Online Resources for Salary Information

Submitted by Sandra Porter on Thu August 21, 2014.

Finding a job can be a challenge, especially when you’re entering a new career.   Once you’ve found a job or jobs to apply for, the question arises:  how much should you expect to be paid?  

A good first step is to “use your network.” Ask around:  Ask friends and colleagues, ask your professors and mentors.  But what if you’re just starting out and don’t have a broad network to rely on?  Or what if you’re just uncomfortable asking people about money?

You aren’t the only the one facing these challenges.  As a result, there are a number of online resources to help you find the information that you need.

Career Overviews: The “Occupational Outlook Handbook”

The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) published by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics is a good starting place when researching careers.   It includes descriptions of job responsibilities, educational and training requirements, current employment numbers and projections for the next ten years, and, of course, pay.  

Specifically, the OOH provides median salaries for each occupation, as well as earnings among the top and bottom 10% of the profession.  Occasionally, this is further broken down by employment in specific industries or economic sectors (such as research institutions versus private industry).  For example, biological technicians employed in research and development, colleges and universities, and hospitals can expect to make more than those employed in testing laboratories or the federal government.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

As seen in the example below, the OOH also provides an overview of the median wages one can expect in a particular career (i.e., biological technicians), compared to the median wages in the broader field (life, physical and social science occupations) and the average American salary of $34,750 per year.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

Salaries Vary by Region

Like living expenses, salaries tend to vary by region, with coastal and major metropolitan areas commanding higher premiums.  There are a number of online resources that provide job listings as well as salary information by region, city, or zip code (among other search criteria).

O*NET Online provides similar job description information as the OOH, as well as salary information that is searchable by state. Returning to the example of biological technicians, we can see that the low, median and high salary ranges are generally higher in Washington State (below, left) than in Oklahoma (below, right).  However, the median and high expected wages for biological technicians in both states are lower than the national averages.

 

 

Glassdoor.com is another job search site that is customizable by region, with “salaries posted anonymously by employees and employers.”  A general search by the job title "biological technician" returns job descriptions and salary ranges (below, left).  However, if no employees or employers in a region have posted salary information, your search won’t return any results (below, right).  Registration is required to perform more than one search, and users may be required to create their own salary information posting or company review to “get free unlimited access.”


 

Indeed.com, which describes itself as “the #1 job site worldwide,” compiles salary information from national or regional job postings, as seen in the example below.  This site also compiles salaries and postings for jobs with related titles, such as “biological science technician,” and notes how your region compares to salaries for similar positions nationwide. It is important to note that not all job postings include salary information, which is why a diversity of online resources is often most helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refine Your Search by Job Title

Job titles may vary by region, industry, or company.  For example, biological technicians may also be called “research technicians,” a “science technicians,” or “laboratory assistants,” among others. Whether you’re research salaries online, or looking for job postings, it is important to read the job descriptions and lists of duties to be sure that you’re getting the information that you’re looking for.

In the glassdoor.com example above, job seekers in the Seattle area may be surprised to find that there is no salary information available for “biological technicians.” Searching instead for information about “research technicians” returns a variety of results (below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salary.com also provides compensation information by regions, allowing users to customize their search by job title, city or postal code, education, years of experience, and other criteria.  Salary.com gathers information from their “team of Certified Compensation Professionals” who has “analyzed survey data collected from thousands of HR departments at companies of all sizes and industries.” However, searches for “biological technician,” “research technician,” or “science technician” returned too many results because there are so many job postings that include these descriptors. This site uses the term “laboratory assistant I” for entry level positions involving “research activities and other tasks as necessary in a laboratory environment.” By using the proper search terms, job seekers can then compare national (below, left) and regional (below, right) salaries, as well as current openings. 

 

 

Whether you’re new to job searching or an experienced veteran, determining fair compensation can be an on-going challenge.  Try to find as much reputable information as you can, and remember that your salary will likely increase as your experience and skills increase.

Now negotiating that salary is probably a topic for a future post….

 

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