SALARY RESEARCH: What you Need to Know Before Starting a New Career

It is a good idea to spend some time researching what kind of salary you can anticipate when pursuing a new position or entering a new career field. Additionally, one of the most common interview questions is “what are your salary expectations?”  Prior to a job search and definitely before an interview, it is important to explore resources to understand the market rate for your target career. Here are some resources to get you started:

Government Salary Research Resources

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: This government agency compiles numerous data to help economists, businesses, and other professionals understand the labor market.  Click on Subjects at the top of this site to see a list of resources where you can find salary data based on occupation, location, and more.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook: This is another government website maintained by the US Department of Labor and revised every two years.  Search for a specific occupation to see national salary data for that occupation.
  • O*NET: Another site administered by the US Department of Labor, O*NET provides career information for over 900 occupations including the ability to search for median salary information both nationally and by state.
  • Career One Stop: Yet another site administered by the US Department of Labor, Career One Stop features salary information for nearly 900 occupations.  From this site, you can find national, state, and local salary by clicking on the Wages by Occupation and Local Area link.

The Government resources give you a good idea of the market rate for a particular career field in a specific geographic location; however, these other resources may provide a more comprehensive perspective for what salary you can anticipate:

Job Board Salary Resources

  • Salary.com: Allows you to compare salary for up to three different job titles in a specific geographic area.  Report of additional salary data is available for purchase.
  • Indeed’s Salary Search: Compiles salary information for a specific job title in a specific location for all jobs that have been posted on Indeed’s website over the past 12 months.
  • Glassdoor: This site uses crowd-sourced information to provide salary and other company information for specific companies and job titles based on feedback from current or past employees of that organization.

Successful research is based on preparation and patience. Spend as much time as you can learning what the typical salaries are for the job or industry you are pursuing so that you know the salary range for the position and avoid accepting whatever offer you receive. Click here to check out additional resources on CareerQuest available to UMUC students and alumni from the Office of Career Services.

Rhoda Smackum is an associate certified career coach and global career development facilitator. Her areas of expertise include career coaching, career transition, career exploration, working with special populations, job search strategizing, and supervision. Before joining UMUC, she was a manager in the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program sponsored by the Department of Defense. Her focus was supervising career advisors and counselors providing telephonic education and career services and resources for spouses of active-duty military service members worldwide. She also previously worked with students at Prince George’s Community College. Smackum earned a Bachelor of General Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and Master of Arts at Bowie State University.