How to Make Money

6 Companies Where You Can Work Your Way Up To a Six-Figure Job

June 12, 2016
by Sarah Kuta
Contributor

Many employees stay at their companies less than five years before hopping over to a new job somewhere else. In 2014, the median job tenure was 4.6 years, reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But there’s still some truth to that advice your parents gave you growing up: Work hard, put in the time and your company will reward you.

Here are six companies where you can start at the bottom and wind up making six figures. They’re known for promoting from within, providing training and development opportunities for their employees and helping their most dedicated workers rise through the ranks.

1. Whole Foods

Photo Source: Whole Foods
Photo Source: Whole Foods

The natural foods grocery store has made it onto Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year since the list began in 1998, in large part due to the company culture.

The company says there are “countless” stories of people who started off bagging groceries and stocking shelves and who are now in leadership positions. Store managers can make more than $100,000.

“We believe that (employees’) happiness and health is essential, which is why we invest in their personal and professional growth,” said Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb on the company’s website.

“We encourage team members to seek out opportunities that fulfill their deeper purpose and celebrate individual creativity and potential.”

2. Chipotle

Photo Source: Facebook.com/Chipotle
Photo Source: Facebook.com/Chipotle

Start as an entry-level crew member at fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle and you’ll make $28,000 per year.

But stick around long enough and go through the company’s restaurateur program, and you’ll make $125,000 a year, plus get some pretty sweet benefits like a company car, tuition reimbursement and stock privileges.

Plus, each time a restaurateur trains another crew member to become a general manager, they get $10,000.

That’s because co-CEO Monty Moran found the best performing Chipotle locations had a manager who worked his or her way up through the ranks from the very bottom.

Moran hoped to keep quality employees at the restaurant level, so they would focus on making individual stores great and train the people around them.

“The foundation of our people culture, on which everything else stands, is the concept that each person at Chipotle will be rewarded based on their ability to make the people around them better,” Moran told Quartz.

3. Costco

Photo Source: Min-Jung Kim under Creative Commons
Photo Source: Min-Jung Kim under Creative Commons

Costco is well known for its “promote from within” company culture. The average Costco manager started out pushing shopping carts in the parking lot when they were 19 or 20 years old, according to Jim Sinegal, Costco’s co-founder.

Costco warehouse managers earn between $122,204 and $147,411, according to Glassdoor, which asks current and former employees to share salary information anonymously.

“We would never dream of hiring a manager for one of our Costcos from outside the company,” Sinegal said in an interview with The Motley Fool, a long-term investing website. “It has to be somebody who has worked their way up in our system.”

Plus, the company is super keen on work-life balance and allowing employees to pursue their education while they’re working.

Maybe you don’t want to manage a Costco, but you want to become a pharmacist. The company will keep you on while you go to school, then promote you to pharmacy manager, Sinegal said.

4. Trader Joe’s

Photo Source: Phillip Pessar under Creative Commons
Photo Source: Phillip Pessar under Creative Commons

Three-quarters of store leaders, called Mates, started at the bottom of the food chain (no pun intended), according to the grocery store’s website.

A step above Mates are Captains, or Trader Joe’s store managers, who are promoted exclusively from within.

“Promotions are performance based, which means your passion and dedication determines your growth,” according to the Trader Joe’s website.

The average store manager at Trader Joe’s makes between $92,000 and $108,000, according to Glassdoor.

The company also contributes 15.4% of employees’ gross income to tax-deferred retirement accounts.

5. Procter & Gamble

Photo Source: Procter & Gamble
Photo Source: Facebook.com/ProcterGamble

Procter & Gamble, the manufacturer of a wide array of household and personal care products, is renowned for its internal hiring practices.

The company, which was founded in 1837, is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, but has locations all over the world and hundreds of careers ranging from engineering to information technology to branding to market analysis.

“Most of our people start at an entry level and then progress and prosper throughout the organization,” according to the P&G website. “This drives a culture of coaching, challenging and shaping our people into P&G leaders of today and tomorrow.”

If you make it to the director level, you can make over $200,000, according to Glassdoor.

The company says it hires the person, not the position, which means you can move around to various roles depending on your interests and talents.

P&G also says it tries to build leaders in every facet of the business and in every region of the country by giving them early, meaningful responsibilities.

6. Startups

Photo Source: Eric Bailey under Creative Commons
Photo Source: Eric Bailey under Creative Commons

Though they’re a bit risky — something like 90% of them fail — if you get in with a successful startup at the beginning, you can wind up making a pretty awesome salary if the company takes off.

Think about it: If you’re one of the first people working 10-12 hour days with the company’s founder in his or her garage, you’ll likely be rewarded handsomely if business starts booming or if another company acquires the business.

Plus, you’ll get intense hands-on experience, likely from nearly every facet of the business. Should you ever decide to leave the startup, that’ll make you more marketable in the corporate world and could land you a bigger paycheck.

An example: When ad tech company MoPub was acquired by Twitter in 2013, 36 of its 100 employees became millionaires.

Your Turn: Have you worked your way up from an entry-level role in your company?

Sarah Kuta is an education reporter in Boulder, Colorado, with a penchant for weekend thrifting, furniture refurbishment and good deals. Find her on Twitter: @sarahkuta.

by Sarah Kuta
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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