• Hollywood Writer Salaries, Hollywood Writer's Wages: Why They Are On Strike

    You may have heard that members of the Writer's Guild are on strike, but it's not just Hollywood writer salaries that are in jeopardy. According to Reuters.com, non-writing staff members of TV shows are being shown the door. NBC recently laid off the entire production staff of the Tonight Show and workers were told that their jobs might not be there after the strike. Fortunately, Jay Leno has said that he'll pay their salaries.

    On the east coast, TV show staffs are also being affected by the writer's strike. Like Leno, late night talker Conan O'Brien is paying, out of his own pocket, the salaries of nearly 80 non-writing staffers and the Hollywood writer salaries of his joke scribes (the AFP reports). Why are the writers striking? What is at stake for Hollywood writer salaries?  Keep reading!

    How does your salary compare to a Hollywood writer's wages? Find out with PayScale's full salary survey.

  • 25% Regret New Jobs: What to Consider When Considering a Job Offer

    I have a colleague whose friend was one offered the head-writing job on the Fox-TV series America's Most Wanted. He accepted the job, but was then told he would have to fly to a different location every week with the crime-fighting host John Walsh. The problem? His friend hated flying. Accepting the wrong job is more common than you would think, according to a recent article at csmonitor.com about new-job regrets and what to consider when considering a job offer.

    According to the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, about 25 percent of workers actually regret taking a new position within the first year.  It's not just Joe Six Pack who's getting cold feet; Katie Couric has suggested that her move from NBC's "Today" show to the "CBS Evening News" might have been a mistake. Clearly, there are other factors just as important as negotiating job offer salaries.

    Are you in the right career?  Find out with our salary survey.
    Could you current salary take you farther in another city? Find out with the PayScale Cost of Living Calculator.

  • Secure Jobs in the USA

    Secure Jobs in the USA

    Job security is pretty rare these days. News stories of downsizing, outsourcing and even in-sourcing (jobs going to prisons) abound. However, there are some professions that are more secure then others. Forbes.com recently ran an article on the most secure jobs in the USA.

    Topping the list was a federal judge. It's not an easy position to get, and you must be approved by Congress, but once you're in, that's a lifetime appointment. The salaries for U.S. Federal Judges are in the $150,000 and up range. See my post on judges' pay for whether this is a lot or a little...

    Before we look at the other "secure" jobs, how secure is your salary?  Find out with our salary calculator.

  • Sign on Bonus to Join the Military vs. Joining the Scouts

    In an earlier column, I mentioned how the U.S. government was awarding a sign on bonus in order to increase enlistments.  Well, that sign on bonus to join the military was the subject of a firestorm recently when KDKA.com reported that wounded U.S. soldiers were being told to give back part of their military signing bonus.

    This story of military salary scale gone awry hit the media when serviceman Jordan Fox received a letter from the government demanding the return of almost $3K of his military signing bonus. Fox had to return stateside three months early after he lost vision in his right eye, due to a roadside bomb in Iraq. Should injured servicemen have to return part of their sign on bonus to join the military?

    How would your salary be affected if you had to return your bonuses?  Find out with PayScale's full salary survey.

  • Government Employment Opportunities: On the Rise

    You don't have to be Rudy, Hillary or Obama to seek a job in the U.S. government. CNN.Money.com reported that government employment opportunities are greatly increasing. A new study by Partnership for Public Service (a nonprofit group) says that the feds are about to start looking for employees to fill 193,000 United States government jobs. The openings - including federal government part time jobs - will occur between now and 2009.

    The main causes of these government employment opportunities are the expected retirement of 33% of the federal workforce and the ever-growing war on terror. Additions will include 47,897 jobs at the Department of Homeland Security, 35,505 positions at the Department of Defense as well as 27,243 border patrol agents, customs agents, food inspectors, criminal investigators and TSA airport screeners.  However, government employment opportunities are not limited to US Government security jobs.

    How does your salary compare to United States government jobs?  Find out with our salary survey.

  • Starting Lawyer Salary: Partner Lawyer Salaries

    Wal-Mart is famous (or infamous depending on your POV) for its employees' salaries, and now it appears the big box giant is concerned about today's starting lawyer salary. As recently reported by the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart sent a memo to its legal counsel bemoaning an increase in legal fees and pointing a finger at the starting lawyer salary of $160,000.

    In the memo, Miguel Rivera Sr., associate general counsel for Wal-Mart, wrote, “The salaries that law firms choose to pay their junior associates are none of our concern."  But then he added, “Based on the size and frequency of the rate increase requests that we have seen over the past three years, it appears that many of the requested increases are largely attributable to the steady, nationwide increases in junior associate salaries.”

    How does your salary compare to a starting lawyer salary?  Find out by taking PayScale's full salary survey.

  • Does Going to Meetings Pay?

    By: Dr. Al  Lee

    PayScale has a handy tool: Meeting Miser. The idea is that you enter the job titles of people in a meeting, and the tool uses PayScale salary data to estimate how much a meeting costs per minute. It is scary how expensive in employees' wages even a small meeting can become.

    The Meeting Miser got me thinking about meetings, and when I think about meetings, I always recall the memorable scene from the film Glengarry Glen Ross when Alec Baldwin tells a group of high-pressure real estate agents that first prize for sales is a Cadillac, second prize is a set of steak knives, and third prize is "you're fired." What is drama in the movies is revisited on TV as farce: the same scene was reprised on the NBC comedy Chuck.

    Fortunately, most business meetings are not so pressure-filled. Meetings are a central part of corporate culture, from weekly status meetings to "all-hands" company-wide extravaganzas. With the growth of meetings, job opportunities for meeting planners and meeting facilitators are expanding rapidly as well. PayScale has data on the average salaries for meeting / convention planners.

    What about workers who attend meetings? Do jobs that require attendance at company meetings pay more or less than those that don't? The answers may surprise you...

    How does your salary compare to meeting planners' salaries?  Find out with PayScale's full salary survey.

  • Job Market Growth and Wages: By Counties

    Do you have to live in a big city to earn big wages?  About half of all Americans live in the 30 largest urban areas of 2 million or more in population, and more than 70% live in the 100 largest metros with more than 500,000 in population. However, there is money to be made outside (perhaps only slightly outside) these urban centers.

    CNN.Money.com recently reported on the strong job market growth and wages in certain non-urban counties. Topping the list was Tooele County, Utah which has seen a job increase of 112.5% (from 2000-2006). This traditional mining region is now employing workers in technical and scientific fields. With almost full employment, Tooele County's job growth outlook includes a new metals plant that will pay an average salary of $45,000.

    How does your salary compare to high paying jobs in non-urban locations? Find out with our salary calculator.

  • Salaries of New York Yankees Baseball Players

    It's no easy task owning the New York Yankees these days. The salaries of New York Yankees baseball players cost around $195 million, total, and are going to increase as some contracts are up for renewal. The Yankees are expected to pay Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada $40 million (each) over three years, and exercise $16 million options for right fielder Bobby Abreu and pitcher Andy Pettitte.  But those numbers are peanuts compared to third baseman Alex Rodriguez, also known as a "A-Rod."

    A-Rod leads the salaries of New York Yankees baseball players and all MLB players. And now, his ten-year $252 million contract is about to expire, meaning he will become a free agent. According to Sports illustrated.cnn.com, he will once again top the salaries of New York Yankees baseball players, if he accepts the Yankees' anticipated offer of 4 to 5 years at $25 to $30 million annually. And on top of that, he's still owed more money.  How much?  Keep reading.

    How does your salary compare to the salaries of New York Yankees baseball players?  Find out with the PayScale Salary Calculator.

  • Finding Percentages in Salary Increase for 2008

    I blogged a while ago about salary predictions for 2007; what about finding percentages in salary increase for 2008? That was the topic of a Money.CNN.com article. Everyone's situation is different, but the average pay increase doesn't look too impressive in 2008, according to a salary survey by human resource consulting firms Hewitt and Mercer. They are surveying up to 1,000 companies, and so far their preliminary salary survey results show an average pay increase of 3.8 percent next year.

    According to Ken Abosch, the head of Hewitt Associate's compensation practice, the typical pay raise increase is expected to be tame even for star employees. Because base salary is one of a company's largest expenses, there's a push to keep a lid on fixed costs. That said, the area where employees may earn more money will be in bonuses. Of course, there are always exceptions; will you get a raise in 2008?  Keep reading!

    Wondering how to calculate a pay increase?  Find out with our salary calculator.

  • State Teacher Salary Comparisons: Texas Teacher Salary Gap

    Texas state teacher pay is an interesting topic. In a previous column (Salary for Teachers vs. Average Pay for High School Coaches), I noted how high school football coaches earn a far greater salary than most teachers in Texas. The Statesman.com also reported on more state teacher salary comparisons; this time between the teachers themselves. According to the article, the salary for teachers at poor schools (with minority students) is less than the salary for teachers at wealthier schools.

    The Texas teacher salary gap is reportedly wider in Austin than in most other large Texas school districts, according to a pair of recent reports based on a teacher salary survey of the state's 10 largest school districts by University of Texas education researcher Ed Fuller. The reports were funded by a Washington-based think-tank Education Trust. Is Austin being unfairly singled out? What's going on with Texas teacher salaries?

    Is your salary earning high marks? Find out with our salary calculator.

  • Salaries of Pro Athletes: The David Beckham Salary

    I've previously blogged about the salaries of pro athletes. It's hard to ignore the 24/7 hype surrounding the British soccer star David Beckham and his reported $250 million dollar pay day. He is playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team, which hopes the Euro footballer can create excitement for a sport that never quite caught on in the U.S.

    The question is, how much is Beckham actually earning in annual salary? Will he really earn $250 million in compensation?

    As reported by the Houston Chronicle, Beckham's annual salary will be $5.5 million a year (plus another unspecified million) for the next five years. Does this join the ranks of overpaid professional athletes' salaries? Major League Soccer (MSL) player salaries normally cap at $2.4 million, but the new "Beckham Rule" allows for exceptions of certain professional athletes' high salaries. According to the Washington Post, the average soccer player salary in the MSL is $115,432; about 30 percent of the MSL players are under developmental contracts and earn $17,700 or $12,900.

    How does your salary compare to average professional sports salaries?  Find out with our salary survey.

  • 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.

  • Ebusiness Trends in Job Hunting

    The other day I overheard a woman in a coffee shop calling "help wanted" ads out of the newspaper with her cell phone.  I could only hear what was said on her end, but it wasn't promising:  "Umm, no, I don't have a resume."  "I don't know what speed I can type." It was probably not one of the better executive administrative assistant job searches. Most people are better prepared than she was (I hope), but may still have a hard time finding employment and/or dealing with job hunting frustrations.

    Forbes.com recently covered some ebusiness trends in job hunting and suggested ways to boost a flagging job search. Most jobs are not filled through classified ads, but through networking. Like it or not, it's who you know, or who you just met. Some executive job coaches recommend three to five networking meetings weekly. Just like dating, job hunting and successful internet job searches are often a numbers game.

    Would your salary last if you were job hunting for over a year?  Find out with the PayScale's full salary survey.

  • University Faculty and President Salaries: In the News

    Faculty salaries at colleges and universities have been in the news quite a bit. As reported by PennLive.com, Penn State University is refusing to disclose university salaries, including the college coach salary of Joe Paterno. The salary information was requested by The Patriot-News, but Penn state has historically kept university salaries private. The school says that releasing salary information could result in "bidding wars" for their top coaches and teachers.

    However, the Patriot-News claims that the salary information is part of the public accountability of Penn State - Pennsylvania's largest university and supported by taxpayers. The newspaper had won a lower court decision in 2005, but Penn State is now appealing to the state's highest court. In their appeal, Penn State says that its employees' constitutional privacy rights are more important than its obligations as a public taxpayer-funded agency.

    Is your salary worthy of secrecy? (Whisper: Find out with our salary calculator.)

  • What are the top jobs in television broadcasting?

    What are the top jobs in television broadcasting? According to a recent report, Rupert Murdoch the chairman and chief executive of News Corp., may have the best gig of all. This fiscal year he earned a total compensation valued at $24.3 million, per an analysis of a recent regulatory filing. Of that $24.3 million, $8.1 million was Murdoch's salary, an increase of $3.6 million from last year.

    The 76-year-old Murdoch also received a $15.8 million bonus and additional compensation of $356,175.  This reportedly consisted of $337,427 in personal use of the company aircraft, $11,998 in personal use of company cars and $6,750 in retirement plan payments (err, does he really need a retirement plan?). How did others in News Corp. do in this broadcasting salary survey? Keep reading!

    What are the top jobs in television broadcasting?  How do they compare against your salary?  Find out with PayScale's full salary survey.

  • Median vs. Mean Lawyer Salaries: Is Law School Worth It?

    A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), "Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers", reported on the large number of law school graduates suffering under large debt with surprisingly low salary prospects.

    If only these prospective law students had been reading this blog. They would have understood the difference between median and mean, and that only 10% of students can be in the 90th percentile of salaries :-)

    While the Wall Street Journal focused on the somewhat misleading marketing done by second tier law schools, in truth there is plenty of data available, e.g., from PayScale's research center, on just how low the typical median starting lawyer salaries are.

    In this post, I'll look at lawyers salaries: the top, the bottom, and the middle. Yes, for specific skill sets and employers, the attorney salaries are still good. That pay just is not the typical (median) law student's experience.

    Is your salary above or below the median for people like you? Find out with the PayScale Salary Calculator.

  • The 25 Best Paying Careers.. and the Worst

    By: Dr. Al Lee

    Forbes announced its annual list of the 25 best paying careers and the worst. Forbes drew info from the U.S. government's National, State and Metropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. This 2006 data was based on a national survey of employers of various sizes, industries and occupations.

    I am very familiar with these government estimates. The government does a great job with the broad forces at work (macro economics) in employment and compensation. It is a little funny that Forbes uses the government defined occupations, because the sizes of the ~800 occupations vary widely. For example, both Mine Shuttle Car Operators with 3,000 workers nation-wide and Sales Representatives with 1.5 million are "occupations".

    Not surprisingly, top paying jobs in the medical field dominate the list of careers. According to Forbes, anesthesiologists had a salary increase of 5.8%. If we take a look at our PayScale research center, anesthesiologist salaries in major cities are north of $200,000; not bad for knocking someone out.

    What about the worst paying jobs? Food preparation and serving workers top that lowly list of careers. According to Forbes, there was a 2.4% increase in these salaries, bringing the average salary of a food preparation and serving worker up to $15,930.

    Is your salary one of the best paying careers, or one of the worst?  Find out with our salary survey.

  • Real Wages Fail To Match A Rise In Productivity

    Real wages fail to match a rise in productivity, that is the conclusion in a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute (as reported on Money.CNN.com). According to the study, productivity has been strong since 2000, employment has increased, but this economic growth hasn't helped workers at the middle and lower end salary ranges.

    The study says that worker productivity has increased nearly 20% since 2000, but the real median hourly wage of all workers rose only 3%. The study goes on to state that worker productivity has risen 5%, since 2003, but the median hourly wage has decreased 1.1%. It's not all bad news, women have seen a rise in wages of 4.7% between 2000 and 2007, but real median wages for men rose just 1.1%.

    How high has your salary risen? Find out with our easy-to-use salary survey .

  • Communication Rules in the Workplace: Secret Salaries?

    At PayScale, workers and employees from across the country and the world share their salaries with us. We tabulate this information from our salary survey to produce information people can use to determine whether they are paid fairly. Of course, we keep identities secret, only reporting anonymous and aggregate compensation data.

    However, as money.cnn.com recently reported, it can be dicey for employees in the same office to share information on salary and payment among themselves. Salary information discussions can be a touchier subject than politics or religion.

    Some employment contracts even have communication rules that forbid their employees from sharing information on salary and benefits.

    In this post, I'll look at whether these are rules legal in the US, how employees go about finding salary information from their co-workers, and what the experts say about sharing information on salary and wages in the workplace, by both employees and employers.

    Here is a hint: the easy way to find out if you're being paid what you're worth, and avoid the office politics, is to use the PayScale salary calculator.