By Dr. Maria G. Hernandez
Latina Cubicle Confidential™
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a third of Latinas in the workforce are in the service sector and another third are in sales or office jobs. On average, a cashier earns $9.52 per hour, and if they are lucky to work a full 40 hours a week, that totals $19,841 per year.
Unfortunately, 94% of retail workers are provided about 30 hours of work per week making the annual income just $14,851. Unfortunately this can make a family of two live below the federal poverty level of $15,130. The other big challenge for retail workers — shift changes in their schedule can be fairly erratic and in some cases those changes make it impossible to hold down a second job or plan for childcare.
Many young Latinas take a retail job while in school to pay for a car or support their families. But what if that job you thought would just be a temporary job has become your one source of income?
First, not all retailers are alike. Do your homework and look at the track record that a retailer has in fair labor practices and overall corporate philosophy. High marks have been frequently given to Costco, Sam’s Club, Trader Joes, and The Container Store for their strong labor practices and better pay.
These employers are likely to cross-train employees so that they learn how to do different jobs depending on customer demands and thus give their workers more hours and more opportunity to grow their skills. Keep looking for openings in those work places where you would be able to have more stable income.
Next, don’t get too comfy in your retail job that you stop developing options for your work-life. The biggest difference in career paths is made with more education. With so many accredited on-line classes, you no longer have to leave your home to go to school if you have access to a laptop and internet connection.
Take time to look at getting more education in fields that can make your earnings higher. Two-year degree programs that allow you to work in the healthcare industry where some enormous changes will lead to new kinds of career opportunities are a good bet.
Two-year degree program in technology support positions are also worth exploring, too.
Another way to expand your opportunities is to look at self-employment. If you have strong computer and telephone skills —you may want to consider becoming a virtual assistant or handle social media for others. Check out sites like www.TaskRabbit.com and www.ChaCha.com as examples of places where you can plug-in to offer your services on your own schedule.
It is easy to get stuck in a job that you meant to take for just a few years. Take a moment to think about what your cost of living expenses truly require and review your financial goals often. Sometimes “just getting by” with the bare minimum is all you can do but don’t let your job let you stop thinking about all the opportunities in your life. A job cannot be confused with a career and it’s never too late to start creating opportunities for yourself and your family.
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. For more information, visit Latina Cubicle Confidential™ on Facebook or on Twitter @SavvyLatinaInfo.