By Carol Nibley

Several years ago, I was asked to create a salary structure for a growing start up. The founders had earned the same small salary during the early years, and the company was now successful enough to pay market wages. The concern was how to compensate each of the founders fairly. Should they continue to receive the same salaries, or should they be paid according to the market value of their roles? Opinions varied among the group, and I was retained to formulate a solution.

Recently, another company asked me to analyze some of the key positions held by employees in multiple states to determine if a geographic wage differential was appropriate.

Some employees complain that online salary data show they are being underpaid for their work, and they ask for a raise.

You may be tempted to use a salary survey could to provide a simple answer to each of the foregoing challenges. However, long before using any salary data, you’ll find that analyzing the components of a job is essential. Here are some basic questions to include in your analysis:

Once a job is analyzed, you are able to benchmark the position to get salary data. Keep in mind that each company will have positions unique to its location or industry. It’s important to focus on the key responsibilities and necessary skills when trying to match a position to the survey positions. Don’t rely on position title alone when benchmarking.

Several sources of salary data are available. Some are free; others can range from a few hundred dollars to much more. Large corporations purchase salary data from multiple sources to ensure accuracy for as many positions as they can closely benchmark.

To obtain a list of free and for-hire surveys for small business budgets, feel free to contact me at


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