Author Topic: Salary information?  (Read 1672 times)

better late

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Salary information?
« on: July 31, 2020, 04:42:22 PM »
How do you go about learning how much you could be paid for a particular job?  Good places to look on the internet? Other?  What have you learned over the years? What would you tell a young person just starting out in a career about compensation?

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2020, 07:56:13 AM »
What field are you interested in?  Are you still in school or a recent graduate?  I've never used it, but there are sites online like Glassdoor that do (or at least used to) provide salary information for different fields.  If you have access to an alumni network if you're in or graduating from college you might ask there.  For public sector jobs the pay scales are generally posted online and often actual people's salaries are posted.  If you provide more information on what you're looking for we might be able to help more.  Ideally if you provide any degrees you have or are considering, location if that matters to you, and what general field (engineering? nursing? teaching?) that would help. 

You could also look at this thread:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/what's-your-job-title-and-how-much-do-you-earn/


Zamboni

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2020, 08:18:53 AM »
I've been surprised how much I can learn by just asking people.

You don't have to ask "how much do you make"? Surprisingly, a lot of people will share information, especially if it's more indirect like "do you get a bonus?"

It's better to ask people "how much do you think they will offer the next guy they hire at XXX position". Most people will take a stab at the market rate in their field. They might not be right, especially if the haven't changed jobs or hired someone in awhile, but if you ask a bunch of people, you'll get a pretty good idea where things stand. I know it seems sexist (because it is), but always ask about guys!

Malcat

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2020, 08:23:08 AM »
Oh wow...that's a big question.

I work in an industry where this is the biggest question and no one actually has an answer, which really frustrates people. The average comp numbers are utterly meaningless in my industry because the range is so huge, and the factors that influence that range are hard to understand unless you're already in it.

I don't think looking for average compensation for certain roles matters nearly as much as figuring out *why* compensation is at that level and what the challenges are to getting the higher compensation ranges.

For example, I was researching what clinical counsellors in my area make. The average means absolutely nothing because there is a population making around $20/hr and a population making well over $100/hr. The average would have you thinking that they typically make 70-80K, but that's not at all accurate.

What's critical is understanding what skills are needed for the $100+/hr and seeing if you have them/want them. There's a reason so many are down around $20/hr, and it's because the skills that make them want to be counsellors are generally not correlated with the skills that make someone a sharp and aggressive business person.

It's the same way that even great artists tend to not be financially successful, because most of them are absolutely atrocious sales people who hate self promotion.

Then there's also the barrier to entry to look at. If it's relatively easy to have the skills for a high paying job, then be prepared for the competition to be ferocious and your employer's expectations to be insane. If you are in a high compensation role and easily replaceable, then you're only as valuable as your willingness to do what it takes not to be replaced by someone just as capable and potentially more willing to do what it takes.

I personally hate those roles. I would much rather work on my skill set to make myself uniquely qualified, maybe even a bit over qualified, for a role so that I can get good compensation and have my employer constantly feel like they need to keep me happy to keep me working there.

So, for some industries, if the average comp is low, but there's a high range that takes specific skill to get to, but most people aren't willing to gain that skill and you are, that may be a much better move than gravitating towards an industry where average comp is good but because of that, people flock to it like moths to a flame (law, engineering, etc).

These are just small examples off the top of my head, but it's to illustrate that there's a lot more to financial success than aggregate numbers. And beware of high average salary jobs because everyone and their cousin will be aiming for those same jobs.

The best thing to do is to talk to people in different industries. Don't just find out what they make, find out what it took for them to get to that level and what holds them back from making more.

DH and I both make substantially less than others with our same skill sets, but if you were to talk to us about why, you would see that trade offs it takes to jump those next rungs on the ladder are very, very unappealing to us. We're both constantly avoiding higher comp positions, and you want to really understand why someone would do that, and see if those trade offs appeal to you.

If you don't have people in your life to ask these questions to, then hop online. A lot of professions have online communities where people very openly discuss what their industry is like. Or, even just ask questions here. Over the years there have been plenty of threads asking things like "what is your job/how much do you make/what do you like about your job/etc/etc".

When I was first trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I spent literally thousands and thousands of hours gathering information, and that habit has never stopped, which is good because I recently left my career and am now, again, starting from scratch trying to figure out what work and what comp is worth pursuing.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2020, 08:27:50 AM by Malcat »

terran

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2020, 01:18:58 PM »
Another option if you're in a field that sometimes works for the government is that it's often pretty easy to find public salary information. I would expect this to be more accurate in fields that wouldn't be paid significantly less in government (like higher ed or medicine) than ones that would (law, engineering, tech).

Janie

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2020, 04:10:52 PM »
BLS Occupational Outlook https://www.bls.gov/ooh/

ChickenStash

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2020, 08:18:37 AM »
I've never had good luck trying to get a useful salary number from Glassdoor or the like. Perhaps it's just my field, but there's just too many job-specific details that muddy the waters. For example, in my field, someone with my title working at a small company could reasonably be making half that of someone working at a larger organization - the small v. large footprint requires a different skillset even for the same job role.

The only reasonably accurate info I've gotten has been from asking friends in management in my field and from interviewing at other companies to see what their offer ranges are.

socaso

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2020, 10:26:20 AM »
There's a feature called Money Diaries on Refinery 29. People track their spending for a week and they always list their job title and salary and usually give information about bonuses and such. There's another feature on the same site where people track their salaries throughout their careers and talk about how they got to the level they are currently at. I can't recall the name of that one. It might be worth it to sift through those and see if anyone who is profiled is in the industry you are interested in.

MissPeach

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2020, 04:24:00 PM »
I would check out websites like Glassdoor. LinkedIn is also starting to gather salary information.

better late

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2020, 06:58:23 PM »
Thank you for the sites and suggestions.  I will share them with my young adult.

I have a follow up question about the hiring climateŚ now in the literal middle of a pandemic and economy on its knees  would you counsel a young person with plenty of smarts but not a lot of experience that they should likely pursue tenaciously and then jump at a good job offer if they get one?

STEMorbust

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2020, 11:04:29 PM »
For a young person picking a path? Show them levels.fyi to get a sense of tech salaries.


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Malcat

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2020, 04:14:53 AM »
Thank you for the sites and suggestions.  I will share them with my young adult.

I have a follow up question about the hiring climateŚ now in the literal middle of a pandemic and economy on its knees  would you counsel a young person with plenty of smarts but not a lot of experience that they should likely pursue tenaciously and then jump at a good job offer if they get one?

This really comes down to the specific job market. I'm helping a company staff a few positions right now, and there's a major labour shortage in that industry.

That's another factor to look at, recession resistance of certain industries. Covid is medium term temporary, but the economic impact could be long. There are tons of industries that thrive during recessions.


obstinate

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2020, 06:47:27 AM »
Knowing how much you could be paid is not all that important I would say. There are realtors that make millions a year, and software engineers that make just 20k a year. But the typical member of those professions make less and more respectively.

If you're looking to maximize your compensation, the best way is to apply to more jobs. Especially with companies that bring in a lot of profit per employee and who depend on the role you're applying for to do so.

If you're trying to figure out what to major in to make a lot of money, then it's hard to say. What's lucrative now might not be lucrative by when you graduate. I would say software engineering is almost certainly highest expected value times lowest effort. Which is not to say it's easy, it's just the other high confidence options are absurdly difficult (become a surgeon, things like that).

Malcat

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2020, 07:38:57 AM »
Knowing how much you could be paid is not all that important I would say. There are realtors that make millions a year, and software engineers that make just 20k a year. But the typical member of those professions make less and more respectively.

If you're looking to maximize your compensation, the best way is to apply to more jobs. Especially with companies that bring in a lot of profit per employee and who depend on the role you're applying for to do so.

If you're trying to figure out what to major in to make a lot of money, then it's hard to say. What's lucrative now might not be lucrative by when you graduate. I would say software engineering is almost certainly highest expected value times lowest effort. Which is not to say it's easy, it's just the other high confidence options are absurdly difficult (become a surgeon, things like that).

I would say that knowing how much you could be paid is actually really important, as is understanding why most people in a given profession *don't* make that much.

I personally found this kind of information so incredibly informative about various careers.

Sometimes you are better off knowing what your skills are and then targeting a field where those skills are rare and correlate with higher success and higher demand, rather than targeting a career where ALL of your competition have the same strength.

Being someone who can write extremely well and quickly won't likely get you far as a writer, but may lead to incredibly easy success in a technical field.

A friend with a gender studies degree and absolutely no engineering or science background has worked her way to a fairly high level writing about the energy sector. After years, she's become far less replaceable than the subject matter experts she works with, and she's very actively recruited.

I'm a medical professional, and BY FAR the most lucrative work I can do is working on the business side of the medical world, not the clinical side. So few medical professionals have business acumen, so the opportunities for me are HUGE, and so much easier to find than good clinical jobs, where the competition is fierce.

Since I medically retired from clinical work 5 months ago, without even trying, I've been outright aggressively pursued to work for multiple companies. Meanwhile, the new grads I coach are one of 200 applicants for part time clinical jobs that include evenings and weekends and shit pay.

That's just a few examples, but they show both how primary skills don't have to lead to skill-specific industries, and if you stop thinking about career skills that way, then school major also doesn't matter as much either.

In my personal experience, and that of the coaching I've done, and my previous experience in staffing. I've often found that people who do a step 1, 2, then 3 version of career planning tend to be walking face first into a lot more uphill challenge than they may need to.

Everyone and their parents are doing the same Google searches and angling for the same "high paying jobs", which is a slog. It doesn't take a ton of creativity to approach it in a less sloggy kind of way, but that info isn't found in aggregate data on the internet.

ender

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2020, 08:19:13 AM »
I would check out websites like Glassdoor. LinkedIn is also starting to gather salary information.

Glassdoor is actually a surprisingly good ballpark.

I wouldn't use it for specific information but for all the roles I've had, glassdoor has been reasonably close.

Depending on what the OP needs this info for it might be good enough.

Thank you for the sites and suggestions.  I will share them with my young adult.

I have a follow up question about the hiring climateŚ now in the literal middle of a pandemic and economy on its knees  would you counsel a young person with plenty of smarts but not a lot of experience that they should likely pursue tenaciously and then jump at a good job offer if they get one?

What do they want to do? What defines "good job offer?"

Good means very many different things. It might mean high pay. It might mean good benefits. It might mean at a well respected company, even if the work environment is crap. It might mean a great work environment at an unseen company.

obstinate

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2020, 03:01:27 PM »
Everyone and their parents are doing the same Google searches and angling for the same "high paying jobs", which is a slog. It doesn't take a ton of creativity to approach it in a less sloggy kind of way, but that info isn't found in aggregate data on the internet.
That's true. The other thing about the creative approach is that it's not necessarily reproducible. That's what I was referring to when I said high confidence.

Malcat

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Re: Salary information?
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2020, 03:20:51 PM »
Everyone and their parents are doing the same Google searches and angling for the same "high paying jobs", which is a slog. It doesn't take a ton of creativity to approach it in a less sloggy kind of way, but that info isn't found in aggregate data on the internet.
That's true. The other thing about the creative approach is that it's not necessarily reproducible. That's what I was referring to when I said high confidence.

No, but no career really is either.

You mention surgeons, a population I happen to have a lot of expertise on, and their careers aren't reproducible. Sure, a substantially above average income is predictable, but beyond that, it's a hugely variable world.

I know some that are chill as hell and loving life while making great incomes, and I know others who are up to their eyeballs in student debt, struggling to find enough full time work, and increasingly concerned about how much they're drinking to cope with the overwhelming stress.

The skills to succeed are teachable and universal:
-Figure out your own strengths, but FAR more importantly figure out your own weaknesses and intolerances.
-Learn how to research how job markets work
-Learn how to network
-Learn how intimately the corporate and non profit worlds are connected and create A LOT of back doors
-Learn which industries professions are dependent on and which are dependent on them
-Learn even more about networking

People don't typically end up on non-traditional paths because they set out to do so. The women's study major I mentioned never intended to write about pipelines. It's the people who somehow learn the best practices I mentioned above who manage to maneuver their way through the drudging systems and find the opportunities hidden within.

However, it's also a best practices approach to staying in your own lane as well. The surgeons who are great networkers and who really understand their own job markets and adjacent industries tend to be happier and more successful.

It's really nothing mysterious or any more unpredictable, and it's usually highly generalizable stuff.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2020, 03:24:40 PM by Malcat »