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.

Why We’d Rather Be in Canada: Wages Up

With the release of the second quarter (Q2) 2011 PayScale Index, we added tracking of national pay trends for Canada. The striking difference is how much better Canadian wages have bounced back from the recession than in the United States.

In this blog post, we will look at Canadian trends in pay over the last 5 years, and see what the PayScale data about Canadian wages through the first six months of 2011 tell us about how the demand for workers is recovering.

Finally, we will look at other economic measures, like unemployment and gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Canada, and see if Canadian workers' wages are subject to the same supply and demand forces we have been seeing in the PayScale Index for the United States.

National pay trends are interesting, but are wages for your job trending up? 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.

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.

“Salaried, Non-Exempt:” When Hourly Rate is “Flexible”

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.

Telecommuting From Home Success Stories

Csmonitor.com devoted an entire article to telecommuting from home success stories. In the age of Blackberry, Skype, e-mail and instant messaging, it is becoming more common for businesses to allow employees to telecommute from home, or even the local coffee shop. I touched on this in my previous post about legitimate work at home jobs. 

Exactly how many people are working in their PJs? WorldatWork, a national organization of HR professionals, says that around 28 million Americans are working from home at least one day per month, and that number could reach 100 million by 2010. Which jobs were included in these telecommuting from home success stories?  Keep reading!

How does your salary compare to telecommuting from home success stories?  Find out with the PayScale Salary Calculator. You can also use the PayScale Cost of Living Calculator to see how much you would need to make to maintain your current standard of living in a different city. 

University Graduate Salaries: Which Schools Pay Off?

PayScale just released a College Salary Report: Best Colleges & Degrees. With my able associate Erica Sanders, I had a great time digging through our extensive data to understand whether graduates of different schools have different long-term salaries.

What makes our data so unique is that we have the jobs people are doing now - 5, 10, 20 or more years after they attended their undergraduate institution - and what these graduates are being paid now.

There are other surveys that track recent graduate salaries, and we can do that too. (See my post on Starting Salaries for College Grads.) We also have previously mined our college data for March Madness (Alumni Salaries vs. NCAA Championships), to mixed success in predicting the outcome of the Men's basketball tournament. :-)

In this post, I'll look at our College Salary Report - Best Colleges and Degrees methodology, what the different salaries mean, and apologize to Temple University, Weber State University, and Claremont McKenna College for not including them in our report :-)

College degree or not, are you earning as much as you could? Use the PayScale Salary Calculator to discover what employees like you are earning.

Jobs with Good Vacation Plans

For some folks, time off from work can be just as important as salary. Fortunately, there are careers that allow you to take more time off than the average Joe who might get two weeks. In fact, some careers offer two to three months off. Jobs with good vacation plans are out there, you just need to know where to look.

However, increased free time often comes with increased risk. If your idea of a fun vacation is being paid, and having a job to come back to, some of these options may not be for you.

How does your salary compare to jobs with good vacation plans? Find out with PayScale's full salary survey.

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.