Can you recommend trusted sites for salary information?

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Tammie from the University of Texas  – Dallas asked:

Can you recommend some trusted sites for salary information for a senior gearing up for the job search?

Hi Tammie –

I sure can, but first I want to share three guiding tips.

#1 – Don’t depend solely on one source for salary data

Cross-check your data across sources.  Don’t stop after the first one; particularly if it tells you what you want to hear.  Compare salary information from multiple sources, consult with your college career adviser, and then get some first hand information from people who work in the field you wish to enter through information gathering interviews.

#2 – Don’t assume your college major dictates how much should earn

Unless you are in a major that directly tracks into a specific career field (e.g., accounting, speech-language pathology, nursing, etc.) your college major will not determine how much you can expect to earn coming out of college.  How much do entry-level accounting grads typically make? is a valid question.  How much do entry-level French majors make? is not a valid question.   And this leads into my third tip:

3#- It’s not about how much you want to make, it’s about what the market will bear

Market demand determines salaries; and market demand and salaries vary by size of company (large, mid-sized or small), industry sector (public sector vs. private sector; for-profit vs. not-for-profit), industry (petroleum, healthcare, education, social services, manufacturing, media & communication, consumer goods, etc.) and functional area (sales, human resources, customer service, marketing, R&D, engineering, etc.).

Jobs are a commodity, and the laws of supply and demand will determine your level of compensation.

Software developers earn a very good living because they are highly skilled, there is a great need in the market for their skills, and there are more jobs than their are qualified candidates.  In this case, demand outweighs supply.

Musicians and other artists, though also highly skilled, tend to struggle financially, because there are a lot more musicians and other artists than there are opportunities for musicians and other artists.  In this case, supply outweighs demand.

It’s basic economics. (And, yes – I know I used extremes as examples, but the fundamental principle holds true – it’s not about what you want to make, it about what the market will bear!)

Some good resources for salary information

Ask your Career Center for your school’s employment reports on recent graduates.  These reports should include salary data specific to your college or university.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Salary Calculator and September 2012 Salary Survey

The US Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop Salary Info – online salary information salary information

You should also check out industry specific resources if they are available, such as the  Talent Zoo Salary Monitor

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