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  • Time to Ask for a Raise? What the PayScale Index Says

    PayScale recently released the Q3 2011 PayScale Index. The PayScale Index tracks pay trends by location, industry and job category. A salary index that says how much pay has changed in the last year seems like a great source for figuring out if you should ask for a raise. But, how should you use it?

    The PayScale Index is part of what you need to ask for a salary increase, but not everything. In this post, we will discuss how to figure out whether you are due a raise.

    Before you can ask for a raise, you need to know what you are worth. Find out with a free PayScale salary report.

  • Is College a Good Investment?

    Together with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, PayScale on Monday released a report on the return on investment (ROI) in education at 554 bachelor's degree granting colleges and universities

    All together, the PayScale College ROI Report ranked 852 possibilities, evaluating public universities for both in-state and out of state tuition costs.

    Why evaluate college tuition as an investment? There is a clear analogy from the housing market.

    Conventional wisdom used to say that buying a house was always a great investment, offering returns of 10% or more a year. As many have painfully learned over the last few years, buying a house at the wrong price can be a bad investment, particularly if you borrowed too much to pay for it.

    Conventional wisdom also says that paying for tuition, room and board for a 4-year bachelor's degree, no matter what the cost, is a great investment, offering long term returns of $1,000,000 or more over going to work straight out of high school.

    The PayScale College ROI report shows that the return varies tremendously across schools. Netting a million dollar payday is far from a sure thing.

    In the next few blog posts, I'll cover the basics of our methodology, why we made the choices we did in calculating ROI, some guidance on how to use this to evaluate college choices and costs, and respond to some of the criticisms.

    Whether you went to college or not, are you earning what you are worth? Spend 5 minutes completing the PayScale online salary evaluation survey and know.

  • Salary Raises: Understanding Cost of Living vs. Merit Pay Increases

    I have been looking at pay raises lately, and one thing I have been struggling with is how HR managers talk about raises.

    For example, a recent question on an HR discussion board was whether companies should give cost of living adjustments (COLAs) or "merit" increases.

    In this post, I'll cover what HR means by COLAs and merit raises, and then discuss why this is not really the right way to talk about pay and raises.

    Are you due for a raise? Use PayScale's detailed salary calculator to figure out based on your unique skills and abilities what you are worth.

  • Comp. Time and Overtime: Only After 45 Hours of Work a Week?

    Things have been busy at PayScale - we have been adding new features to our flagship professional product, PayScale Insight, and our Research Center - so I haven’t had as much time to post on salary issues.

    I did respond to a reader’s question about overtime; others might be interested in the question and answer:

    I get paid a annual salary of $40,000. I am a maintenance person. I work on AC units and furnaces; I paint; I am a jack of all trades and a master of none. I work around 5 to 6 hrs overtime a week.

    My employer says I can't get comp time until 45 hrs a week have been met; is this legal? I only get 1 hr comp time over 45 hrs. Should I get 1 1/2, if it is legal to allow the comp time over 45 hours? This must mean I’m non-exempt right? If I confront them with this issue, can they say you are exempt and work me to no end? Help!

    These questions are about the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): what is a legal use of over-time, comp. time, etc.?

    In this post, I will answer these, and also take a quick look at what FLSA says about breaks and meal time.

    Wondering if you should be earning $40,000/year, like our "Jack" of all trades? Use the PayScale Salary Calculator to find out.

  • The question of "salaried, non-exempt" jobs came up again in my inbox (I have changed a few details to make the email not personally identifiable):

    My classification was Salary Non-Exempt, and I am being told that I will not receive time and one half pay for these hours, such as a Non-Exempt employee would have, but only "Half Time" due to the Salary Non-Exempt classification.

    Half Time is calculated by taking the weekly salary amount ($800.00) and dividing it by 40 hours in the work week; which equals $20.00 per hour. For any time worked over the 40 (example: 10 hours worked over 40 in a week for a total of 50 hours) and dividing it into the normal salary amount of $800.00, giving $16.00 per hour, then dividing the $16.00 by half resulting in $8.00 per hour for any hour worked over 40, or "Half Time" versus the traditional time and one half, in this example $30.00/hour for time and one half.

    Is this accurate? Legal? Do I have any recourse? I answered the phone and supervised no one, swept the floors and cleaned the toilets. Is Salary Non-Exempt even accurate and should I consider a separate complaint to correct it to Non-Exempt?

    When I first read this, I thought paying only $8/hour for overtime had to be illegal under federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations.

    However, I was wrong: the above pay is legal under federal law. In this post, as previously promised, I will address how salary, non-exempt, pay works.

    Wondering if you should be earning $20/hour for answering phones and cleaning toilets? Use the PayScale Salary Calculator to find out.

  • $51,000 per Year: Be an Accountant or Get a Masters?

    I got an interesting question in my email inbox:

    "My daughter may be graduating from [a college in Florida] with bachelor’s in accounting this spring. She qualifies for a program which allows her to earn the master's degree in accounting for an additional year.

    Currently, she has been offered a job with accounting consulting firm in northern VA with pay of $51,000 beginning next September. Her draft budget shows that, with all taxes taken out, she would actually be making about $35,000. Her dad says “not good enough for that area.” If she chooses the 5th year program to earn her Masters degree in accounting...wonder how much more she would make at entry level with that. Can you give me some insight?"

    This has all the elements of a career choice: cost of living in a new location, earning a higher degree vs. working, and what salary is reasonable for a location, job, experience level, and employer.

    Is $51,000/year a fair wage for your job? Find out with the PayScale Salary Calculator.

  • Are Ford Workers Really Paid $73 per Hour?

    The David Leonhardt article in today's New York Times on the pay of automotive workers for the Big 3 got me thinking about what hourly wages really mean. Are Ford workers really paid $73 per hour?

    I did a quick look in the PayScale compensation database. While I will get into details below, the quick answer is the assembly line workers in the US at Ford, Chrysler and GM earn about $27/hour in base pay, while US workers for Toyota earn about $25.

    This jibes with the graphic in the NYT article. Why do the companies quote $73/hour, when they are only paying about $27/hour?

    Understanding this huge difference explains why the Big 3 are going bankrupt, and Toyota is not. The $2/hour difference in base wage is not the Big 3's problem.

    The gap between $28 and $73 per hour comes from different definitions of both wage and hour, and the difference between what current workers earn vs. the promises made to former employees.

    Is your market value $73/hour, but your employer is only paying $28? Use the PayScale salary survey to find out.

  • Setting Pastor Salaries and Pastor Compensation

    The stereotype of the televangelist with six cars and seven houses has pretty much faded away. When it comes to setting pastor salaries these days, BaptistStandard.com reports that the national average pastor compensation is $77,096.

    This average comes from The Compensation Handbook for Church Staff an "industry" survey of compensation. This average is significantly higher than the PayScale median salary of $56,000 for Senior Pastors.

    As we will see, the difference is both in the definition of compensation and the scope of responsibility. It never is just about the job title :-)

    How does your salary compare to the average pastor compensation?  Find out with our salary calculator.

  • Legitimate Work at Home Jobs: Work at Home Internet Jobs

    We've all heard of outsourcing, but lately that trend is reversing somewhat, creating new legitimate work at home jobs in the U.S., according to an article on CSMonitor.com. These work at home internet jobs are called "home-based customer service agents." When they clock in for work, their phones ring at home; they make reservations, take customer orders, check on deliveries and answer questions.

    There are reportedly 110,000 work at home customer service jobs in the U.S., and 80% of these work at home internet jobs are staffed by women. IDC, a market research company in Framingham, Mass, told CSmonitor.com that these legitimate work at home jobs are "expected to triple to 328,000 by 2010."  So how do you find these legitimate work at home jobs?  Keep reading!

    How does your salary compare to legitimate work at home jobs?  Find out by taking PayScale's full salary survey.

  • Is a Person's Salary Considered Privacy Act Information?

    Is a person's salary considered privacy act information?  SignOnSanDiego.com reported that the California Supreme Court ruled in favor a newspaper seeking government job info and salary numbers of public employees. The ruling said that the city of Oakland must release the names, records of termination and salaries of police officers (who earned more than $100,000 in 2004).

    Police officer unions claimed that this information on salary and payment should remain confidential due to privacy. However, Chief Justice Ronald George stated: “Counterbalancing any cognizable interest that public employees may have in avoiding disclosure of their salaries is the strong public interest in knowing how the government spends its money." Should government job info and salary be made public?

    Are you being paid fairly? Check your salary, privately, with our PayScale Salary Calculator.

  • List of Future Jobs in Demand: 2006-2016

    "Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?" That is a hard-to-answer question in the ever-changing U.S. job market. What if you could look into a crystal ball, and see the fastest growing occupations ten years from now?

    While predictions about the future are hard, I recently came across a list of future jobs in demand by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (Note: the original list included jobs predicted to grow between 2006 and 2016, but it's been updated through 2022. Our post includes the previous data.)

    This list is the BLS's guess at how our world will change. Baby boomers will get older (personal and home care aides  #2), Generation X will invest for retirement (personal financial advisers  #6), Generations Y and "Millennials" will be in recovery (substance abuse counselors #10), while Generation Text will be even more high tech (computer software engineers #4).

    Which job tops this list of future jobs in demand?  Keep reading!

    However, before you jump to one of the new "hot" careers, make sure you are earning what you deserve today by using the PayScale Salary Calculator.

  • Movie Actor Salaries, Are They Worth It?

    With the Oscars around the corner, we will be hearing about movie actor salaries, which always seem to be in the tens of millions of dollars.

    Few of the best picture nominees are big box office winners. Fortunately for us, George Clooney has decided to go more for "backend" (cut of profits) rather than fixed fees for his movies. If not, his standard fee of more than $15 million would have doubled the cost of "Michael Clayton", and likely scuttled the project.

    Forbes.com reported on movie actor salaries, and calculated which stars actually deliver at the box office. Surprisingly, the best investment in movie actor salaries is Matt Damon. For every dollar The Bourne Ultimatum star is paid, Matt Damon's movies gross $29. Not bad, for a career that started with the minor role of Steamer, the goofy younger brother in "Mystic Pizza".

    Back in 2004, The Bourne Supremacy grossed $290 million worldwide, plus another $165 million in video rentals and sales. Damon's total take for that film was $26 million, so that was a good investment for Universal Studios, as was the sequel, The Bourne Ultimatum.

    What about female movie actor salaries? Jennifer Aniston's last three starring films have earned $17 to every dollar she was paid; The Break-Up grossed an estimated $270 million.

    How does your salary compare, if not to the stars, to other working stiffs like you? Find out with our salary calculator.

  • Software Developer Salaries: Ruby on Rails vs. Java

    "willCode4Beer", a software engineer and blogger in the San Francisco Bay Area, recently posted a comparison of "Ruby on Rails" and Java software developer salaries, using PayScale data.

    Noting that the average salary for developers in San Francisco is $17,000 higher for Java than Ruby on Rails, he concluded he should stick with Java, at least until the pay for Ruby on Rails catches up.

    However, big grains of salt are required when comparing these charts :-)

    In this post, after a brief background on programming languages and their fads, I'll look at why, even in the face of these charts, it is not so clear which language willCode4Beer should use.

    Wondering what your skills are worth? Find out with the PayScale salary calculator.

  • 10 More Good Jobs with No College Degree Required

    In today's economy where people are losing their jobs and needing to start over, a hot topic is top paying jobs for people with no college degrees.

    Topping that list is an employment recruitment specialist; someone who helps companies recruit job candidates. With a two-year degree (associates degree) in hand, the median salary for an employment recruitment specialist with 2-3 years of experience is $38,100.

    A career as a financial advisor comes in at number two on a Yahoo! list of 10 paying jobs with no college degree required. In this position, it helps to have an associate’s degree in finance as you usually work at a brokerage firm or a bank. Your job is helping clients make wise investments (hopefully). A personal financial advisor with less than year of experience earns a median base salary of $32,700, but commissions and bonuses can be a big factor in pay as well.

    How does your salary compare with two of Yahoo's 10 paying jobs with no college degree? Find out with our salary survey or use the our cost of living calculator to see how much you would need to make to maintain your current standard of living in a different city.

  • Oil and Gas Geologist Jobs: Striking It Rich

    With gas prices going through the roof over the past year, you might think the only ones doing well in the petro industry were oil company executives, but oil and gas geologist jobs are also bringing in strong annual salaries, according to a recent report by the Houston Chronicle. The oil biz has been struggling with the problem of older workers and a lack of younger recruits. Since supply is not meeting demand, many oil field jobs are paying more than in previous years.

    A recently released study by the University of Houston and the Boyden executive search firm stated that the median salary of a petroleum geologist (with 10 years experience) has increased 23 percent over the past three years, going from $107,500 (2004) to $132,132 (2006). But it's not just the oil and gas geologist jobs; oil drilling rig jobs have hit a gusher, increasing from $36,000 to $58,000 during the same three years. Some oil companies are even paying sign-on bonuses (up to $15,000) to entry-level geologists with master's degrees.

    Has your salary struck oil? Find out with our salary calculator.

  • My Job Duties Exceed My Pay; What Should I Do?

    A couple of readers asked the following questions:

    "[1] How do I get an accurate report on comparable salaries when my job duties far exceed my job title? I took a "part time" while finishing school which has transformed into much more than administrative assistant. [2] How do I know the true worth of the duties I perform?"

    The first question, since it is about market pricing an employee, is something we obsess about here at Payscale.com. The second goes beyond market data, and gets into the question of worth and what people should be paid.

    In this post, I will look at these questions. For those in a hurry, here is a hint at the answer to the first: complete the PayScale salary survey. :-)

  • Summer Seasonal Jobs: Students Getting a Summer Job?

    In the ancient days known as B.C. (before cable TV), summer for teens meant (1) getting out of school and (2) students getting a summer job, at least part-time. But these days, as the Christian Science Monitor recently reported, summer seasonal jobs are turning very competitive. The article says that "summer jobs for teenagers" market never recovered from the recession of 2001, and in 2007 there is more competition from older workers for entry-level employment for summer months.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics has tracked the youth labor market (16-19-year-olds) since 1948. The BOLS says that teen employment for summer months has traditionally been above 50 percent, but starting in 1998, the numbers began dropping. Professor Andrew Sum Andrew Sum, an economist and head of Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies, forecasted (in April) that only 36.5 percent of teens will have employment for summer months; down from 45.3 percent in 2000.

    My son entered the labor market this summer. He had to do a lot of digging to come up with a part-time bagger job at the local supermarket. By the time I was his age, I had worked mowing lawns, delivering newspapers, cooking fast food, and washing dishes at Deerfield Academy (I didn't go there; I was a townie who served the rich kids).

    Are my son and other teens today just slackers, or are there other factors at work in the hunt for summer seasonal jobs?

    How does your salary compare to your teen's salary? Find out with our salary calculator.

  • Employee Wages: What is the Typical Wage in the USA?

    A couple of comments by readers got me thinking about typical wages again. In the process, I realized that even the federal government does not know what a "typical" worker in the United States earns.

    This came as a shock to me. With the frequent publication of average household income statistics, wage and salary reports, etc., by the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, and other federal agencies, I had assumed there was a well-defined typical annual wage.

    Here is a pop quiz: how much do you think the typical worker in the United States earns in a year? See if you are earning what is typical for your job by using the PayScale salary calculator.

  • Talk Show Host Salary: The Top Talkers

    Getting paid millions to talk is about the easiest job out there, but getting there is another matter. Forbes recently covered the topic of talk show host salary. You may be surprised to learn that the largest talk show host salary belongs to Howard Stern. The outrageous radio show host receives $500 million salary per his 5-year contract with Sirius Satellite Radio. In addition to his talk show host salary, Howard received a bonus of 22.1 million company shares, reportedly valued at $82.9 million, bringing his total income (last year) to $302 million!

    In second place is the more palatable Oprah Winfrey, who earned $225 million, but that wasn't all based on her talk show host salary. The popular daytime gabber has several sources of income: Her talk show, weekly XM Satellite Radio show, part-ownership of Rachel Ray's syndicated daily talk show and a voice-over role in the latest film adaptation of Charlotte’s Web; that doesn't count her magazine, books and other Oprah-related merchandise.

    How does your salary compare to the salary of a talk show host?  Find out with our salary calculator.

  • Pro Athletes and Their Salaries

    Athletes and their salaries are making the news often these days, CNN.com reports that international soccer star David Beckham has signed a 5-year deal worth $250 million dollars (salary + endorsements) with the Los Angeles Galaxy. The 31-year-old will be earning about $1 million a week, the highest professional athlete salary for a soccer player. Even with that large income, he falls behind golfer Tiger Woods, who reportedly earned over $97 million in 2006 (according sportsillustrated.cnn.com's list of athlete salaries and incomes, putting him in first place of the top 10 highest paid athletes.

    While that may seem outrageous, debates over pro athletes AND salaries are really not that new, as mentioned on findarticles.com. Baseball great Babe Ruth reportedly earned a larger annual salary than President Hoover during the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Ruth defended his $75,000 annual salary by replying, "Why not? I had a better year than (President Hoover) did." Athlete salary statistics were headlines in 1962 when Wilt Chamberlain shocked the NBA in 1962 by turning down an offer of $25,000, which was the more than highest-paid player at the time, Bob Cousey, who earned $22,500.

    How do you and your salary compare to athletes and their salaries?  Play ball with our salary survey.