By Alan Earls

If you are looking for a job -- or looking for a raise -- it is helpful to have an idea about compensation rates in the field and in your geographic area (or in the area to which you are considering relocating). As most people are aware, there can be dramatic differences in compensation rates (and costs of living) across different areas of the country. Hot spots like Silicon Valley or Metropolitan New York City feature wages rates that can sometimes be whole integer multiples of those found in quieter markets.

And, in today's fast-paced markets, those factors can change rather quickly.

Not surprisingly, there are scores of Web sites featuring information that can help you determine what you need to earn in a given region and what you could expect to be compensated. Unfortunately, not all are created equal. Many target their information at HR departments and charge a hefty sum for their research. Others have data that is incomplete or poorly researched. We've identified a few that offer good quality data at a price that can't be beat: FREE.

Kforce (

Requires Free Membership to View offers one of the more comprehensive recruiter-generated salary surveys (formerly the Source EDP surveys). This survey provides a good breakdown of salary rates by skill sets and regional cost of living. You can also get more up-to-the minute anecdotal reports at (

If those three sources don't satisfy your appetite for compensation data, try going to the Economic Research Institute ( for a vast listing of sites that can connect you to other free and for-fee compensation data sources.

About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, Mass.

This was first published in November 2000

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