As the new day dawns, you’ve resolved to make more money — either at your current job or by finding a new one. And you have a sneaking suspicion one of your first steps is to make a salary comparison to see how yours compares with other accounting and finance positions.
This isn’t lunacy, with unemployment rates for financial occupations below the national average. In fact, degreed financial professionals with specialized skills frequently receive multiple offers and counteroffers.
The issue, then, may not be whether you’re marketable (especially if you’re in an in-demand specialty), but rather knowing how high you can realistically push your salary desires.
Here are five tools for salary comparison to help you benchmark where you stand in today’s marketplace:
1. Reading salary guides
Many industry organizations as well as state and federal agencies publish online salary ranges each year for a variety of positions. Of these, Robert Half's Salary Guide is a comprehensive and authoritative source for accounting and finance professionals. It includes salary midpoints for more than 190 accounting and finance positions, and customized wage ranges for more than 135 cities.
In addition, the Salary Guide gives you insider information on industry trends that influence hiring and the hiring outlooks for public accounting, corporate accounting and financial services.
2. Using online salary calculators
The Salary Center contains a Salary Calculator that allows you to fine-tune listed salary ranges to your geographical area. It provides quick, at-your-fingertips access to the latest salary information for your location.
3. Researching salaries on job boards
You can also make a salary comparison on job boards, such as monster.com and indeed.com. Besides allowing you to search for jobs, many of these boards also have search features to help you find the prevailing pay rate for the kind of work you do.
4. Talking to peers in your profession and industry
Asking someone to divulge his salary is clearly not appropriate at most networking events where you are attempting to establish new relationships. That’s true as well for people you’ve known for years. But it doesn’t mean you can’t gather some very useful information by talking with your contacts in generalities about salary levels in your profession and industry. Anecdotal evidence will round out your other research efforts.
5. Talking to a staffing professional
For a personalized salary comparison and targeted information, there’s nothing better than contacting a reputable staffing firm that specializes in accounting and finance. The staffing professionals from the best of these services know their markets and the latest salary trends. And if you’re job hunting, they can get you in touch with unadvertised openings through their large local and global networks.
Editor's note: This post was published in 2014 and was updated recently to reflect current information.