Your paycheck may be enough, but how do you know if you’re getting paid fairly? How do you know if yours is a good salary? How do you know how much to ask for?
For women, fair pay continues to be an uphill battle: “Women still make only $0.79 for every dollar men make in 2019,” according to PayScale’s State of the Gender Pay Gap. And when you parse that data by race, the gender pay gap is even wider.
How old you are matters too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for women between the ages of 25 and 34 is $40,500, women 35 to 44 earn just over $47,000, and those between the ages of 45 and 54 make slightly less at $46,700. This decline continues with age. So, your best earning years are between 35 and 44.
It used to be really difficult to find out how much a job pays—and it’s still a taboo subject among colleagues at most workplaces. Career consultant Liz Ryan says recruiters have also long been guilty of not being forthcoming about salaries. However, this is changing. The demand for pay transparency is growing. This is, after all, the ultimate way to know if you’re being paid fairly.
When you’re researching salaries, remember to consider value beyond the number on your paycheck. Bonuses, employer-paid health insurance benefits, and retirement contributions can add up, as can paid vacation and separate sabbaticals or extras like parking, a transportation allowance, and tuition reimbursement packages.
Where you live, how much experience and education you have, as well as the type of company you work for (i.e., private sector, government, non-profit, etc.) will all influence how much you make and what makes a good salary for your job.
Resources to determine a good salary for your job
There are many online resources that help you determine the market rate salary for your position.
Introduced in 2016, this tool shows a breakdown of salaries by job title, location, company size, and industry. The information is based on data submitted privately by LinkedIn members. In order to use LinkedIn Salary, you have to submit your own anonymous job information (title, company, location, salary, years of experience).
The salary information at Salary.com is based on HR-reported aggregate market data. The site offers pay ranges on over 4,000 job titles across industries. When you select the job title you’re interested in, you can see how your education level, years of experience and other factors will affect your salary. They also have benefits and cost of living calculators.
PayScale claims to be the largest on-demand salaries database in the world. To get an estimate, fill in the salary survey. You can do this for your current job, to evaluate a job offer, or just for research. Be prepared to spend several minutes completing the questionnaire. It’s as many as eight pages long, but the more detail you give the more accurate the salary report will be.
Indeed’s salary search tool shows popular job titles, so you can immediately see that the national hourly average an English teacher, for example, is paid is just over $19. The range, however, is quite wide, from less than $10 to more than $31. This information is based on anonymously submitted salaries and those collected from job advertisements over the past 36 months.
A project of the Economic Research Institute, a compensation analytics publication that provides subscribers with assessments of salaries and executive compensation information, Salary Expert was launched nearly 20 years ago. Using ERI’s research, it provides job seekers with employer-provided salary data and cost-of-living information.
You can browse by job or worldwide location, and get at-a-glance information. For example, the average U.S. salary for an attorney is over $145,000, with median annual bonuses of nearly $10,000. At entry level, the salary is closer to $100,000, while a senior attorney with eight or more years experience earns an average of just over $181,000.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Occupational OutLook Handbook (OOH) at the Bureau of Labor Statistics is another useful resource. You can see annual median pay for thousands of jobs in all industries, plus information on employment projections and the level of education or training required.
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