How to determine your salary range accurately

Ever wonder what range of salary you should be asking for? You can always ballpark an idea of it, but isn’t it better if you can get an actual set of numbers to work with?

Enter my process for figuring this out!

BASIC STEPS TO FIGURE OUT YOUR SALARY:

  1. Collect the data of all the salaries for job descriptions that match what you do
  2. Get the average of these salaries
  3. Find the range using standard variance

It’s not as hard as it sounds, especially if you have Excel.

COLLECT THE DATA OF ALL THE SALARIES FOR YOUR JOB DESCRIPTION

This one is the most time intensive task of all. You need to go to career sites like Monster, Workopolis and Payscale to get an idea of what your job description would be paid, based on experience and so on.

But you know what is THE best site of all time? GlassDoor.com.

Take what they write with a grain of salt (some people might exaggerate what they make or take other factors into consideration including benefits as part of ‘salary’), but it’s pretty accurate.

This task is pretty difficult because you may not come across any job offers that even give you an idea of what the salary would be!

No matter, ask around, grab as many answers as you can, and put them all into a list.

FIND THE AVERAGE OF THESE SALARIES

Now you can figure out the average of all this salary info.

Add up all the salary figures and divide it by the number of jobs that gave salaries.

Example: You have found 5 jobs at varying salaries.

  • Job 1 — $23,500
  • Job 2 — $22,800
  • Job 3 — $30,000
  • Job 4 — $29,000
  • Job 5 — $20,000

Now for the math:

$23,500 + $22,800 + $30,000 + $29,000 + $20,000

5 <– for the # of jobs

Average Salary Answer: $25,060

But just knowing the average isn’t enough because you have to take into account the gaps between the salaries of each job, otherwise fancily known as variances or ‘standard deviation’.

FIND THE RANGE FOR THESE SALARIES

Now that you have the average salary of $25,060, pop these numbers into Excel (or use OpenOffice.org).

The Excel formula is:

=STDEVP(A1:A5)

  • With A1:A5 referring to the 5 job salary cell numbers, depending on where you typed them in Excel
  • I also use STDEVP rather than STDEV as the formula because it gives a more precise answer taking into account that these are all the numbers you have
  • You can read about STDEVP here

Standard Deviation Answer: $3822.88

You will end up with $3822.88 as your variance, or the average gaps between the salary numbers

Now add the average salary you figured out in step 2, plus and minus the variance from step 3 to find the range!

BOTTOM of your range: $25,060 - $3822.88 = $21,237.12

TOP of your range: $25,060 + $3822.88 = $28,882.88

Wasn’t that simple?

Your salary range is $21,237.12 to $28,882.88.

You could have probably also eyeballed it and came up with the same answer, but having precise numbers is nice.

Good luck!

Related Posts

Chart: Federal versus Private Sector Salary Figures
 
Interviewing: At the end of an interview (Part. 4)
 
Top 10 Least Stressful Jobs
 
Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs
 
When your skills don’t seem to be in demand any longer and past salaries are not a factor
 
FB’s Negotiation – Part 4
 

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.