The Importance of Knowing Your Worth
Whether you are wondering if you are being paid fairly, searching for a new job and need to know what pay ranges you should expect in a new location, or just want to know the average compensation for your profession, sooner or later, an online salary comparison tool comes in handy. In a recent article we covered how location, facility, experience, and willingness to travel all come into play when trying to find the highest paying job. But, for strictly comparing average earnings based on location and setting, an online salary comparison tools is the way to go.
The internet is full of salary comparison tools. How will you decide which wage forecasting tool is the best for your situation? To make your job a little simpler, we’ve listed 5 of the most common salary comparison tools and given you a brief overview of the pros and cons of each one.
Differences in How Comparisons Tools Calculate Their Results.
The results for what your average salary in a specific area will vary from site to site, so it’s important to keep in mind what datasets each resource is using. In general, websites are based on either census data, user data that comes from surveys of the individuals using their site, or a combination of both. Here is how they breakdown, and how each one may benefit you.
Tools Based on Occupational Employment Statistics Wage Survey
1. Bureau of Labor and Statistics – Reliable, Comprehensive, and Complex
If you don’t mind digging through piles of data, why not just look up your average salary statistics from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics yourself? This is the least user friendly option, hence the proliferation of other salary comparison tools. However, you will find your specialty under section 29-000, Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations, and you can explore the data from there. You can view the median as well as the bottom and top percentiles of wages for physical therapists in the five main arenas of home health, medical/surgical hospitals, offices of physicians, offices of other health practitioners, and nursing facilities. There are other helpful statistics by state and metro area for employment, location quotient and mean wage.
The results from this comparison tool are based on the 2014 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Wage Survey.The OES program mails and collects surveys to approximately 200,000 establishments every six months, taking three years to fully collect a sample of 1.2 million establishments that make up their database of wage statistics for over 800 professions. This mammoth undertaking is conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) and State Workforce Agencies. The BLS then slices and dices the information from their surveys in every way imaginable and publishes the results on their website. Providing job seekers with a glimpse at the median wages in their location is just one of the many uses for this database.
Pros: You won’t find a more comprehensive source of salary data. The most recent wage data is for May 2014.
Cons: As with most things produced by the United States Government, prepare to decipher a foreign language, full of abbreviations and unimaginable complexities. This site tries to be user friendly for the general population, but you should plan on studying the results for a few hours to really grasp the information that is available here.
2. Career One Stop – One Stop Shopping for Career Information
Remember all that slicing, dicing, and disseminating of the BLS Wage Survey Data? The US Department of Labor takes the BLS data and feeds it into this Career Comparison Site. This site is definitely more user friendly than the BLS site and provides a broad overview of average wages across the country for any profession.This site is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, and provides a host of resources, in addition to wage statistics, that help people find employment.
Pros: Accessible. Easy to Use. The most helpful of the searches offered on this site is the search that allows you to drill down to see the national, state and metropolitan wage statistics all in one screen. For an example of this search, click here.
Cons: Since this tool is designed to help people decide what career they want to pursue, it has a lot of information that is irrelevant for someone who is already a therapist. This site paints a picture of therapy career options with very broad, general strokes.
Tools Based on User Surveys –
Warning: You have to complete a survey to get your free salary report.
3. Payscale.com – Great user experience – but time consuming.
Of all the websites, Payscale definitely has the most user-friendly interface. It is simple to figure out how to use and does not have distracting ads on the side. However, since Payscale bases their results on user surveys from their site, they require you to answer a lot of questions before you get to see what you came for: your wage comparison! When the results finally appear, they show the median salary for your location along with a great visual representation of how your pay compares in your location to the median pay of the nation, and other cities throughout the country. Their great presentation makes up for the inconvenience of their survey. Pay Scale makes their money by selling compensation packages, so be prepared for tons of marketing emails, unless you opt out right away.
Pros: Enjoyable to use
Cons: Relentless marketing after you complete their surveys unless you figure out how to opt out.
4. Salary Expert – No Frills website. Simple service. Easy to use from a desktop computer.
Salary Expert is part of the Economic Research Institute, which has a solid reputation for providing compensation, benefits, and Human Resource research for private and public organizations since 1987. ERI sells subscriptions to its research database. With over 10,000 corporate and consulting subscribers, they don’t need to clutter their site with advertising or other marketing offers. Their process is very similar to payscale.com, except they have a slightly shorter survey to complete in order find out your salary. This site is not as visually pleasing as payscale.com, but the information is comparable, and slightly more straightforward.
Pros: Straight forward survey and salary report. No extra advertising or follow up email marketing.
Cons: Outdated website. Not mobile friendly.
Tools Based on Both User Surveys and BLS Data
5. Salary.com – Accurate, Tons of articles and information, no need to complete a survey.
Salary.com offers a unique dataset, in that it combines user data with BLS data, making it most one of the most accurate of any of the resources. Their website is huge, with an overwhelming amount of content, making it much harder to navigate than other sites. However, once you figure out what you want on the site, it is extremely helpful and has great articles. We’ve chosen to partner with Salary.com and host one of their salary calculators on our website because we believe they are reliable and because they don’t make you complete a survey to get your compensation comparison report. PT Solutions’ Salary Wizard enables you to find your salary without going to their website.
Pros: We think it’s the best of both worlds.
Cons: Navigating their huge website is difficult. Save yourself a headache and use our short cut.
PT Solutions wants to help you find the right job, in the right area, and we know that salary can be an important factor. Let us help you find a great job! Contact one of our Employment Specialists today.