Glossary of Compensation Terms

Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Definitions

NAICS Industry and Sub-industry lists

Salary Aging Calculator

Position Level Calculator

Finding Salary Market Data Using Salary Finder

Grade A Job: The Nine Point-Factor Job Analysis Explained

Introduction to Blended Jobs

Additional Training Resources:

How to Create a Demographic Profile
Demographic Profile Checklist

How to Age Salary Data

Aging Salary Data Checklist

How to Create Groups in My Jobs

Creating Groups Checklist

How to Use Grade A Job

Salary Finder Data Overview

Salary data

BLR Salary Finder data is updated twice annually, in February and in August. It includes employment and wage estimates for over 800 occupational job families, including the number of jobs in certain occupations, and estimates of the wages paid to them. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual States, and for metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), metropolitan divisions, and non-metropolitan areas.

The data includes both industry-specific and cross-industry estimates. Industry-specific estimates are calculated with data collected from establishments in one particular industry. Since different industries employ people in different occupations, the occupations in the staffing pattern for a particular industry will not be the same as the occupations in the staffing pattern for another industry. Cross-industry estimates are calculated with data collected from establishments in all the industries for which a particular occupation is reported. Not every occupation is reported in every industry.

The data represents 586 metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas, including 380 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and 34 metropolitan divisions, which make up 11 of the MSAs. Please note, however, that not all areas have information for all occupations.

The data represents wages and salaries only, and does not include non-production bonuses or employer costs of non-wage benefits, such as health insurance or employer contributions to retirement plans. Wages are straight-time, gross pay, exclusive of premium pay.

The sum of the metropolitan areas may differ from statewide employment due to rounding or the totals include data items that are not released separately due to confidentiality and quality reasons. Also, many States include metropolitan areas that cross State lines. These cross-State metropolitan area estimates include data from each State, which should not be included in a total for a single State. A small number of establishments indicate the State in which their employees are located, but do not indicate the specific metropolitan or non-metropolitan area in which they are located. Data for these establishments are used in the calculation of the statewide estimates, but are not included in the estimates of any individual area.

If there is no data for a percentile or if n/a is in its place, it means that there is no data available to us or that the data that is available is unreliable. (The data is so out of line with the rest of the data we couldn't use it because it would skew the "mean" to an unrealistic level.) For example, there may not be enough incumbents for that percentile or the calculated number skewed too close to the next percentile. BLS runs algorithms that detect the validity of the data. If the "validity factor" goes above a predetermined level they don't report the number.


OES program—the only comprehensive source of regularly produced occupational employment and wage rate information for the U.S. economy, as well as States, the District of Columbia, and all metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas in each State.

The OES survey is a semi-annual mail survey of non-farm establishments. The sampling frame (the list from which establishments to be surveyed are selected) is derived from the list of establishments maintained by State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) for unemployment insurance purposes.

OES wage data are used to determine salary ranges for different occupations in different locations and in different industries. Additionally, OES data are used to establish the fixed employment weights for the Employment Cost Index and in the calculation of occupational rates for the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. OES wage data are used by academic and government researchers to study labor markets, wage and employment trends, and is frequently cited as the most popular labor market information program within States.

The OES program reduces sampling error by taking advantage of a full three years of data, covering 1.2 million establishments and about 62 percent of the employment in the United States. This feature is particularly important in improving the reliability of estimates for detailed occupations in small geographical areas. Combining multiple years of data is also necessary to obtain full coverage of the largest establishments.

OES wage data are not used to obtain prevailing wages for foreign labor certification or federal contracts.

The Foreign Labor Certification (FLC) program is administered by the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, and covers foreign workers who are admitted to the U.S. under H1-B and other types of visas. Although OES data are used as an input in calculating FLC prevailing wages, FLC prevailing wage data are not identical to the OES wage estimates. Employers who need prevailing wages for the purpose of foreign labor certification should use the FLC Online Wage Library instead of OES data. More information about the Foreign Labor Certification program is available from the FLC home page.

The Davis Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) cover federal, District of Columbia, or federally assisted construction contracts. The McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act applies to federal and District of Columbia service contracts. Both programs are administered by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. Prevailing wage determinations for contracts subject to DBRA or SCA should be obtained using the Wage Determinations Online program. More details about the Davis Bacon and Related Acts are available from the DBRA home page; additional information about the Service Contract Act can be found on the SCA website.

Job titles

The BLR Salary Finder includes employment and wage estimates for over 800 occupational job families, representing over 50,000 job titles. Job titles vary from organization to organization, with an accountant in one organization titled as accounting supervisor in another. Both may have similar duties and responsibilities, though, as well as skills and attributes so can be grouped into a single job family.

Salary Data vs. Rate Range in Salary Finder

All of the jobs in the BLR database have been assigned a grade within one of the three job families in the BLR Job Grade System. The data shown on the Rate Range panel indicates the grade and the min/mid/max of the grade assigned to the selected position.

The data shown on the Salary Data panel is OES survey data for the selected job. It indicates the number of incumbents for that position in the survey; the mean of all the survey data; and the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentile data for that position. The 10th percentile indicates that 10% of the incumbents in the survey (for that demographic element) are below or at that amount. The 25th percentile is also known as the first quartile (Q1), the 50th percentile as the median or second quartile (Q2), and the 75th percentile as the third quartile (Q3).

Starting Rate Calculator

The data shown in the lower-left grid is the 25th to 75th percentiles of the “average” row for the position in the Salary Data panel in Salary Finder (specific to subscriber’s demographic profile). The data in the lower-right grid is the mid to max of the “average” row for the position in the Rate Range panel in Salary Finder.

The grid cell highlighted in blue shows the intersection of the experience level and skills/abilities level selected by the user. This becomes the “market” for the position. You can adjust the market up or down according to your organization’s compensation philosophy by entering a percent in the gray boxes in the row labeled Market Factors in the Below Market and Above Market columns in the top-center grid.

The drop-downs for experience and skills/abilities levels utilize subjective terms rather than defined “years” to allow you to adhere to your own standards of experience and competency for individual positions or the levels within your organization.

Compa-ratio indicates the percentage of the market rate to the midpoint of the salary range.

Range Penetration indicates the level of the market rate compared to the maximum of the pay range.

Aging Salary Data allows you to adjust the displayed rates from their effective date (shown in Salary Finder) to the current date. Enter the annual rate of increase as a percent and click the "Age Data" button. To clear, click “Reset Data.”

Market Position indicates whether your organization leads, lags, or lead-lags the job market in terms of pay.


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