I drew some fire the last time I started in on this topic, and I
hesitated to get it going again, but what the heck! Somebody’s got
to do the dirty work. I’m not a kid and I can take it.
You’re in Texas, an area not known for paying it’s jewelers real well
(OK you Texans, fire away, I didn’t say it, JCK did!). I’m in
Northwest Michigan, another area notorious for underpaying EVERYBODY!
(we like to say, "half the pay and a view of the Bay). If you’re
paid bi-weekly, you’re probably making more than I am, and I’m a 30
year veteran that does everything. Not bragging, just had lot’s of
experience and practice (and a BFA and MFA in metalsmithing doesn’t
hurt). If I want to go down state and live in the metropolitan area,
I can make another $15,000 a year. So, location has a lot to do with
it. You could be in Scottsdale AZ and maybe make twice as much, or
Boston or DC and make a lot too, but those places get expensive to
live in. On another note, you could be in Albany (or my own town) and
be lucky to get $35,000 a year. If you’re real good, and I suspect
you are, we’ve got some people here on Orchid who’ll do right by you.
My guess is, you’re probably working in a small retail store.
Here’s how they (and their accountants) see it. They make maybe
$750,000 a year in sales. Maybe you bring in $175,000 in custom work
and another $75,000 in repairs. Let’s say they’ve got 2 sales people
(and a manager, they job out the bookeeping or the manage does that
too). They pay the sales people $25,000 a year each. They can’t
imagine why you and the two sales people each brings in the same
amount of money but you need to be paid twice as much as they do.
Never mind that the sales people are making 50% margin on what they
do and you’re doing 65-75%. Never mind that you set every diamond
they sell and size every ring and they’d have to pay somebody to pack
and unpack it to send it out to a trade shop and all that’s not free
either. Why, that’s only another $50,000 that you’re worth (which is
a handy sum, by the way). These are “merchandisers” and they figure
hey, put in another watch line and make that much (if you can sell
about 10 a week all year
round!). You may have noticed that the last tim ners were by people who's names matched the names of the business they worked for. In other words, these guys are independant. That's the face of the new breed, in my opinion. The merchandisers are fighting a losing battle. They're getting squeezed between the mall chain stores, the few big retailers (who kill them with discounts and heavy advertizing budgets), and the new kid on the block, the internet. Guys like you and me, we look and see that a non-union bricklayer in Hoboken is making $27 and hour, and we either transfer to a job in the dental lab or start a little business from an office doing "Custom by appointment only" and a couple trade accounts. Pretty soon, we're their most dangerouns competitor, because we can do the repairs better and faster, we can sell cheaper (little overhead), we've got "Something Different" and we can give them that "personal touch" which, if they could put a price on it, they'd see is THE most valuable aspect of their business (in light of what their big competitors can't provide). Wages in our trade don't go up much. When they do, it's because their jeweler finally got fed up and left, and they got desperate enough to pay a little more to replace him. My opinion on your situation, you should be getting about $48,000 and benifits even in a small store in a small town in Texas, especially after 5 years and especially with your credentials. So should I, since I've got major chops too. The next guy just might get that, either that or they'll learn the joys of dealing with a trade shop 500 miles away until they get lucky again. Meanwhile, get in touch with the folks at Christianson (http://www.Cgroup1.com), take a look at some of the positions they list, and see if you can get some leverage. You can check out http://www.jobs4gems.com too, but that's probably going to be more of the same-ol-same`ol. Good