Illustration for the article titled Why Not Rely on Glassdoor's Salary EstimatesPhoto: NYC Russ (Shutterstock)

For anyone curious about the salary of a new gig, Glassdoor is the place to go, as the site has crowdsourcing salaries for various positions at literally thousands of companies. When you take Glassdoor’s salaries at face value, you have a pretty good indication of what that potential job might be paying for. Correct?

Maybe not. Because there is a glass door Salary numbers are compiled With a combination of self-reported employee salaries and AI-generated algorithms combing through millions of data points, a major constraint hovers over most, if not all, of the pay slips presented on the website. (In rarer cases, companies offer salary ranges themselves, although this information is usually closely guarded.)

But without a big, trusted brand name, how can you research what to expect in a newly found and enticing job? There are other tools out there, and just because they don’t have the sleek interface of a well-funded tech site doesn’t mean they aren’t worth your time.

Illustration for the article titled Why Not Rely on Glassdoor's Salary Estimates

How do Glassdoor salaries work?

As mentioned earlier, Glassdoor works with the honor system. This means that former and / or current employees offer their salaries on their own initiative. This does not mean that these employees lied or that the numbers they reported are inaccurate. However, the salaries, which were correct at the time of reporting, could have changed drastically at the beginning of your research.

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Glassdoor’s trust in machine learning to generate the large salary ranges for various jobs that you see below the listings also makes it difficult to get a real understanding of the results. The company is pretty open about this and writes in its FAQ section:

Glassdoor also reminds you that salary estimates are estimates. They are not a guarantee of actual salaries and are not necessarily approved by employers. The purpose of salary estimates is to use predictive data science to provide job seekers with a likely salary range so they can make more informed job decisions and help employers recruit informed, quality candidates. For this reason, Glassdoor does not guarantee the accuracy of the estimates.

The salaries are constantly changing

In addition, since sharing salary information is still a taboo in the US and companies are reluctant to post it publicly, it is rare for companies to list their information on Glassdoor. If so, you will find that Glassdoor displays “Employer Est” when providing salary information by employers. on job offers ” the company says.

Salaries are constantly changing due to inflation, and the reported salary you are viewing may be lower (or higher) than what you are prepared for as location is an important factor in calculating your salary grade. Someone in Davenport, Iowa, doesn’t get paid as much as a colleague who does the same job in Chicago, for example, because the cost of living is higher in the bigger city.

In addition, salaries can vary widely within the same job title. Occasionally, people stay in a single job for several years without receiving a promotion but still receive salary increases, whether through earnings or annual company increases. Job titles are also often not indicative of anything specific, which means that two people with the same title can have very different roles and salary levels in different companies.

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Peers may have the same role on paper, but that doesn’t mean they actually have the same job. Organizations may use generic terms such as “Marketing Manager” or “Senior Marketing Strategist,” but their hierarchies may assign different seniority to these titles.

A tip: at larger companies, the payrolls are often a little more precise. More employees usually indicate a higher level of crowdsourced data, not to mention consistency across the board.

Illustration for the article titled Why Not Rely on Glassdoor's Salary Estimates

Alternatives to using Glassdoor

It never hurts to ask people who have previously worked or are still in a company that you want to apply to. Talking about money is important when it comes to getting a job and creating a job that is conducive to positive morale, and many employees – acquaintances or friends – will likely be happy to tell you what the pay is like.

Alternatively, the Labor and Statistics Bureau is a good resource. Take it for what it is – a huge repository of government data – and go from there. The BLS uses data collected from employers, all of whom are legally required to accurately report their numbers. While it’s kind of a general look at what certain industry workers are doing, it’s definitely useful.

You have to look within your own industry, but you can get pretty specific. Take a look at the office, for example Average salaries for museum and historical site employees.

There are other sites like and Pay scalethat do much the same as Glassdoor does. With Payscale, you can navigate by job title, industry and degree in addition to other criteria. While no online database will give you a perfect indication of a potential salary, using a number of these tools along with word of mouth information you can gather should help you get an idea of ​​what to expect.