Figuring Out Nonprofit Compensation

Wages by Occupation and Metro Area example
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Updated June 24, 2020 | Ben Hastil

Whether you are a nonprofit job seeker or employer, determining the right amount of compensation for a position can be tricky!

One of the best sources for wage and salary data is the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration’s CareerOneStop website, which provides a variety of tools and information related to career exploration, training, and jobs.

Their Salary Finder tool lets you access wage and salary information by occupation and location, which is pulled from reliable government survey data, and their Compare Salaries tool lets you compare the wage and salary information between different occupations or locations.

As an example, using their Salary Finder tool, if we enter “Social and Human Service Assistants” for the occupation and “Milwaukee, WI” for the location, it will provide us with the following breakdown of wages for social and human service assistants in the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI Metro Area and in the United States as a whole.

As noted on their website, these charts show wages at the 10th percentile (labeled “Low”), 50th percentile (labeled “Median”), and 90th percentile (labeled “High”). The “Low” wage shown is not necessarily a “starting wage.” Instead, they explain that “it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th percentile wages when you start out in most careers.”

If you click on the “Learn more about this occupation” link below their chart, it provides a variety of other information (as previewed below), including projected employment and outlook, typical education and experience of people starting in the occupation, and more.

Of course, this wage and salary data has limitations in that it only provides information on compensation for broad groups of position types, and doesn’t take the size of the employing organization into account (or benefits offered), among other important factors that can affect compensation.

However, while keeping this in mind, it can provide a useful starting point, being based off of reliable government survey data, and we hope it is helpful to you, whether you are a nonprofit job seeker or nonprofit employer wondering about appropriate compensation!


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