What do you think of these work benefits? And tips for negotiation?
April 25, 2013 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Fresh architecture grad getting into the job market. Want to know if you can help break down these job benefits so I can better wrap my head around them and tips you might have for negotiation.

I have undergraduate degree in architecture and am residing in Maryland.

The salary is ranging in the mid 30k to low 40k.


- Health Insurance: Arch. firm will pay 75% of the basic plan premium plan (for individual emp. only) and the rest is deducted pre-tax on a semi-monthly basis.

- Dental: $2.53 per pay deducted from employee, pre-tax and the firm also pays the balance or 75% of premium. There is a $50.00 annual deductible for basic and major services.

- Long Term Disability and Life Insurance premiums are paid by firm

- Leave with Pay: Employees accrue 5.666 hours per pay (136 hours per year)

- Paid holidays (2013): 8

- IRA Simple Plan: Firm contributes 2% of employee’s salary. Employee has a contribution limit of $11,500 pretax dollars.

- Flexible Spending Account (optional): Premium, determined by employee, is deducted from employee’s pay, pre-tax for various out of pocket medical expenses

So far, I know I'll want to ask which types of health care plans I can choose from as well as more information on the dental plan. But does anything else stick out that I should ask about? And how does everything sound to you? I'd appreciate help breaking this down since I don't really have anyone in my family to turn to to ask about this.

Also, are there any benefits that you suggest trying to negotiate for? Should I even negotiate? And do you have any tips or suggestions on how to negotiate successfully, whether it be for salary or benefits?

Additional Information: Single female in mid 20s. No kids. Renting an apartment in MD. No car (will likely walk to work, approx. 35 min) and will take the bus when the weather is bad out. I'm entry level so I know I won't have much bargaining power, but I figure as long as I'm not aggressive about it it shouldn't hurt to try!

posted by bluelight to Work & Money (7 answers total)
I don't know about architecture specifically, but from my software engineering perspective, those seem alright, nothing special, though. Some things really aren't very negotiable - you're not likely to get the company to set up a whole new health plan just for you or anything. You could potentially ask for more vacation, but honestly, it's a lot easier to negotiate salary than benefits. Employers expect people to ask for more money, they don't expect them to try and get the retirement plans modified.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 2:50 PM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Agree with bluelight - they won't change the benefits for you, but salary and vacation are the main negotiables. Personally I did not negotiate my first entry-level position, as I didn't have any special talent that they were in dire need of (education and internship experience aside).
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:14 PM on April 25, 2013

Is that retirement account 2% employer match or a straight 2% contribution (meaning that they put in 2% no matter what you put in)? Either way that does seem a bit lower than standard - I'm used to seeing something above 5% (in my non-arch professional field). However, if the salary is comparably higher, then that's probably actually better (you could always take the difference and save it yourself). Also, do you have to wait for the employer contribution to vest, or is it "yours" right away?

Does that leave with pay include sicktime? I'm assuming so. Does it roll over every year? is there a total cap? Do you earn more PTO as you advance in seniority?
posted by muddgirl at 3:20 PM on April 25, 2013

Pretty standard, and generous vacation time for an architecture firm.
posted by Kriesa at 3:30 PM on April 25, 2013

I agree with muddgirl that the retirement match is low.
posted by sacrifix at 7:42 PM on April 25, 2013

Aside from the anemic retirement match, those benefits are pretty much what most people get. Negotiate the salary.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:53 AM on April 26, 2013

First job out of school? Good going!
The construction industry was hit hard and is just now starting to see signs of improvement where I am in NC. Those are great benefits and salary ranges in my local area. (I've been at it for over 15 years)
posted by mightshould at 4:50 PM on April 26, 2013

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