• Average Salaries: Are they really highest in San Francisco?
    A recent article in the Portland Business Journal claims that average salaries in San Francisco are the highest in the country. Is this true? Does it pay to live in San Francisco? Is it really that bad a deal to live in Birmingham, Alabama, the place with the lowest average salaries?

    If you have read my earlier posts, you know to be skeptical about any statement about "median", "typical", or "average" salaries. This particular study reports on the median salary in each city for jobs that have a national median salary of $30,000. This was a little too vague for me, so I looked in the PayScale salary survey data for my own two typical jobs: Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Registered Nurse (RN).

  • Fashion Week: Pay for jobs that could get you there to hobnob with Paris Hilton

    Fashion Week is on in New York City. Stuck out here in Seattle, with a job about as far from fashion as one can get, I had no luck convincing my boss to pay for a junket to Fashion Week.

    What jobs would get me to Fashion Week? Do any of them pay well? I did a little digging using our salary survey data. I found a couple jobs that pay a reasonably salary, and I would stand a chance of being able to justify a week in NYC to the boss.

    These are not jobs where you will automatically rub elbows with Hilary Duff and Usher, or ogle Nicky and Paris Hilton from the first row, or even be able to afford clothes from Marc Jacobs, but you will be in the fashion industry, and have a paycheck that is good enough to keep your family off your back about getting a "real" job.

  • Why Is Median Better Than Mean for a Typical Salary?

    In a previous post, I commented that PayScale's Salary Survey preferentially reports typical salaries based on the median instead of the arithmetic mean (average).

    Why is the median better than the mean for measuring "typical" values? The best way to understand what is wrong with the mean is to look at how both behave in answering a simple question: how well have Stephon Marbury's Lincoln High School basketball teammates done in their careers in the last 10 years?

  • Why is PayScale’s salary for my job low?

    People often complain that our salary survey results are too low. Strangely, very few people complain our salary survey results are too high :-)

    People object to our salary survey results even when the difference between our salary survey result and their expectations is less than 10%. It seems that Zillow has the same problem with house appraisals as we have for salaries. This got me wondering to what extent our problems are similar.

  • Searching for a Salary Report for an unusual job? The PayScale challenge

    One of our most common customer questions is, "Why does PayScale not have a salary report for my job?" Please do not feel we are biased against you; we do not have a salary report for me either, a Quantitative Analysis Director from Seattle. :-)

    We have over a million salary data profiles from roughly 1% of all people who work in the United States, and a signficant number from other countries as well. We don't have enough salary data to report on every possible job title, in every location, with every experience level and the dozen other critical factors that determine an employee's salary, because of the way our system works.

    Our salary calculator is based on a few simple principles:

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