Higher Pay vs. Better Benefits: Which is More Important?

by Dec 8, 2022

When you start your job search, it’s easy to hyperfocus on salary. After all, a good salary can help you achieve your life goals and give you a sense of stability.

However, you shouldn’t overlook the benefits section of job adverts before discarding them altogether. Some jobs come with a healthy benefits package that more than makes up for a lower wage or salary.

Ultimately, you want to balance your motivation between benefits and salary to ensure that you have the best experience possible when you enter the job market.

Salary requirements

Before you sign the dotted line, you need to establish your salary requirements and expectations. This is important, as you want your career to fund your life goals like buying a home, travelling the world, or starting a family.

Take a holistic, long-term approach when considering your salary requirements. Consider things like the house prices in your area and the average income in your state. Even if you aren’t ready to buy a home, consider factors like the cost of living. Average costs fluctuate vastly between cities — the average rent in Sydney is $2681 per month, whereas rent in Canberra will only set you back $1168 according to a 2018 report.

Establish a ballpark figure that you need to live comfortably. This will give you some wiggle room and allow you to take on benefits packages that sound attractive to you.


Although Australia provides Medicare for those that can’t afford healthcare or whose employers don’t provide insurance, many have found vast differences in the coverage between the two. According to the aforementioned 2018 report, 13.6 million Australians have private health care as a result, but few actually understand what their insurance packages get them. Fortunately, employers who provide healthcare to their employees are keen to increase awareness and push their employees to take advantage of private insurance.

The level of private care you can expect to receive differs depending on the policy your employer takes out. You must read the fine print when evaluating the cover that will be afforded to you. You can also ask about insurance coverage during interviews and initial outreach, as hiring managers should be prepared to answer questions about benefits.

Better insurance may outweigh a higher salary if you know that you need an operation or will benefit from robust coverage. For example, if you have poor vision, policies that cover operations like laser eye surgery will be invaluable. Without insurance to cover these expensive yet essential procedures, you’ll end up with a hefty bill as they may not be seen as essential under Medicare’s coverage. 


Working for employers who fund and support training can boost your career potential. Some employers even list funds for training as an additional benefit in their job advertisements.

Explore training opportunities and career development pathways before you sign any contracts. Some employers will list “training” as a benefit but are hesitant to fund opportunities for career development. Ask about previous employees who have taken advantage of training and learn more about the business’s approach to advancement.

Some employers will even fund university credits and degrees. This can be particularly useful if you wish to return to school for a master’s program. Usually, this is reserved for loyal employees who show signs of potential but need extra qualifications to ascend the corporate ladder.

However, not all training opportunities require a big spend. If you’re looking for a job in marketing, ask about opportunities to attend workshops and professional development courses. This will help you stay on top of current social media trends and give you the skills you need to produce podcasts, live streams, and monetized content.

You may wish to sacrifice salary in favour of training opportunities if you have career ambitions that require extra qualifications. If this is the case, you need to communicate clearly with hiring managers to ensure that you receive training funds promptly after signing on.

Quality-of-life benefits

The COVID-19 pandemic has made extra benefits like working from home and flexible scheduling more important than ever before. These extra benefits will improve your quality of life and help you strike a better work-life balance.

Start by assessing your own motivations. Do you want to work in the office? Hybrid? Entirely remotely? Knowing yourself and your life goals will make job hunting that much easier.

If you do want to work remotely, consider the level of support you expect to receive. Will your employer pay for things like a home office, or will you need to foot the bill yourself? If you start to feel isolated, does your employer have access to mental health resources to get you back on track?

Usually, quality-of-life benefits are considered “extras” to help you decide between offers. So, if you have two or more offers to consider, try to imagine your life at each business and consider what your average day would look like. Do you want to spend time commuting? Do you want to be around your peers in an office environment? Answering these questions can help you decide between higher pay or better benefits.


Deciding between higher pay and better benefits can be challenging. Make the decision easier by establishing the salary you need to earn to achieve your life goals and note down the key benefits that you are looking for. If you’re still struggling to decide between offers, try to imagine your average day at each business, and consider which offer will give you the best work-life balance.

Cover Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher

Freelance Writer

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and search for the truth. You can follow her work at charliefletcher.contently.com