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Salary Information

How to find reliable salary information.

Classification Systems

The U.S. government uses numerical systems to make sense of the hundreds of occupations and industries that exist. They are:


International Salary Information

Looking for salary information for a job outside the U.S.? Try searching the web and limiting results to websites from the relevant country. Using Google, you can do this by adding Google's site: operator along with a country's domain extension. For example, will return Canadian websites, and will return United Kingdom websites.

To find accountant salaries in Canada, for example, you could search (salary OR wage OR compensation) accountant This kind of search may lead you to government-provided salary information similar to the U.S. OEWS, or it may lead you to commercial websites of varying data quality, but it's a good strategy to employ.

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Basic Salary Information

The U.S. government provides a wealth of information about hundreds of occupations, including reliable salary data.

For very basic salary information, you can try the Career One Stop website, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Digging Deeper: Government Sources for Salary Information

The U.S. Government uses numerical codes to classify and organize information about occupations and industries. These classification systems are called Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) and North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS). Links to these systems are in the left column of this page.

To effectively find detailed salary data using government sources, first find the relevant SOC code for your occupation. This code is the key to searching government salary data for over 800 occupations contained in the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS). OEWS provides salary data at the nationalstate, and metropolitan area levels. You can search for industry-specific salary information by finding a NAICS code and combining it with your SOC code.

For example, an accountant, SOC 13-2011, interviewing with an oil company, may want salary information for accountants working in NAICS 211000, the "Oil and Gas Extraction" industry. Accountants working in other industries may make significantly more or less; industry-specific salary searching is the only way to find out. Industry salary data is only available at the national level.

State agencies also provide state-specific data. In Alaska, that agency is the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Other Web Resources for Salary Information

Many of these websites are full of ads and links to purchase reports; remember that library information and government data are free. These websites provide data of varying quality and currency, but you can compare how the information on these sites compares with data from OEWS and state agencies. 

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Professional Associations, Trade Publications, and Business Literature

To search for salary information in trade and business publications, try searching for the occupation name along with the terms salary, wage, compensation, etc., which you can search simultaneously as (salary OR wage OR compensation). Try the Quick Search box on the library home page or a subject-specific database that contains publications relevant for your occupation.

Why try this? Professional associations often perform salary surveys, and these surveys may be available on association websites or in trade publications. General business articles may refer to salary sources within the text of articles, and you can then follow up and look for that source.

To find a professional association, try searching the web for the occupation name along with the terms association, organization, union, etc. You can also consult this book to find an association: