What Am I Worth at Work? | Careers

Barbara Merkley
Smiling female business owners in discussion at workstation in office

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Knowing your worth is the first step to getting the salary you deserve. Whether you’re negotiating for a promotion or applying for your first job out of college, you should have a clear idea of your market value before having a conversation with an employer about compensation.

Historically, at least in the workplace, salary information was something to keep hush-hush, but times are changing. Now, with various salary calculators available online, you can easily figure out what you should be making compared to your colleagues or other professionals in the same role.

10 Best Salary Calculators to Help You Know Your Worth

One of the simplest ways to gauge your value within your industry is by using a salary calculator. Note that salary calculators are not the same as paycheck calculators. Salary calculators such as Glassdoor’s help you understand how much you can earn depending on your location, experience, education level and other data. Paycheck calculators typically show your income after federal, state and local taxes.

Here are the top 10 salary tools to help you know your worth within the job market:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics
  • Glassdoor
  • Salary.com
  • PayScale
  • Comparably
  • O*Net OnLine
  • Monster
  • The Salary Project
  • Salary Expert
  • Indeed

Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics

Data source: Employer reports

The Federal Occupational Employment Statistics program creates wage estimate data for more than 800 occupations at the national, state and city level. They’re based on the results of a government survey of employers administered every two years, which means the data prioritizes accuracy over timeliness. This source informs the U.S. News Best Jobs rankings.

Their Career One Stop Salary Finder and Occupation Profile tools allow users to search for salary information by occupation. With these tools, you can see how much others in the same role are making in your area and whether you’ve been settling for less than what you deserve.

Glassdoor

Data source: Employee reporting

Glassdoor.com is best known for its company profile pages, which allow employees to anonymously post qualitative reviews about office culture, benefits and hiring interviews. Profiles also contain salary ranges for different job titles. This data is self-reported by employees, and employers cannot change it.

Glassdoor’s salary calculator called Know Your Worth provides users with a personalized market value estimation based on information such as years of experience, current base pay and geographic location. Besides base pay, Glassdoor provides information on how much additional pay, including bonuses and benefits, you should be earning. For access to additional insights, however, you must create a free Glassdoor account and answer a few questions about your job.

Glassdoor calculates a base salary estimate using algorithms that learn from data offered by employees and third-party sources. Employers can elect to contact Glassdoor to provide more accurate information, and if they do, the posted salary will be labeled “employer-provided.”

Salary.com

Data source: Employer reports

Salary.com sends surveys to thousands of employers in the U.S. and worldwide to collect compensation data, which it sells to companies. It also uses this data to provide information on more than 4,500 job titles and create free salary-range reports for users.

With its Salary Wizard tool, you can start your salary comparison by location, industry, benefits and other factors by entering your job title. You can further customize your free report by toggling factors such as performance, education, years of experience and location to see how they affect your worth in the job market.

If you need more personalized insights, Salary.com charges between $29.95 and $79.95 to generate a detailed report to help you negotiate your pay with confidence.

PayScale

Data source: Employee reports

PayScale.com takes a crowdsourced approach to collect salary-range data, asking users to fill out detailed surveys with information about their current salaries, education credentials, years of professional experience, management responsibilities and noncash benefits. The answers workers provide during each section of the survey affect which questions they’ll see next.

PayScale’s salary calculator is straightforward: All you have to do is enter your job title and location, and it’ll show you how you compare to people who live in the same area and are in the same role as you are. If you’d like a more personalized salary report, you have to take a survey, so PayScale can properly assess the fairness of your current wage or new salary offer. If you opt out of the survey, you can still search the website for more generic salary information based on job title, company name or degree earned.

Comparably

Data source: Employee reports

Comparably is a salary benchmarking platform that allows former and current employees of a company to anonymously share their salaries, offering insights into compensation trends and helping you gauge what others in similar positions are earning. You can compare salary information by job title, experience, ethnicity, gender, city and education, allowing you to see how your salary stacks up against others in similar roles.

Beyond just salary data, Comparably also provides valuable information on the quality of life and monthly costs for rent in different cities, so you know what percentage of your monthly take-home pay goes toward housing. You may have to register for a free account to access these additional options.

O*Net OnLine

Data source: Survey information

Consider using O*NET OnLine to help you determine your worth in the job market, says Lisa Dupras, a career coach who has worked in human resources and specifically as a compensation analyst. It presents formally gathered and statistically validated information from businesses that are required to report job survey information to the U.S. government.

“O*Net OnLine’s salary information from companies is clean and statistically significant,” she says. “Plus, the surveys are done annually, so the data is recent.” Besides base salary information, O*Net OnLine also provides helpful information on benefits, 10-year job outlooks and integration with standardized career testing tools.

Monster

Data source: Employee reports

Monster.com not only offers a vast array of job postings but also provides a salary calculator that calculates your estimated market value. All you need to do is enter your job type and location, then the calculator will present you with a graph showing how your estimated salary compares to the national average wage for that job. Although Monster.com’s salary calculator is simple to use, it does not consider your skill level, experience or education when estimating your worth.

The Salary Project

Data source: Employee reports

The Salary Project by Career Contessa has a database of over 60,000 salaries from women worldwide, allowing you to see exactly how much women working in your city, state, role or industry are making.

First, The Salary Project will ask you to complete a 10-question survey about your own experience and salary. Then, you’ll receive a personalized salary report showing how your salary compares to other women who have also submitted their information through the survey. You must first create an account with Career Contessa to access this personalized report at any time.

Salary Expert

Data source: Employer and employee reports

Similar to PayScale, SalaryExpert’s salary estimate calculator helps you gauge your worth in the job market by comparing your information to its salary database, which includes over 30 years of compensation data collected by the Economic Research Institute.

After submitting your information using SalaryExpert’s wage calculator, you will receive a report showing the salary someone in your city with the same experience level may receive. You can also use the tool to research salaries for different professions.

Indeed

Data source: Employee reports

Indeed’s salary tool compares your pay with millions of salaries in their database, so you know where you stand in the current job market.

Here’s how to use the salary calculator: Enter your job title, company name, location, experience level and pay. You’ll see a graph demonstrating what others in your role and city generally earn. Indeed will also calculate what percentage above or below average your pay is in your location.

From there, you can explore other pages on salaries to see a less location-specific view, including the average wage, such as bonuses and noncash benefits, for that role in the United States. You can also see the most highly compensated skills in your field, so you can identify areas to upskill and make yourself more competitive in your industry.

What to Be Aware of When Using a Salary Calculator

Here’s what you should be aware of when using salary calculators to determine your worth in the job market.

Consider Factors Other Than the Base Salary

“When people are trying to deem what is the market rate for what they do, they often look to the highest of the range and assume that’s what they should ask for,” says Brianna Rooney, expert recruiter and CEO of recruitment firm TalentPerch. She reminds job seekers, however, that there are many other factors to consider when determining your worth, such as the following:

  • What industry are you in? 
  • How large is the company and is it profitable? 
  • Is the company public or private? 
  • Do you get equity or a bonus? 
  • What are the perks, benefits and stipends?
  • How is the work-life balance and the vacation policy? 
  • What learning and development programs does the company offer?

“Total comp varies significantly depending on the organization, and it’s not black and white when looking at these salary calculators,” she says. So, instead of quoting a figure based on the salary calculator, evaluate the bigger picture so you can ask for a reasonable compensation package that reflects your true value.

Location Can Make a Big Difference

“The cost of living and job market conditions can vary significantly between regions, cities and countries,” says Lauren Winans, CEO and principal HR consultant for Next Level Benefits, an HR consulting firm. “When using a salary calculator, make sure to input the correct location information to account for these differences.”

For example, an $80,000 salary may be competitive in Kentucky, but it might not be enough to make ends meet in cities like Los Angeles due to higher housing costs, taxes and overall expenses.

Watch for Statistically Insignificant Results and Unreliable Self-Reported Data 

Salary calculators that gather information from current or former employees can lead to unreliable data.

As Dupras points out, employees may not know their exact salaries or could provide inaccurate information. Plus, relying on user-reported data can result in small sample sizes, leading to statistically insignificant results.

Dupras found that when comparing Glassdoor and Salary.com for an IT project manager, there was a $20,000 difference in the reported average salary between the two tools. So, while salary calculators can provide valuable insight, remember to consider the limitations of the data and use the information as a starting point rather than a definitive answer.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For What You’re Worth 

Don’t make the mistake of undervaluing your skills and settling for less than what you deserve. Before heading into your job interview or asking your boss for a promotion, research and use salary calculators to help determine what you should be earning. Plus, asking for what you’re worth not only benefits you but also sets a precedent for fair compensation in the workplace. So, don’t sell yourself short – know your worth and be willing to ask for it.

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