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  • Top Paying Jobs for People with No College Degrees

    By: Dr. Al Lee - PayScale.com

    In a previous column, I mentioned some top paying jobs for people with no college degrees.  The response was so strong that we are back for round two of the "best career choices with no college degree." Lest any parents out there accuse me of being an incompetent career counselor, keep in mind that neither Microsoft Founder Bill Gates nor Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has a college degree.

    Of course, Bill dropped out of Harvard, and Larry out of the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago. If your kid gets into a top university (or two), and then wants to drop out, these two billionaires are evidence your child can still be a financial success.

    As reported on CNN.com, one of the top paying jobs for people with no college degrees is working as an air traffic controller. You are directing which planes can land and take off, so hundreds of lives are in your hands. A college degree is not necessary, but you do need three years of on-the-job work experience and/or four years of college. You also need to pass pre-employment testing, make it through the FAA Academy, and more training. It does pay well; the median salary for an air traffic controller with 13-20 years of experience is $98,300 per year.

    How does your salary compare to a "no college degree salary?" Do the math with our salary calculator.

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  • Are PayScale Salary Reports Unbiased?

    Sometimes we are asked, are the PayScale salary reports unbiased? Since PayScale does not explicitly select the people who complete our salary survey, how do we know the ~2% of employees in the US who have completed our survey are representative of the US working population as a whole?

    The extent to which any aggregate statistic, like typical salary, is biased (inaccurate) depends on how it is constructed, and what question it is trying to answer. In this post, I'll look at three aspects of bias in reporting:

    • All aggregate statistics lie: There is no such thing as a "true" typical answer
    • The case of the civil engineer: Even well-measured typical values are wrong, simply because they are aggregates
    • Sampling bias: A sample may not be suitable for the question being asked

    In future posts, I will look at bias in government wage calculations, and then come back to whether PayScale data are biased for the questions we try to answer.

    Is your salary biased high or low? The PayScale Salary Calculator is a quick and easy way to compare positions. But when you want powerful salary data and comparisons customized for your exact position, be sure to build a complete profile by taking PayScale's full salary survey.

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  • CEO Salaries: PayScale in the New York Times

    I was excited to wake up today and see an article about PayScale in the New York Times. Together with a recent article in Business 2.0 magazine, PayScale has been getting very good press lately.

    As a person born just across the river in New Jersey, The New York Times has always represented the height of newspaper publishing to me. While it is great to be quoted in The Province (Vancouver, BC), seeing such a prominent article in the NYT says PayScale is real to my friends and family back east.

    While the New York Times article was fair in describing the strengths and weaknesses of PayScale and our competitors, one small item annoyed me. As regular readers will suspect, the issue of CEO salaries in New York City touched on my obsession with mean vs. median.

    Before reading another pedantic post on statistics, why not take a couple minutes to compare your salary using PayScale's salary calculator, as seen in the New York Times!

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  • How Large a Salary Survey Sample is Enough? (II)

    In a previous post, I claimed that as few as 5 employee profiles are enough to report accurately on the typical pay for a job. How can that be?

    In this post, we'll look at how statistics work, and why a small, targeted, data set is often preferable to a much larger, but poorly characterized one. You don't even need fancy math to calculate this.

    If you are curious what kind of sample we have for your job, try the PayScale salary calculator.

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  • Software Developer Salary: How does PayScale understand what I do?

    software developer, salary survey, job titles, dental hygienist, salary range, List Project Management Software Developer, Administrator Rights Software Developer, Microsoft Access Software Developers in Portland, Oregon, Software Developer Computer Programmer Job, Software developer salary, Software Developers and Security Training It was great to see a blog post on TechCrunch about PayScale. Even better were the comments: they reminded me of questions we regularly get about the effectiveness of our salary survey.

    One common question about our salary survey is some variation of, "My job title is software developer. How does PayScale take into account what I actually do?" Software developer can mean everything from writing Excel macros to automating a spreadsheet (I've been doing too much of that lately), to re-writing the Windows NT kernel for 64 bit computing.

    How does PayScale handle this variation of duties and job titles?

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  • 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.

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  • 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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  • Why is there no salary standard deviation on PayScale?

    I am sometimes asked, "why doesn't the PayScale Salary Report and Salary Research Center show the standard deviation of the data? (See Wikipedia for the (useless) mathematical definition of standard deviation.)

    People are are interested in the standard deviation, because it attempts to give the typical variation in salaries. The first thing they calculate with it is a typical range of salaries, by simply adding and subtracting it from the mean.

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  • Which Companies Are in PayScale's Salary Database?

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  • Salary Data: Where does PayScale get data? How do I know it’s accurate?

    At PayScale, our salary data resides in the largest real-time online employee salary database in the world. The salary database was built from the millions of curious individuals who want to compare their salary data and understand the market for their skills.

    We create each individualized salary report by analyzing anonymous salary data collected over the last year from people with similar job titles, years experience, education, etc. This automated process includes extensive checks and statistical tests for consistency and accuracy on all salary data.

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