How to find out what you can expect to earn in most jobs in the US

Susanna Kahr

We’ve all been there, finally gotten into the final negotiations for a new job, or a pay rise, only to come out with less than we deserve. To make sure that this doesn’t happen to you again, we’ve created a list of things you can do to 1) work out how much you’re worth 2) find out which salary range you can ask for, and 3) get the salary you want and deserve. Are you ready? Let’s go! 

Find out how much you’re worth

1. Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook

The first thing you need to do before you apply for a job or walk into any negotiations is to find out exactly how much you’re worth. This is actually easier than it sounds as there are a number of great resources you can use. The first port of call should be the Occupational Outlook Handbook because it contains salary figures for all kinds of jobs and even provides salary averages for each state and metropolitan area, so you can also find out where you can get the best possible salary for your job! 

2. Talk to you colleagues

You should also ask any of your colleagues who work in the same field as you about the salary range they think is suitable for you and your level of experience. Your colleagues are likely to have some very interesting insights for you and may even push you to ask for more in your current job. One thing’s for sure, talking about salary is about to become way more acceptable and far less taboo! 

3. Consult professional organizations

You might also want to think about consulting relevant professional organizations to inquire about any salary surveys that have been conducted in your field. This will help you to arm yourself with the most up to date information about salaries in your chosen field so you can make sure you have a strong position in any negotiation.  

4. Check in with your school’s career office

If you’ve not yet landed your first job and are graduating soon, then you should check in with your school’s career office. Ask them about any information they have from the National Association of Colleges and Employers regarding entry-level salaries for college graduates. You can then use this information to decide what kind of entry salary you should ask for. 

“They provide a great retirement plan, a fair wage, good benefits and they are family friendly.” – anonymous employer review at Parkview Health

Find out what the minimum wage is for your job in your state, city or county.

You should also make note of the minimum wage rate, which is the lowest hourly pay that can be given to workers, period. FYI – the federal minimum wage in 2020 is $7.25 per hour, but some states, cities and counties have a higher minimum wage, so make sure that you find out what the minimum wage is for your job in your state, city or county. The minimum wage rate, otherwise known as the pay floor, is determined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and there is a minimum wage for employees in both private and public sectors. Under the FLSA, non-exempt employees must be paid the minimum wage or higher, so if an employer offers you less, then it’s likely that they’re breaking the law! 

“I get paid slightly above minimum wage, because I have more responsibility and skill. When the minimum wage increases, my wage increases the same percentage.” – anonymous employer review at Staples

Find out which salary range you can ask for

If you’re not sure about asking for a specific number, then a salary range is a great place to start. A salary range includes a low, mid-point, and maximum salary for a specific job. For you, as a job seeker, a salary range is the amount of compensation that you’re willing to accept for a specific position. With this in mind, it’s important for you to think about the salary range that is acceptable for you. 

You’ve probably encountered salary ranges before, as employers often ask for a salary range when you apply for a job. So, if you’re asked for your salary requirements, you can reply by saying something like “in the $25,000 – $35,000 range” for example. 

Providing a salary range is a great way to give yourself a good amount of flexibility, both in being considered for the job and in negotiating your salary. Just make sure that when you set a salary range, set the lowest end of the spectrum at a point that will cover all your expenses. The last thing you want to do is accept a job at the very low end of your salary range only to discover that you can’t pay your bills!

“Figuring out a fair wage is a challenge in any business, but here columnists share how to keep compensation fair and productive.” – anonymous employer review at Microsoft

Get to know which factors can help you to ask for more

There are a number of factors which can help you to ask for more, i.e. set the lower end of your salary range higher so it’s worth getting to know what these are. 

1. Length of time you have worked in a related area

The length of time you have worked in a related area and industry will often have a big influence on whether a potential employer will make an offer at the lower, middle, or higher end of a salary range. So, before you apply for a job or enter into negotiations be sure to work out exactly how many years’ worth of experience you have in your chosen field.

2. Reference to your previous job

If you can demonstrate that you have added a lot of value to your previous employers then you can get a higher offer. Take some time to work out what the bottom line was in your previous employment situations. Whether it was sales, quality control, safety, cost control, customer satisfaction, the volume of work, etc. if you can reference how you impacted the bottom line in your previous jobs above and beyond normal expectations then you’re onto a winner. 

3. Check if your job is in demand

If there is a relative lack of qualified workers in your field then this is a surefire way to get a higher offer. Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook to find out if your job is listed as a job that is in demand. 

4. Check your position

If the HR or recruitment team came to you first, instead of you going to them, then you’ll be in a much stronger position to push for a higher salary. Make sure to use this to your advantage.

5. Share your recommendation letter

While you still have your current job, or if you’ve recently completed an internship or voluntary position, then ask your employer to write a recommendation for you. Candidates who are highly recommended by previous employers are often viewed as more worthy of placement into the upper end of a salary range, so the more and the better recommendations you have the more you’ll be able to push for a higher salary.

“I make a fair wage and have good benefits.” – anonymous employer review at State of Ohio

Use kununu’s new Salary Transparency feature

kununu, as one of the world’s largest employer rating platforms and the only professional provider specializing in exclusive employer and workplace insights has recently released a new feature that offers advanced salary information. kununu’s Salary Transparency includes more than 370,000 salary data points from over 15,000 companies and has been integrated into every company page on our site, so you can get access to exclusive salary ranges and reviews at the click of a button. So, why don’t you share your salary with us today, every review will help other jobseekers like you to find and secure the best possible paycheck for them! 



Here at kununu, we have 3,898,626 authentic company reviews on personal experience, salary, company climate, and application processes for 929,442 companies. Right now, we’re opening up the conversation surrounding salary, and we need your help, so please submit a review today and help us make the world of work more transparent! 


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