How Can I Find Average Salaries for My Profession?

Read on to learn how salary data for your career may differ according to different sources. Learn how to research salary information based on specific criteria, including which sources to use.

Average Salary Defined

When researching the average salary of your chosen profession, it's important that you understand the various terms used to describe salary information, such as average, mean and median. To determine average salary, also known as mean salary, you take the monetary values of all salaries available and add them together, then divide them by the number of total salaries taken into account.

Make sure you understand the difference between average salary and median salary. You can find your profession's median salary by taking all available salary data and arranging the numbers in order from highest to lowest. Using this method, the middle number is the median. This is the amount an actual person makes, and it could be higher or lower than the average salary. It is often considered more accurate than average salary numbers when discussing the salary of a specific profession, because one or two exceptional salaries in a particular group can offset the average considerably.

Important Considerations About Average Salaries

Salary influences Experience, education, qualified workers, certification, achievements, location
Salary considerations Taxes, union dues, certification requirements, licensure fees, continuing education
Total average salary in the U.S. (2014) $46,481.52

Source: Social Security Administration

Salary Calculators

The following list contains more information about how to find the average salary for a selected profession:

Professional Organizations

Many professions have an organization or association that provides salary information for people working in their field. These organizations often have websites that provide salary information, as well as offering industry updates and professional credentials. For instance, the American Medical Association (AMA) publishes the average salary for a variety of medical professions on its website (www.ama-assn.org).

Government Websites

You might also consult government websites that include information on the average salaries for various professions. They use surveys to determine the average salaries earned by people in nearly every field. Information about the number of people in the profession and about the economic state of each industry is also included. An example of such a government resource is the Occupational Employment Statistics section of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website (wws.bls.gov).

Other Salary Sources

Other reputable websites focus specifically on making salary information available to the general public. For example, you can find average salary information on websites like Salary.com and PayScale.com. PayScale.com divides the information by location, industry, job title, experience and company size, as well.

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