How to Figure Out How Much Money You Should Be MakingJune 28, 2019
Updated May 31, 2022
In a career search,” How much should I be making?” is a common concern. It is not something that is taught in a classroom and is a topic employers may avoid. In social settings, it can be seen as an inappropriate subject and should not be discussed. If no one is talking about salary, where do you begin? Strong research before you negotiate your salary is a good start; if not prepared, you can’t ensure you’ll be able to defend your salary expectations properly. The Internet has several options for how to search for a salary comparison, but there are a few steps you should take prior.
Know Your Personal Market Value
First, begin by assessing your market value. Your market value is an estimation of how much you should be earning. Be sure that you take a look at the education level, job title, total experience in the field, skills, and location. Within your self-worth search, it is important to factor in the salary your lifestyle needs. Consider the lowest salary you can live on and go from there. Remember to also include benefits you may need such as health insurance or a student loan assistance program. All of this will help when you begin to research job comparisons and opportunities.
Do Your Research on Typical Salaries
After taking a look at your personal values and needs, take your search to the Internet. There are several websites that can calculate salary, so finding one that fits what you are looking for is important. Here are a few helpful websites and what they offer.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has an online database that includes the national wage averages for over 800 occupations. These averages are estimates of data collected from employers in all industry sectors. While this is a useful tool, one caveat is that it tends to be less precise than other tools available.
Website: Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Salary Project ™
The Salary ProjectTM is a helpful online tool that gives you access to thousands of real salaries. You can anonymously submit your salary data by completing a short survey. Once the survey is complete, they will send you a full report that shows your salary comparison to similar ones. Upon completing a final anonymous survey, you can access the entire salaries database.
Website: The Salary Project™
Educate to Career ®
This is a more student-focused tool and uses career centers around the United States to generate salaries for the career you are searching for. This is a good starter tool that will ease you into the salary search and is a good place to begin. The information needed to use the tool includes your job title, the field of interest, experience, and location you provide, and uses education levels to predict your salary.
Website: Educate to Career ®
Glassdoor ® Know Your Worth Tool
Most people know Glassdoor® as a site that posts jobs and helps connect companies to potential employees, but they offer additional tools too. The Know Your Worth Salary calculator is available through Glassdoor®. This calculator uses marketing trends to give you an idea of what you should be earning. The requested information is your job title, education, skills, and location preferences, and then it will estimate your possible income. This particular calculator is unique because it will indicate what your salary could be in another region or with an additional degree. Glassdoor® will also show job opportunities available in your preferred field and location. It’s important to note that this tool does not include benefits in the estimated salary.
Website: Glassdoor ® Know Your Worth Tool
Payscale ® Salary Calculator
The salary calculator tool by Payscale® will compare employees in the same industry you are searching for to your current total pay (If you are already in the field of interest). If not already in the field, there is an exploring option. The needed information for this tool is your job title, education, skills, experience, and location. The Payscale® tool includes bonuses, overtime pay, and benefits. In addition, it gives in-depth results and can help you find what you could be making in another company or field.
Website: Payscale ® Salary Calculator
Indeed Salary Tool
Indeed’s salary tool provides helpful information on general salary numbers. You can browse by industry, company, or career and can see average salaries, various compensation options, cities that are best for certain job roles, and more. This tool is best for those wanting a general overview of compensation for a specific role or city.
Website: Indeed Salary Tool
LinkedIn ® Salary
LinkedIn® is a social media channel for professionals looking to network. It connects professionals to possible employers. Linkedin® Salary takes this a step further in using the networking application to estimate potential compensation. They give information on the highest paying businesses, regions, and job titles. A bonus is that LinkedIn® Salary includes a current view of the career industry you provided and how salaries in these industries may be impacted in the future.
Using a wide variety of sources can help compare the salaries in your field. By taking advantage of these tools, you can get the most accurate estimate for what you should be offered by an employer.
Website: LinkedIn ® Salary
Salary.com Salary Wizard
The Salary Wizard tool allows you to search for a job title and compare information included in their database to your current or potential salary. You can use this tool to search for information based on your job title alone or include your role and location, automatically providing you with a salary breakdown. A plus of the Salary Wizard tool is that it also includes benefit comparisons, average time off, bonus amounts, and a cost-of-living calculator, all helpful in negotiating your salary.
Website: Salary.com Salary Wizard
Salary Expert uses the Economic Research Insitute to pull compensation and career data on over 1,100 industries and 11,900 jobs. The simplicity of their online tools allows you to search just based on job title alone. By entering your job title and location, you can see a gross salary for your role allowing for a quick comparison of the salaries in your location or future location.
Website: Salary Expert
Robert Half’s Salary Guide
Robert Half uses employer and employee surveys from companies across the country to create national salary outlooks that show hiring trends. By entering your email address, job position, and location, they can generate a report specific to your role. The report includes a salary number, the average national salary number, and location comparisons based on the city you live in or are moving to. A bonus of Robert Half is that they will also show current demands for people in this role based on skills. This tool is great for those wanting details of the current job trends and those curious about the skill sets in demand now or in the future.
Website: Robert Half’s Salary Guide
Talk to Your Coworkers and Professional Network
For more specific information about your situation, talk to your coworkers and others in your professional network about their roles. While it may be awkward, it could give you a more realistic sense of what you could be paid. Some states have passed laws that prohibit penalizing workers for discussing pay. It’s important to ask different kinds of people to get answers that aren’t influenced by discrimination or bias.
Talk to Your Manager
Once you’ve researched a salary range, you can use that information to present it to your boss or future hiring manager. Approaching this as less of a confrontation and more collaborative conversation about compensation can lead to better results. Consider asking your boss or hiring manager how the compensation was determined to open up a discussion for a salary increase or promotion.
Make Sure You’re Being Realistic
Taking the company’s situation into consideration is important before opening up this discussion. Things such as budget freezes can prevent a company from being able to allow pay raises. If this is the case, it might be more beneficial to negotiate for more benefits or a different job title.
Once completing your salary research, look at all of your options. Compare salaries from different industries and understand what would best fit your lifestyle. Find a career that has the right location, job security and can support you. Remember that if the salary is not what your research indicated, there is always room for negotiation.
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