How do I Find the Salary Range for a Position?

Carol Francois

The salary range for a job is one of the most important pieces of information when choosing a career or looking for a new position. There are three reliable sources for this information: government agencies, compensation firms, and professional associations. All three sources provide accurate, timely information, complete with the skill sets required for salaries within a specific range.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a list of educational and licensing requirements for differing job titles.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a list of educational and licensing requirements for differing job titles.

The first place to start looking for the salary range of a job in the United States is the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This government agency is responsible for collecting accurate information on a wide range of employment and labor related issues. In addition to basic salary range by job title, the bureau also provides a list of educational and licensing requirements, overall demand by state and major city and annual comparisons.

The definition of salary may include subsidized childcare.
The definition of salary may include subsidized childcare.

Other great government sources include occupational employment statistics. This regional information is available upon request for a specific job or job stream. Check with your state employment agency for access to government reports and surveys on employment trends and salary ranges within your state. It is important to recognize that salary differs by location and it is always a good idea to look at neighboring cities and states for find the salary range for a job.

Compensation analysis and reporting firms specialize in determining the appropriate classifications and the salary ranges for new and existing positions. They provide information to governments, large corporations, and industry associations. The definition of salary can include other benefits, such as training reimbursement programs, subsidized childcare, tuition waivers, and scholarships for your children.

Look for websites that specialize in compensation reports for more information on the local, state, and federal salary ranges for a wide range of jobs. The Economic Research Institute® is a nonprofit statistical agency that reviews job trends and statistics for a wide range of users, ranging from local government officials to the United Nations.

Learn more about the job itself by exploring career and occupational guides. These reports provide detailed information on what each job does education and training requirements, long-term career prospects, and salary ranges. All this information can be found in your local library.

Two other great sources of salary range information are professional associations and unions. Both these agencies have the resources and interest to locate and maintain this information. Take the time to investigate and contact their job seekers support resources for more information on how they collect this information.

The definition of salary may include scholarships for an individual's children.
The definition of salary may include scholarships for an individual's children.

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Discussion Comments


@EdRick - You don't say what field you're in, but teachers have a particularly easy time comparing salaries as they are always published (and usually available online, too). The only catch is that they are pretty much never negotiable!

Teachers in independent schools, though, can often negotiate their salaries. These schools may have published scales but are more open to changes based on subtle factors like a specialty's scarcity. They are not likely to pay as much as public schools, but again, using the public school scale can be a good negotiating tool.


The article has some good suggestions--the BLS in particular is a gold mine of information--and I want to add another. For some jobs, salary range can be estimated by looking at advertised positions. While the majority of advertised positions do not include pay, some do. Big companies and universities are particularly likely to have set salary scales.

Smaller companies may not pay as much, but knowing what you would make elsewhere can be a great negotiating point. (And companies or nonprofits that don't pay as much might be willing to negotiate other perks, such as a flexible schedule or more vacation time. One ad I saw even promised your birthday off!)

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