By Hamza Sulayman, PhD
One of the most difficult questions to answer among Nigerians is “How much is your salary?”. It does not matter who asked the question; the answer is always tricky. It might be a father asking his son or daughter after spending a fortune paying for their education, or a wife asking her beloved husband. The reason behind this varies from one person to another.
I came across a US-based content creator (IG: americanincome) who moves around the cities of the US asking strangers about their annual salary. To my surprise, they always answer right away and specifically to the last dollar. He asked some follow-up questions, like what did you study? And from which university, how many years of experience do you have? And what advice will you give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
To me, that type of content creation is amazing because it provides the young generation with factual data on how they can achieve their goals, which is much better than what the guidance and counselling departments of schools and universities can offer. That is, if the department exists.
My recent interaction with some youth led me to believe that they are after the money or, as they say, “secure the bag”. So, for example, if you are willing to get $150,000 per year, you should work as a Data Analyst, Model, or Software Engineer. If you are humble, you can be a high school teacher and earn about $42,000 a year. If you have a higher taste, you can be a doctor or dentist and rake about $200,000 to $300,000. There are other non-formal sectors with high income, like a professional barber earning $300,000 (I was surprised too) and a sneaker dealer earning $150,000. Top on the list was a luxury watch seller that makes $1,200,000 yearly.
Enough with the numbers, can you answer the question? How much is your salary? Many people cannot answer the question because they don’t even know. After all, what they received is not what is on their offer/pay slip, or the amount is laughable. Some people don’t answer the question because of what people might expect from them. I remember one of my colleagues. He told me that when the salary scale of academic staff was circulating on social media, it became a blessing for him because his family and extended family saw his salary as a Professor and decided to reduce the responsibilities placed on him.
Although in Nigeria, what you study is not entirely relevant to where you work, having a guidance and counselling advisor or a mentor is still advisable. Find someone you want to be like in the future and ask him to mentor you. Learn from their strengths and weaknesses and be a better version of yourself. Lastly, choose a career path that will make you happy, whether it is about the monetary aspect or otherwise.
Hamza Sulayman is a postdoctoral research fellow at Zhejiang University, China. He can be reached via email@example.com.