Is Experience More Important Than Pay?

As a child, you may have played the Would You Rather Game where you choose between two difficult options. For example, “Would you rather be covered in fur or covered in scales?” And sometimes, this game applies to our careers too. “Would you rather have a high-paying job offering a poor experience or a low-paying job offering a terrific experience?”

The correct answer depends. After all, some people would prefer scales over fur or the other way around. Plus, life is seldom that simple. You might only receive one job offer. Then, you wouldn’t have a choice. Other times, you may be deciding between high pay/OK experience and OK pay/great experience.

But… if you had to choose… which should you prioritize? Here’s a brief overview of the pros and cons.

If You Rank Experience as More Important


  • Greater Happiness
    A job offering meaningful work, a fantastic company culture and wonderful colleagues are going to be rewarding. You’ll look forward to getting out of be in the mornings. And THAT could be priceless.
  • More Opportunities for Growth
    This is a major selling point for experience. You may accept less money in the short term, but the right position could dramatically increase your long-term earning potential. Yet keep in mind, if your company doesn’t promote in-house, eventually, you’ll need to move on.


  • Less Money
    Your income impacts everything from the car you drive to where you live. It’s also relative. The difference between $30,000 and $60,000 a year is life-altering, whereas the difference between $130,000 and $160,000 a year is less significant.

If You Rank Pay as More Important


  • More Money
    Regardless of your annual income, a sum like $30,000 is quite a bit of money. You could pay down your debt, move to a better neighborhood or go on fancier vacations. And for some people, those perks are well worth the cost of being a bit unsatisfied with their work.


  • Less Happiness
    A high-stress job with long hours and a toxic work environment probably isn’t worth the price tag. However, as with money, happiness is relative. You may not LOVE your job, but you may not mind it either. You’ll have to decide where your personal level of tolerance is.
  • Fewer Opportunities for Growth
    In this case, short-term gain often results in a long-term loss. Ultimately, a position with limited room for growth could stall your career. Of course, you’ll have to factor in your overall plan too. For instance, if you’re intending to use this job as a steppingstone, the lack of professional development is going to be less of a factor.

Are You Looking for a Job with a Great Experience AND Great Pay?

FirstStaff places light industrial workers, office staff and other professionals with top companies in Fort Smith, Arkansas and beyond. Our recruiters will match you with competitive-paying positions that also offer lots of opportunities for career growth. Learn more about the advantages of job hunting with FirstStaff today!


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