Sunday, May 09, 2010

How does your pay stack up against the salary guides?

I recently compared my pay with the salaries listed in three different salary guides put out by national recruiting firms. All three of the guides group salaries according to job title, geographic location and company size. I knew my salary was on the low side, but I was shocked to see it was substantially lower than the salaries listed in all three guides.

I asked my company’s HR Manager for her opinion on the validity of salary guides. She told me I had to use a guide specific to our industry. She let me borrow hers which is put out by our industry’s association. According to this guide, I am still underpaid, but once you factor in my pay-cut it wasn’t as far off as the recruiter guides. (I also noticed our HR Manager’s pay is substantially higher than what is listed in this guide.)

I decided to get a second opinion.

I asked my friend who is a recruiter. She said she sees Accountant salaries that line up pretty close to the guides and others that are way off, but many factors are involved. Publicly traded and global companies pay more. Employees that are CPA’s or have their masters and those with public accounting experience (preferably with the big 4) make more than those who don’t.

What about my salary?
She thinks I am underpaid.

How does your pay stack up against the salary guides?


  1. hey here!

    Love your blog,

    tagged you for an award in my new post! come over and check it out.


  2. Anonymous10:38 AM


    I wanted to get in touch with you, do you have an email I can reach you at?


  3. I can be reached at

  4. I've been meaning to get i touch with you about this. Pay has been my biggest issue with my current position. Last year, I was given additional duties and am now able to make decisions that impact the company's bottom line. I finished my Master's degree and now have an MBA. When I look at salary guides put out by one professional organization and one to a recruiting firm, I am grossly underpaid - $25,000 underpaid. I brought this fact up to my boss and tried to negotiate a salary increase; it is six months later, and he is avoiding all further discussions. We are getting ready for year-end performance reviews. Now that I officially passed all four CMA exams and am a CMA and I received a new salary guide from the professional organization, I will be having this discussion again. And if he doesn't fork over the dough, then in October, when I am fully vested, I'll be walking.

    My boss tried to give me the party line about not following salary guides put out by "unsanctioned" parties and how untrustworthy they were. I don't buy it. There is a reason why they put out the salary guides, so that employees like you and me can have a fair chance when it comes to salary negotiations. For HR to state that we can't use them removes the fair fight.

    (Can you tell this is an area that has me most upset?!)

  5. Michelle,
    I knew there had to be others out there whose pay was substantially less than the guides. Companies think they can get away with underpaying employees because they think we don’t have anywhere to go and are happy to just have a job. A friend of mine who is the VP of Cash Management at a local bank tells me she’s seen growth and hiring in both the food brokerage business and distribution. So companies are hiring we just have to look harder. I’m glad to see you’re not going to sit back and take it. Also, it’s a smart move to wait until you’re vested what’s a couple more months. Good luck and keep me informed how it goes. I plan on resurrecting my own job search after my vacation later this summer.

  6. One of the reasons why I am in my current mess is that my boss discovered I was getting ready to visit a recruiter and gave me more responsibility. He did this the same year there was a salary freeze in place, so he "couldn't" give me a raise at the same time. This past January, when the raise information went out, he thought I should be satisfied with a 3.5% increase. I wasn't, and I literally shocked him into silence by my comments and discussion as to why I was worth so much more. He knows that I am not afraid to walk away, although I'm guessing that because my husband now works for the same company, he assumes I am less inclined to find another job. He will be surprised in October!