salary range includes minimum, median and maximum. Some of the students hadn’t done their homework in advance and gave a salary range or accepted a salary below what they were worth. Don’t let this happen to you.

Cost of living

The cost of living varies across the United States. You can check the Cost of Living Comparison or Cost of Living Calculator, which will give cost comparisons between two cities. The salary range should accommodate basic living expenses (e.g. housing, food, utilities, transportation, health care, etc.).


These are a form of non-wage compensation or nice to have additions. Besides health care, they can include vacation, tuition reimbursement, maternity/paternity leave, workplace wellness programs, complimentary coffee and lunches, telecommuting, etc.

Relocation expenses

If you are required to relocate to a different city, moving can be both expensive and time-consuming. In an effort to minimize stress, many companies will offer to pay for some or all of your expenses.

Sign-on bonus

A sign-on bonus is money paid to a new employee by an organization as an extra incentive to join them. Of utmost importance is to understand the terms of the signing bonus. You may receive the check only after you’ve been there a certain length of time. If you leave before a certain date (possibly months or a year away), some companies require that you re-pay the bonus.

Yearly bonus

A yearly bonus is a reward paid to an employee at the end of the year. Many of them depend on the overall performance of the company and of the individual employee.

You can find additional information on this topic at salary negotiation.

Betty Boza is a career development specialist for the Fulton Schools Career Center. Her primary responsibility is assisting online, graduate and doctoral students with all aspects of career development including resume preparation, professional network expansion, effective job search strategies and mock interviews.