Are you paid what you deserve? How would you know? Online tools offer more than a hint of the salary your skills and job title should command. Knowledge is power in this case.
Comparing your salary. Wage information sliced and diced in sometimes-bewildering detail is available at the site of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Start at this page and choose among the options for studying national compensation data, wages by area and occupation, or earnings by demographics or industry. The geographical information should reveal, for example, which area of the country pays best for your skills. Then, the bureau's equally exhaustive pages on inflation and prices - and the differences in living costs from place to place - can tell you whether relocating is worthwhile.
Are you above average? Forbes writer Jacquelyn Smith says that after a bit of online research into the pay range for your job, you should decide honestly if your experience, education, location, work reputation, and other factors put you above or below the average pay. Close-to-home details, such as what your coworkers earn, can be hard to come by. You have to be careful in choosing whom to talk to and in knowing what you can afford to reveal. One of Smith's sources suggests using social media groups to ask general questions about what people in your job category are paid.
Right place, right time. A thumbnail look at the likely pay for any given job category in any specific city, state, or zip code is available at the salary-search page of the Indeed.com job site. The numbers are median pay, and are extracted from job listings that tell you what employers have offered to pay over the last 12 months. You can compare the wage figures from multiple locations and tailor a search based on keywords that don't have to conform to formal job titles.
Researching the salary you are likely to command is one step toward getting the pay you think you deserve. Before negotiating start pay or a raise, check out this page on salary-negotiation tactics. The information is part of About.com's extensive material on job hunting and employment.
Contact Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @ReidKan on Twitter.