• College is Not Always a Good Investment

    Today, we released our annual study with Bloomberg BusinessWeek on the return on investment (ROI) in education for 691 bachelor's degree granting schools.

    As college costs continue to rise, the justification for paying these costs becomes ever more important. What better justification is there but a measure of their future payoff? In other words, is attending college a good investment in terms of the pay increase it offers over a high school degree?

    The PayScale ROI study helps to answer this question, but the answer is not a simple yes or no. Whether attending college is a good investment or not depends upon many factors, such as the cost incurred, graduation rates at the school, major choice, and the typical pay of the school's graduates.

    In this post I will briefly discuss the methodology of the study, how it changed from last year, and some key insights from the data.

    Whether you went to college or not, are you earning what you are worth? Find out with a free PayScale salary report.

  • Pay Goes Nowhere after 40

    In a recent project with blogger/career guru Penelope Trunk, we examined the age at which salaries top out. It turns out pay goes essentially nowhere after age 40. Of course there are some differences across gender, degree level and jobs, but the real lesson is don't expect a raise of any real value in the 25 or so years before retirement.

    In this post I will discuss some interesting insights from the data, as well as how the age at which pay growth stops differs across various worker characteristics.

    Are you earning what you are worth, given your experience, degrees, location and other critical factors that affect your pay? Find out with a free PayScale salary report.

  • Salary Madness: NCAA Brackets by Salary

    It's the Monday after Selection Sunday, which means we now know the NCAA division I basketball teams heading to the big dance. As everyone gets ready to fill out their brackets, we here at PayScale wish to offer an alternative method to determining who will take home the top honors.

    What if the pay of a university's graduates predicts how well the school will do in the tournament? You might think this is a weird question, but it turns out our method won the tournament last year. Using this method, we chose Duke as the winner and as all you basketball fans know, Duke in fact beat Butler 61-59.

    Check out our bracket this year, where we predict Princeton to be the winner based on the salary of its alumni/alumnae.

    Is your salary a top seed or just barely making the play-in game? Find out with a free PayScale salary report.

  • PayScale Index: What is an Index Anyway?

    We at PayScale recently released the Q4 2010 results for the PayScale Index. See a previous blog post describing the Index and another one that compares the PayScale Index to other common measures of labor market health.

    However, a common question posed by our readers in response to our release was, "What is an Index?" Or in other words, "What do the numerical values actually measure?"

    In simple terms, an index tracks changes in a variable from some baseline time period. In terms of the PayScale Index, the variable we are tracking is the total cash compensation for full-time private industry employees in the U.S and the baseline year is 2006.

    In this post I will further discuss what an index measures, how it is calculated and compare the PayScale Index to another commonly used index, the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

    Understanding how we measure changes in compensation over time is interesting, but so is understanding your place in the current labor market. Find out where you are with a free PayScale salary report.

  • The PayScale Index: Are Wages Going Up or Down?

    Today PayScale released the Q4 2010 results for the PayScale Index. For people who missed our first release in October, and my blog post describing the PayScale Index, the PayScale Index tracks how the market price of private sector full-time employees, as represented by the wages they are paid, changes over time.

    In this post, I'll look at our results for 2010, and then compare the PayScale Index with three common measures of labor market health: the Unemployment Rate, median Usual Weekly Earnings, and the Employment Cost Index. While each is different from the PayScale Index, they are all trying to get at the same thing: how is the labor market in the US doing?

    National trends are interesting, but what is your market price? In about 5 minutes you can find out what you are worth with the comprehensive PayScale salary survey.

  • Tipping Etiquette: Who should you tip and how much?

    During the holiday season, the notion of tipping those who provide you service becomes a hot topic. However, it is important to remember that tips are a year-round affair for many. The questions that plague most people are: "Who do I tip?" and "How much do I tip them?"

    Fear not, for PayScale is to the rescue. We recently released our 5th annual Tipping Study that answers these questions and then some. In this post, I will highlight interesting results from our study, as well as detail the methodology.

    Do you work in a job where tips are commonplace and are wondering how your pay fares? Find out with a free PayScale salary report.

  • Political Winners and Losers

    Does it pay to be in Congress? According to our recent study, yes it does! By using our extensive salary database, we at PayScale compared the pay earned by Congress Members and Obama's Cabinet to the typical pay they could earn based on their educational background (School attended, Highest Degree Obtained, and Year Graduated).

    Over 90% of the 552 people studied earn a federal government pay that is higher than the typical pay for those with the same educational background. In fact, over a third of the members of Congress earn a pay that is at least double the typical pay for those with the same educational background.

    In this post I will discuss the methodology of this study and some interesting highlights, including who are the salary winners and who are the salary losers.

    Are you a salary winner? Find out with a free PayScale salary report.

  • Tracking Changes in US Pay: The PayScale Index

    Today PayScale released the first quarterly report on The PayScale Index. The PayScale Index tracks how the market price of workers, as represented by the wages they are paid, is changing over time. We believe The PayScale Index provides the most accurate view on changes in what employees are earning amidst this turbulent economy.

    The PayScale Index follows changes in total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees in the United States, and utilizes a unique approach to trend measurement. Unlike indices such as the Consumer Price Index, which measures the prices of certain goods and services (periodically updated to reflect changes in buying habits of Americans), The PayScale Index uses data on all private sector full-time employees working in a given time period.

    In this post, after a brief summary of how The PayScale Index works, I will hit some of the most interesting results we found. Some you expect, e.g., Detroit pay has been collapsing for years; other findings may be more surprising, like wages nationally declined in 2009.

    Knowing how pay is changing is useful, but knowing what you are worth is more important. Find out with PayScale's comprehensive and accurate salary survey.

  • College Grad Salaries: Which School and Major Pays?

    In partnership with CNN/Money, PayScale has produced its annual College Salary Report for 2010. Unlike the more subtle 2010 PayScale College Return on Investment (ROI) Report, this report answers four simple questions:

    • What do bachelor's graduates with a particular major earn, both early in their career and at mid-career?
    • What do bachelor's graduates of a school earn, both early in their career and at mid-career?

    This year, the report includes an analysis of 999 US schools and 120 majors, up from 598 schools and 75 majors last year, and now covers schools with over 80% of all enrolled bachelor's degree students.

    Working on this report, I am always amazed at the diversity of higher education in the US. Read on to learn about the top majors and schools this year, including some surprising changes from last year.

    Are you earning what you are worth, given the degrees, experience, responsibilities, location and other critical factors that affect your pay? Find out with PayScale's comprehensive and accurate salary survey.

  • 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.

  • Tools for Judging College as an Investment

    Nancy Folbre, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst had a thought provoking post on the Economix blog on the economics of universities, and the value of a college education.

    She brought up three interesting problems:

    1. Difficulty the "buyers" of a college education have in judging value
    2. Rising costs and questionable approaches for new revenue (e.g., marketing for out of state students)
    3. Poor outcomes such as low graduation rates particularly at for-profit and large state universities

    I have blogged comparing private and public universities before. In this post, I just want to point out the resources that are most useful in judging the economic value of a 4-year bachelor's degree education from a particular institution.

    Bachelor's degree or not, are you earning what you are worth? Spend 5 minutes completing the PayScale online salary evaluation survey and know.

  • Worst Paying College Majors

    Recently a piece on the "Worst Paying College Majors" in the Huffington Post and later on Yahoo! received a lot of attention. The list of "Worst Paying College Majors" came from our annual PayScale College Salary Report.

    People both hotly debated and amicably agreed upon the list of majors via 1000+ comments at the end of the Huffington Post piece. In this article I will discuss two of these comments and address misconceptions some Huffington Post readers have.

    Are you curious whether you are paid what you're worth, given the major and career you chose? Find out with a free PayScale Salary Report.

  • Does a 2nd Choice School mean 2nd Rate Pay?

    As high school seniors spent April sorting through their college acceptance letters and deciding where to attend school, they may now be lamenting the fact they were rejected by their top choice college or university. However, a recent article in The Daily Beast finds people who don't attend their top choice school are regularly happier than those who do.

    Top choice schools are often schools with name recognition and severe admission standards (e.g. Harvard or Berkeley), not necessarily schools that are a good fit for the applicant. The Daily Beast article finds students typically rank prestigious schools as top choice schools, even if the student knows very little about the school. This blogger is guilty of this: my top choice school was Princeton University for no real reason other than the fact it was Princeton.

    Upon closer inspection, 2nd choice schools may offer a better fit in terms of the academic rigor, social life, campus setting and location. Therefore, students who attend their 2nd choice school are often happier with this choice.

    However, what does attending a 2nd choice school mean for your pay down the road? In other words, is there a trade-off between happiness and future salaries when attending a lower choice school?

    Are you curious whether you are paid what you're worth given the school you chose? Find out with PayScale's detailed salary calculator.

  • 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.

  • Best Companies for Gen Y: Millennials at Work

    PayScale and Brazen Careerist released today the "Top 50 Gen Y Companies". It was a lot of fun working with Penelope Trunk developing this list.

    Gen Y, also known as Millennials, is the generation born after 1977. Since over half of Gen Y go to 4-year colleges, we decided to focus on the large companies where Gen Y college grads would most likely be happy working.

    In this post, after a quick review of the methodology, I will count the winner and losers, and look at why some famous companies didn't make the list.

    Even if you are not working at a top Gen Y company, are you at least being paid fairly? Find out with a free PayScale Salary Report.

  • Majors by Gender: Is It Bias or the Major that Determines Future Pay?

    The discussion of pay differences across gender is a hot topic. We addressed this topic recently in a project with the New York Times Economix Blog, as well as in our own blog post. In these studies, we controlled for compensable factors (experience, education, specialty, company size, etc.) across men and women and find the gender wage gap to be 94%, which is much narrower than the oft quoted 77 cents to the dollar.

    One reason the National Committee on Pay Equity finds a pay gap of 77% is they don't control for major or job choice and instead compare differences in the national median salaries of men and women.

    However, as we have discussed in previous blog posts (here and here), choice of degree type and college major play a large role in determining national pay differences across men and women. Simply put, women tend to choose majors that pay a lower national median pay.

    Are you curious whether you are paid what you're worth given the major you chose? Find out with a free PayScale Salary Report.

  • Jobs that Make Our World a Better Place

    Posted by Katie Bardaro

    The Thanksgiving Holiday is a time to give thanks and recognize the people who contribute to our wellbeing. These people include the teachers who impart wisdom on our children, the doctors who ensure our health, and volunteers who are vital to the success of our social programs.

    In fact, there are many jobs that help to make our world a better place; some of which might not come to mind immediately.

    In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we at PayScale decided to create a list of "Jobs that Make the World a Better Place." In this post, I will look at those jobs whose workers deserve our thanks, and how they are monetarily rewarded for their efforts.

    Are you curious if you're paid what you're worth? Find out with a free PayScale Salary Report.

  • Women Earn Less Than Men, But Why?

    In a recent project with Catherine Rampell at the New York Times Economix Blog, we examine the pay differential between men and women across a set of 90 jobs.

    Numerous studies have looked at the gender wage gap, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the New York Times, and the Census. However, the question remains, why does the gap exist?

    Examining national pay differences across men and women, even by job title, can be misleading. Men and women in a sample may be different in ways that employers could legitimately pay differently.

    Using our unique dataset here at PayScale, we are able to control for many outside compensable factors (experience, education, specialty, company size, etc.) in order to provide a more apples-to-apples comparison.

    This allows us to give one of the strongest answers to date to the question, "If a man and woman are doing the exact same job with the exact same qualifications, responsibilities, and employer type, is the man still paid more than the woman?"

    In this post, I will look at what our data says, and address some of the questions and misconceptions Economix readers have.

    Are you curious if you're paid what you're worth, no matter your gender? Find out with a free PayScale Salary Report.

  • 4-Year vs. 2-Year College Degrees: How Does the Pay Compare?

    With the rising cost of four-year colleges, people may ask themselves whether the salary promised by a bachelor's degree is really worth the time and money required to complete the program. Why not complete an associate's degree program, and enter the workforce sooner and (mostly) free of debt?

    Using the extensive PayScale salary database, in this post we will examine the pay differences across degrees and other characteristics. While our database has its limitations - for example, we don't track unemployment rates, which are much higher for less advanced degrees - it gives us insight into the value in salary of finishing four years at a college or university.

    Will a bachelor's degree lead to higher pay in your career? Use the PayScale salary survey to find out.

  • Is Your Job One of the Best in America?

    In a recent project with CNN/Money Magazine, we looked at all the factors, not just pay, that go into making the 100 Best Jobs in America. Is there a lot of growth in the field? Is the job low stress? Does it offer scheduling flexibility? And how many positions are even available?

    The set of jobs is a mix: some require extensive medical training (e.g. Anesthesiologist); others offer a lot of schedule flexibility (e.g. Software Product Manager), and still others are sworn to secrecy about their day-to-day activities (e.g. Intelligence Analyst).

    In this post, I will discuss the methodology used to determine the Best Jobs in America, and pull out some of the most interesting points from the data.

    Is your job a "Best Job" and you are wondering if you are earning top dollar? Find out with a free PayScale salary report.