some findings from 24,000 people’s salaries

The salary survey a few weeks ago got a huge response — 24,000+ people shared their salaries and other info, which is a lot of raw data to sift through. Reader Elisabeth Engl kindly took the raw data and analyzed some of the trends in it and here’s what she found. (She asked me to note that she did this as a fun project to share some insights from the survey, rather than as a paid engagement.)

This data does not reflect the general population; it reflects Ask a Manager readers who self-selected to respond, which is a very different group (as you can see just from the demographic breakdown below, which is very white and very female).

{ 255 comments… read them below }

  1. asterisk*

    Thanks, both to Alison for having the survey and to Elisabeth for parsing it out! This is fascinating!

    1. Fran Fine*

      I was going to say the same thing – I’m surprised by a lot of this information (in a good way).

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Same! (I had been working on getting it into Power BI to play around with it myself, but do not yet have the skill with it that Elisabeth does.) This is great, and the analysis is very well-done – thank you both!

      1. Ada*

        I was doing the same exact thing! This was actually the first independent exercise I attempted in Power BI.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I had a real ‘squee’ moment because I really love seeing data analysis done so clearly.

  2. Hills to Die on*

    This is interesting, thanks!
    I was surprised at how many people in 2019 had salaries over $200K. It really spikes up and I wonder what the reason is for that.
    Also interesting was the higher salaries of other/na gender – more so that women or non-binary people. Men had the highest, followed by other/NA, then women and then non-binary. I would love to know the reason behind that. I think it indicates an upward trend of acceptance of others – I hope so anyway!

    1. e*

      Unfortunately I suspect it indicates that men might be more likely to prefer not to state their gender, as “other/NA” is collated from “prefer not to answer”, “NA”, and other.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Since NA/Other also includes people who chose not to respond, I would be careful about reading to much into it in terms of acceptance. In my general experience doing survey work (and I am NOT an expert in this field) people may identify as cis in their life, but chose not to ID a gender or a race in these surveys for privacy reasons. In fact, I found when I did surveying, white men seemed most likely to opt out of demographics questions. Again, that was just my observation and may not be backed up with any sort of actual studies on the subject.

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Highly suspecting this is accurate – I’ve heard more than a few white men express discomfort with how their identification is/will be used in polls and data analyses, and indicate (or outright say) that they refuse to provide that information now.

        I’m not sure what a solution to this deliberate polluting of data could be, but it really doesn’t help anyone at all.

          1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            I guess, to my way of thinking, the “prefer not to answer” category is/should be there for the protection of of categories that are commonly discriminated against (despite the fears of some insecure white males, that does not include them) – and when a historically privileged group begins using that category as well, it skews the understanding of what the reality is for the discriminated against groups. Because many policy decisions are made off of analyses of that data, this carries the very real concern that social initatives might not be followed through on, or be discontinued, before their impact has been accurately assessed.

            There’s no problem for this poll in particular, I suppose – but for polling in general, and the way it can be used to influence policies and justify inequality, I think that when data gets polluted in that particular way, it can give rise to long term problems. Admittedly Alison’s poll is not going to be used for the sake of creating policy (hence why it doesn’t really need to be solved here), but if this were a poll being conducted across an industry or workplace, the data could be interpreted to say that the survey results are far more diverse and equitable than they actually might be.

            1. Emily*

              I am so sorry, that was not a very clear question and you gave such a great answer! I meant, why would the white men feel uncomfortable stating their identification? They are the ones who should be least worried, I’d think. I was just confused by that and not very good at stating it, sorry.

              1. LTL*

                You’d be surprised. A number of white men believe that they’ll be discriminated against because they interpret diversity initiatives as pushing them down rather than evening the playing field.

                A white male coworker at my last job complained to me that white men have it really hard nowadays in the job search. The reason he cited for this was affirmative action (which is… not what affirmative action is). When I protested, he said that he wasn’t the only one he knew who experienced this. When I then said that studies have actually been done showing the opposite, he kind of let the conversation drop. But man, I really wish I had gotten visibly angry instead of restraining myself for the sake of his comfort. I’m still angry about the whole thing now.

                1. e*

                  I’m an Asian woman, but it’s analogous for this situation – I was raised with the idea that stating my race would make things harder when applying for things that accepted “classes” of people because stating my race would make overrepresented groups appear moreso in their published statistics. You don’t need to check the box to get the benefits of systemic racism, and there isn’t any argument that it helps you, so why do it?

                  (fwiw, I do personally always identify my race/ethnicity on forms like this – my last name is extremely Chinese, so it just feels disingenuous not to.)

                2. No Longer Looking*

                  I personally have no issues identifying as “male” but I only very grudgingly identify as “white.” Even though I’d probably test out as a European Mutt on a DNA test (I might actually be more Scottish or British) I grew up identifying as Irish-American and I kind of resent that Irish isn’t a selection option on any of the demographics. It doesn’t make sense and isn’t supportable on close examination, but that’s feelings for you.

                3. Charlotte*

                  Reply to e (ran out of nesting)

                  That is interesting as I have a very Chinese last name but am white. I took my husband’s name when we got married. Just another data point that you can’t tell based on names!

            2. Researcher*

              This comment is a great example of why I prefer to use Other/NA rather than providing correct demographic information.

    3. Enough*

      Suspect that those who selected non-binary are among the youngest (early career) and therefor have lower salaries.

      1. kb*

        I imagine you’re suspecting this because “nonbinary” feels like a newer categorization to you, especially among young people. I’d be careful with this assumption, nonbinary & other gender diverse identities have been around for centuries and encompasses people of all ages.

        1. Calliope*

          Sure, but young people have grown up in a somewhat more open environment and may be more likely to openly identify as non-binary. That wouldn’t be surprising; it doesn’t mean nonbinary people in older generations didn’t exist. It’s about how they answer on surveys, not the inherent truth of their existence.

          1. Other*

            I was one of the non-binary answers, and I’m in my mid-30s. I was not always out as non-binary, but as it has become more acceptable I am now more open.

            1. Calliope*

              I was mentally ballparking “under 40 or 45” as young on this one but maybe that’s not supported by the stats. It just feels like a dividing line in my social circles.

              1. thirty-sevenby*

                Well, the age trend is certainly there. At least in this data, I’m seeing 72% of non-binary respondents under 34, vs 49% of women and 43% of men. (That’s without any data cleaning, just a quick-and-dirty stat.) And anecdotally, I’ve seen similar distributions in other survey data recently.

                I’m a non-binary person roughly on the cusp of that generational shift, and I personally see this more as a shift towards standardized language and official categorization, rather than a function of increased acceptance per se. (Although the two are related, of course.) I suspect that a lot of people older than me who experience gender like I do either use different language for it (e.g. one of the other gender-diverse identities kb mentioned) or see themselves as an outlier within a binary gender – source being that’s how I’ve made sense of myself for much of my life. Having built an identity without it, they might not need or want the option to put “non-binary” on a survey.

                All that’s to say, yeah, we’re nothing new, but age is still very much a potential confound on the salary by gender data.

      2. FridayFriyay*

        I would be very careful about using this logic to explain the lower salaries considering the extreme and well-documented discrimination in employment and pay among transgender individuals (which as an umbrella category also tends to include many non-binary people.)

    4. Hillary*

      Sample size may also be a factor – less than 1% is easily thrown off by a few respondents.

    5. LabTechNoMore*

      As far as the salary spike, that might just be an artifact of the graph, kind of like the spike at the lower end too. The salary ranges gets divyed to $5K buckets (e.g. $90K – 94.999K, 95K – 99.999K, etc.), but the very last two use larger buckets, so it looks bigger, but only because it’s comparing a larger interval to a smaller interval.

      Also, an aside, but I was happy to see the survey including non-binary as an option!

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        (Welp, that’ll teach me to try and distinguish an end italics tag forwardslash and a backslash before my coffee…)

    6. theoretical*

      It’s the bucket size. Previous household income buckets covered only a 5k range. At the 200k threshold that jumps substantially, to 50k for 200k-249k and then all the rest of that tail is swept into the 250k+ bucket.

  3. HailRobonia*

    I agree with asterisk.. thank Alison and Elisabeth! And thanks to everyone who responded!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, thank yous all around. This is very impressive for an informal survey with self-selecting people. It never ceases to amaze me what people here can do.

  4. EmmaBear*

    Just want to say thanks to Elisabeth for pulling this together. I was hopeful for a more detailed analysis after seeing the raw data when it was published and glad she was able to deliver :)

    1. 3DogNight*

      Ditto! What a huge amount of data to pull together and make digestible for the rest of us! Thank you!

    2. Lord Peter Wimsey*

      Yes, very well done, Elisabeth! (From a fellow data analyst who understands and appreciates your ability to pull together this clear, succinct analysis using both visuals and text. And who also appreciates that same clear and logical approach in the explanation of the methodology.)

      1. KaylinNeya*

        +1. Also, I adore your name. Dorothy Sayers and that series are among my favorites.

      1. CherryJam*

        Elisabeth – this is fantastic! May I ask what is meant by a data analyst here? I work in market research and this seems very similar to something I’d produce! (I don’t do data cleaning myself, though I am aware of the principles).

  5. elle*

    On one hand I felt okay about making almost exactly the median salary….then I saw the graphic with years of experience correlated! I have over a decade of experience in my field, which make my salary look not so great. I guess the good news is if you average my husband and I together we are over the mean for our level of experience (he makes more than double what I do even though ten years ago right out of college we made almost the same).

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Yes, I make about half what a high school grad makes and I have 2 post grad degrees (which I mostly did not pay for). It’s a bit sad.
      OTOH, a friend is about to get a Phd and makes more than Phds and more than those with fewer years of experience. She has had a meteoric rise.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I think years of experience counts… Until it doesn’t and you’re deemed “too old.” Especially for women.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Roger that. But by the time women figure this out, they’re trapped by the need for health insurance, especially when they’re close to Medicare age. Job movement at that age can *really* backfire.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Remember, that graph of salary by years of experience only shows the means, and mean skews higher than median.

      1. No Longer Looking*

        Yup – I would definitely be interested in seeing the same graphs with Medians instead of Means.

  6. StoneColdJaneAusten*

    Yeah, lawyers who read AAM seemed underpaid to me. Ok, I’m underpaid, but I know it and I work for clients who are poor. It’s the nature of being around other lawyers on the internet that the people who talk about salary most are the ones who make a lot of money, but I was still surprised to see that under 75k showed up so much.

    1. StoneColdJaneAusten*

      Ack, submitted too soon. But obviously I missed some very high paid lawyers when I looked through the lawyer data.

    2. Emmie*

      I agree. JDs/MDs may be the highest earners, though are more likely to have significant debt burdens from their education. I wish that there was a way to accurately capture that in other publicly available salary surveys. Tech, Sales, or Engineering may earn less on average, but their wallet salaries (pay – education debt) are probably much higher.

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        Keep in mind major tech hubs also have the highest cost of living. I’m well-paid by national standards, and saddled with debt in part because of my 3K rent.

    3. Public Sector Manager*

      Just a guess, but I would imagine that of lawyers reading Alison’s column, most either work in small firms or for the government. So the salaries aren’t that surprising to me. When I started practicing law in 1995, it was a terrible job market (probably worse than it is now). I started doing contract work for solos and according to Social Security, I made $16,500 my very first year practicing law. During my first 5 years of practicing law, I worked exclusively in the private sector and exclusively for solos or very small firms. The most I ever made during those 5 years was $52,000 for the year. Then I got into the public sector. While public sector gets paid less than top tier private sector, it pays a lot more than less affluent private sector jobs.

      A 2017 California State Bar salary survey got a 7.6% response rate, and the median income for California lawyers who responded was $135,000. Of the respondents, 36% were paid $100,000 or less a year. The breakdown was 12.5% of all respondents made between $75,000 and $100,000, 11% made between $50,000 and $75,000, 8% made between $25,000 and $50,000, and 4% made less than $25,000 a year.

      For every Big Law attorney making a killing, there are so many others just barely making it.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      The perception that lawyers all make a ton of money is really skewed, likely because the disparity is masked by average/mean calculations. I have a good friend who works attorney recruiting and has a really compelling slide that shows the distribution of law school graduates 2-3 years out, and the vast majority make under $80K with only a small slice making BigLaw money (~$200K to start), major point of it being don’t take out six figures of loans if you’re not going at it full-bore but choose a law school that matches what you want to do with the degree.

      Even DOJ attorneys only make in the $100-150K range, plus locality pay for HCOL areas.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I briefly dated someone who’d gotten a law degree and passed a bar exam several (5-10?) years earlier. Imagine my shock when I found out that his annual pay was in the 50s (most of which went to his student loan debt and child support payments). He worked as a law librarian at the state school that one of my children attended at the time. The school has a reputation for being affordable and many of its students are first-generation college students. I assume it’s not paying much to its staff across the board. It was eye-opening to me though – I’d always thought that a law degree equals $$$$.

        1. metadata minion*

          If you’re a law librarian, your salary is going to be comparable to other librarians, not other lawyers. It’s usually on the higher end of library salaries, especially if you do have a JD, but it’s not going to be dramatically higher than a librarian with a second masters or doctorate in any other subject field.

    5. Calliope*

      Doesn’t that group “law” as an industry though, rather than lawyers per se? That would include paralegals, legal assistants, and perhaps others.

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        I also wonder how much of that has to do ego related issues – ie, big law tends to attract individuals with a strong ego (or more precisely, it selects for the continued presence of individuals with strong egos); individuals with strong egos are less likely to seek or accept outside input, ergo they’re less likely to be participants on a site like Alison’s.

        Anecdotally, it seems like a lot of the lawyer questions Alison fields are from people unhappy/having difficulties in big law, looking to leave that field, or who are entirely outside it. It would be curious to break down how many of the respondents identified as belonging to Big Law firms and how many tended to be in house/government/small firm practitioners.

        1. Calliope*

          I don’t know the stats, though I’m sure they’re out there, but most people leave BigLaw quickly – I think they have something like 30% associate attrition per year – very few remain over the long haul. So you would expect most Big Law people writing in to be junior associates who are thinking of leaving, just based on the numbers.

          I’m a partner at a small/midsize firm (depending on definitions) and I’m in my late-30s. I would be pretty surprised if any of the more senior partners read this site just based on what I know of their personalities.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Is it ego is or is it a suit of heavy armor to help fend off arrows?

          My friend became a lawyer. She argued a tough case in court. Her client’s opposition’s lawyer argued hard and heavy. My friend was near tears but swallowed it all. In the end, the opposition lawyer said, “That was fun. You wanna get a coffee?” My friend said she had an appointment coming up. What she did not say was that it was in a bathroom stall to blat her eyes out.

          False bravado. It’s a thing.

          1. Calliope*

            With BigLaw partners who make millions a year to handle the legal affairs of multinational corporations? No, that’s just ego mostly.

      2. Gem*

        I was wondering this too. I’m a paralegal, so my field is Law, but I’m not a lawyer.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I think this is it. There are a lot of legal support lurking around AAM, and we earn peanuts compared to the attorneys!

      4. Law Librarian*

        Yeah, I reported my industry as law (because I work in a law firm) but I am not a legal professional, I’m a law librarian with an MLIS. I made around USD 44k last year.

    6. Jane of all Trades*

      I think that lawyers’ salary curves are somewhat M-shaped (at least it has seemed that way for newer grads), as most lawyers make either a good bit above or below the average – there is a large group of lawyers who do not make “big law” money. They work for small firms, solo, public interest. Then there’s a group that has very high salaries (biglaw, mostly) but not so much in between!

  7. Properlike*

    My years in education (both earned and worked) will never get me paid as much as the mean salary with someone a year in the workforce.


        1. Starbuck*

          Lol, as an educator at a non-profit, totally. I make about half the ?median” non-profit salary listed. Even controlling for years of experience and in field, I am quite underpaid! But the other versions of my job that I see posted don’t seem to have better salaries. It’s good to keep in mind that this is definitely not a representative sample in any way.

    1. Rachel Morgan*

      I feel you in the library world. Poor but happy, so there’s that, I guess?

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Teachers in the US are criminally underpaid. Family friend was retiring about the same time I started working. I’m an engineer; they were a teacher. I earned more.

      1. pancakes*

        EPI (Economic Policy Institute) routinely analyzes US teacher pay, and has found that teachers are paid quite a bit less than other college-educated workers with similar levels of experience. From their Sept. 2020 report:

        “The teacher wage penalty has grown substantially since the mid-1990s. The teacher wage penalty is how much less, in percentage terms, public school teachers are paid in weekly wages relative to other college-educated workers (after accounting for factors known to affect earnings such as education, experience, and state residence). The regression-adjusted teaching wage penalty was 6.0% in 1996. In 2019, the penalty was 19.2%, reflecting a 2.8 percentage-point improvement compared with a penalty of 22.0% a year earlier.”

        1. Domino*

          Interesting. I’m in Ontario, and teaching is seen as the golden ticket to early retirement thanks to the ridiculously well-managed Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. From its website: “With $221.2 billion in net assets as of December 31, 2020, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada.” Everyone here agrees that teachers have a hard job, but no one feels sorry for them, haha.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think pension fund size is a good metric for wage fairness. Even well-managed pension spend a lot on fees (administrative fees, fintech fees, etc.) and litigation, and more recent hires don’t necessarily get the same pension benefits their predecessors did/do.

        2. Great Company you should trust*

          Loation in the US makes such a difference for teachers. Not just in salary, but salary/cost of living. I’m from NE PA where cost of living is quite low (and especially compared to NY and NJ), but the salaries for teachers were just as high (so making 6 figures for experienced teachers). However, now I live in VA, and I can’t believe how little teachers make down here.

          1. pancakes*

            Yes – EPI breaks it down by state and Virginia is number 1 in terms of the “wage penalty” I referred to.

      2. Kaitydidd*

        Yeah. I’m an engineer, and my mom is a teacher. She has a variety of certifications and an advanced degree that together with her experience push her to the top of her salary scale. I’m 7 years into my career and I significantly out earn her. It’s messed up.

    3. PJ Calamities*

      I knew (before Aunt ‘Ro) I was underpaid for my education/field. Seeing the responses from others with similar roles, locations, etc. shows it so much more.

    4. Blaise*

      And the mean for K-12 was still like $65k somehow?!

      …musta been either a lot of administrators or a lot of teachers in NYC and California responding, because I’m not sure I’ll ever even make that by the time I retire…

      1. Starbuck*

        There is definitely a big-city urban bias in the responses, from what I recall with the sorting that I did to find my industry/regional info.

      2. HS Teacher*

        I make that much a year teaching high school with a master’s degress in Arizona, but I teach in multiple programs within my district. There’s no way I’d make that much if I taught just my regular gig at school.

  8. Asian female tech worker*

    Very interesting, thank you. Explains a lot about the type of comments we see here. I already had a sense that there were more women / white people / people from tech, but this is a really big bias. The higher bias for Asian salaries may be a selection bias. Since relatively few Asian people responded, if most of them are in tech, maybe they come out looking like having higher salaries on average, but the bias is more about the sector. Curious if, broken down by sector, Asians are making more than Whites or not. I wonder why there aren’t more men responding – maybe men are less likely to read advice columns in general?

    1. JSPA*

      This doesn’t tell us the raw readership demographics. It tells us who, among the readership is community-minded, and has the free time, and has the curiosity, and finds it advantageous for these sorts of numbers to be available, and doesn’t fear being individually-identifiable and (the list goes on).

      1. Asian female tech worker*

        Yeah, but I think assuming a correlation between people who post comments and answering this survey seems fair to me.

      2. Roscoe*

        I mean, it doesn’t, tell us, I won’t disagree. But I would wager that it is pretty close to what the actually commenting numbers look like.

        1. Littorally*

          Yep. I did it on my phone, because I was really interested in answering. On my work computer, I couldn’t access it at all.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Same here. I mean, I WFH and had my personal laptop sitting right next to me. But I was also in the middle of selling my house, packing, and moving, and couldn’t be bothered. Yes, this is a confession that I didn’t take the survey.

      3. As anonymous as I can get*

        So embarassingly enough, at least one of us is just financially clueless and can’t calculate salary plus benefits as asked.

    2. Casey*

      Lots of factors at play I think! Agree that this effect is probably less obvious when controlling for location, education, sector, etc. I could easily be convinced that any or all of the following were true:

      a) Asian respondents more likely to work in tech
      b) Asian respondents more likely to live in HCOL areas (LA, SF, Seattle all have pretty sizable Asian population and are also $$ to live in)
      c) Asian respondents more likely to have high level of education

    3. Anon for this*

      One thing I struggle with on these sector breakdowns is that there can be a lot of overlap and different people can answer them different ways.

      I’m a computer programmer, employed by a non-profit whose clients are government entities, most of which are in the US. My salary is above the median reported here for tech, and way higher than those for non profit and government.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        Discipline and industry together help tell a better story. Some industries pay less/more and some disciplines pay less/more. For example, non-profits generally pay less but even within non-profits there are disciplines that will pay more (IT for example).

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, this is not scientifically validated data by any means. It’s informal — still useful, but read it (and participate) with that understanding.

      3. D.*

        Yeah, same. Although I work in higher education, the industry I’m really in is marketing. And even then, I’m not (necessarily) a marketer; I’m a writer. Ultimately, I answered that I was in higher education because that’s what my employer is. But I’m not a teacher, have nothing to do with course curriculums, rarely interact with students, etc.

      4. raktajino*

        I agree that the sector breakdown is potentially misleading. I’m content development and data-adjacent for an edtech company and iirc I said I was in tech rather than education. There’s probably a better answer; I saw in the spreadsheet that others just wrote in “edtech.” Either way, I’m dragging down that tech median.

      5. Elisabeth*

        Definitely. To see patterns, complexity is always lost. Hopefully, “all models are wrong, but some are useful” (George Box).

    4. matcha123*

      I also felt pretty certain that the site skews very upper-middle class white and female. Not that that is a bad thing, but I find the way many people tend to respond to certain types of questions or letters is very common amongst upper-middle class white women.

      More women reading advice columns is most likely the reason for the large female response as others have pointed out.

      I also think a multiracial category should be added to the choices.

  9. JSPA*

    In hindsight, it would also have been excellent to ask older respondents what their salary was when they were (say) 25 and 40 years old. Including people now retired, but still reading AAM.

    That would allow us to at least partially tease out the relative contribution (and perhaps the higher order interactions?) of:

    a) women past a certain age becoming undervalued / underpaid / demoted (active and passive age discrimination)

    b) women who entered the job market before the 90’s having a narrower pipeline and not being considered for promotions and raises (the long-term effects of gender discrimination)

    c) whether people working up to and past standard retirement age self-select, such that the sample is enriched in people working from absolute necessity, from love of the job, and/or a sense of obligation to a cause or organization (i.e. skewing service, higher educational/research and nonprofit) while those who are well-off and very glad to do so (enriched for business and law?) have already retired.

    Also, I wonder if we can correct for the change caused by people (who are partnered or otherwise) considering themselves as one-adult “households” (and/or filing as such) vs people defaulting to being a married (or partnered) two-adult (or, two+ adult) household.

    1. too personal for this*

      I am a decade out from retirement so was looking at my social security wages since 198x, and realized I’ve made 75% of my annual earnings over a 16 year period.

      I’m a woman that worked in lower level accounting clerk type roles until I graduated college at 41. In my first 25 working years made about $400k, in the past 13 years made about $800k.

      It was a sobering realization that the guidance counselor in 10th grade who told me I wasn’t college material cost me a good million or two of earnings. She died of cancer and I wasn’t very sad about it.

      1. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

        wow. thanks for this; I had not looked at grouping the data this way. Not college material…wtf??

      2. RunShaker*

        In high school late 80s & female. I was discouraged from applying for grants & scholarships because my parents had “land”. We lived on a farm/ranch. I asked the college guidance counselor how in the hell and I supposed to translate land to dollars to pay for college?!? no answer. we grew up lower middle class as well. I’m glad there’s more support and resources which allowed my step-daughter to obtain a full ride for college.

        1. too personal for this*

          There was definite gender and class bias in my hometown school. I’m sure, if our town hadn’t been snow white, there also would have been racial bias. We are farther today in equality, but it is still so easy to derail young people from fulfilling their potential.

        2. Absurda*

          I grew up in a rural area with a lot of farms and this was a major problem for a lot of people. When applying for financial aid, the land, livestock, equipment were all assets so it grossly inflated the family’s wealth. There wasn’t a way to indicate that these were not liquid assets that could be used to pay for college.

    2. introverted af*

      As far as the last paragraph, I thought the point of the survey was salary data (based on the individual and job/experience/etc) and not income data. It would be interesting to see income data for this group, though.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am 60 and your list here just so resonates with me.
      Even on into the 80s I was told “You can be a teacher, a nurse or a secretary. Those are your choices.”

      While nothing is wrong with any of those occupations, I knew they would not work for me.

      It’s tough to soar like an eagle if only turkeys give you advice. To anyone reading, go find other eagles, then listen.

    4. TechWorker*

      If you’re asking people their earnings at a particular age (vs ‘right now’) you also have to adjust for inflation – maybe the age grouping gives you a ‘good enough’ way to do that, maybe not.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yep, I really want to start planning ahead for when my pay starts dropping because of age. The survey results look hopeful in that respect, but I’m skeptical (because I always am) that my own pay will follow the survey’s pattern of staying basically the same into my 60s.

    6. Absurda*

      Well, not sure how helpful this would be considering inflation and such but here’s my contribution: I’m female, white and 43. I work in Tech but have a non-tech job; I’m a business analyst.

      My first job (in HS) was general office work, filing, copying and such, part time for $4.25 per hour. This was the minimum wage in the late 90’s. I eventually got a raise to $5.25 per hour.

      First job out of college (in 2000) was office work and project management for $35K per year.

      Now I’m in my 40’s, I’m technically manager level but don’t currently have reports, and I’m making $96k per year.

    7. No Longer Looking*

      I’m male and almost 50. When I was 25, I made around $18,000/yr, and I stayed close to $20,000 for over a decade past that. It was ok compared to the $3.35/hr I made when I started part-time work in high school, but it wasn’t a great wage to stay at.
      When I was 40, I got my first really good job, jumped up to the mid-$30k range, and climbed to the mid-$40k range through promotions there over the next decade.
      A few years back I took advantage of their reimbursement benefits to go back to school at WGU and finish my bachelor’s degree. I happily accepted a new job at $60k four months after graduation.

  10. Roscoe*

    I know that its not exactly the same, but it is interesting to see the demographics of this sub. I probably would’ve guessed that white women were in the majority, but not by that much of an amount.

    1. Sylvan*


      And I don’t know if I would’ve guessed that the average user’s income is that high.

      1. Jennifer*

        That didn’t surprise me. Based on some of the conversations we’ve had here, it seems to skew white and upper middle class.

      2. twocents*

        Honestly that was a big surprise for me too! Being heavily white and female doesn’t surprise me, but the average user here making more on their own than the average household in America… that’s surprising.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Is it because they follow Alison’s advice and job hunt wiser and negotiate sharper???

          1. Starbuck*

            I think it’s more that this blog is clearly aimed more at professional-type workers, rather than the service sector (food and retail) or other industry (manufacturing, construction, etc).

    2. Kes*

      I’ve definitely had the impression readership was mostly female and likely predominantly white, though perhaps not quite so overwhelmingly white. I was more surprised by how much tech was the highest industry – I know I’ve seen others in tech here, but for some reason I always assumed a lot of people here were librarians/writers/worked in nonprofits.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I’m a writer, but I work in tech, so I selected tech as my industry since that’s what industry my employer is in. Alison’s note on the salary guide was to select your employer’s industry, not your job function, because the point of this survey was to see what job functions make across industries. That’s probably why you’re seeing tech as the dominant industry here – you can literally do anything in tech.

  11. DrSalty*

    I don’t know why, but I’m surprised by the overwhelming female bias of readership of this site.

    1. Roscoe*

      I figured it was majority women, just not as big of a majority as this survey showed

      1. Nicotene*

        I could also see women being more likely to take the survey and/or identify their gender when they do … maybe? Hmm.

    2. Nicotene*

      Me too. I think advice columns in general skew female but I get the sense MarketWatch/the Moneyist has a lot of male commenters (even thought the advice giver on some of the advice-style columns are female). I also think Reddit skews male and is still basically a commenting community.

      1. Great Company you should trust*

        This site is also run by a woman. That probably affects readership as well.

    3. nOtaLlMEn*

      With what I’ve seen of men’s reception of workplace advice from women I’m less surprised.

    4. George*

      When a woman has a problem she can’t solve:
      * Ask for help
      * Commiserate with friends
      When a man has a problem he can’t solve:
      * Keep trying random things to solve it himself
      * Suffer stoically

      What? Ask for directions? But then I’d have to admit I’m lost!

    5. 1.0*

      I’m surprised to have seen this comment so often!

      I’m nonbinary and I’m not white, and while I wouldn’t have guessed this exact breakdown, the demographics reported do not particularly surprise me.

    6. Starbuck*

      I’m not surprised, given the design/branding of the site (cutesy female avatar up top) and content. That’s not a complaint.

  12. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    And here I am with an MBA at 30K after a decade of professional experience. So for us outliers I raise my glass and weep a little.

    1. ThatGirl*

      My husband has an MA, a license and 10+ years of experience and is still making in the mid-30s… but that’s partially inertia on his part and partially what he chose to do with his degree/license. I did answer the survey on his behalf just to provide the data.

    2. bassclefchick*

      Me too! I have a Bachelors and am barely at 35k. Glass raised in solidarity!

    3. Auswanderer*

      But aren’t you in Germany? Salaries are really different and usually lower there for the same work. I earned 80,000 per year in California but 40,000 per year in Germany for more or less the same work. But stuff like rent was much cheaper, so that doesn’t mean my spending power was necessarily different. It just skews the data, that’s all I’m saying.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, and things like childcare. I’m in Finland rather than Germany, but childcare costs are calculated in hundreds of euros per month rather than thousands.

      1. Tau*

        Yeah, I missed the survey but I’m in tech in Germany, senior level, on the higher side of the salary range for my geographic area, and I earn nowhere near the numbers cited for the US. It’s just not comparable internationally.

    4. Blue & grey*

      Hello fellow outlier! I started working in 2008 with my MA. I’ve never made more than $40k annually. Hopefully someday my career trajectory will recover from its awful takeoff during the Great Recession.

  13. English, not American*

    I would guess that some of the non-US-based people responding with answers in USD might be converting it for easier comparison. I didn’t when I responded, but I did consider it for a moment. It’s almost second nature when talking online in spaces that aren’t specifically British, along with converting weight into lbs, lengths into feet and inches, and house sizes into square feet.

  14. awesome3*

    Thank you for doing this. I am really shocked that there were less that 500 Hispanic/Latino respondents.

  15. Cher Horowitz*

    Thank you Alison for hosting the data collection and this review and thank you Elisabeth for the easily digestible review. I especially enjoyed the technical notes in the appendix!

  16. RB*

    I hope this isn’t a dumb question but if we are in government but we are also in accounting/finance, which industry are we reported under?? I’m guessing Government but wasn’t sure about that. I wonder if there are discrepancies, for example a governmental accountant who reported their industry as Accounting/Finance rather than Government?

    1. Mockingjay*

      I’m a government contractor, but my company advertises itself as Engineering/IT, so I put Engineering.

    2. AnOh*

      Agreed, I wasn’t sure what to put my industry as I work in a non-typical position for my industry; think accountant in a law firm. I ended up putting the industry my company is in rather (i.e. law) than the industry for my position since my pay is very dependent on where I work. I definitely brought the salary average down with my response!

      1. BlueWolf*

        Ditto. I’m in an accounting-related position in a law firm, so I put my industry as law because it is a big factor in my compensation level. Comparable positions in other industries pay much less.

    3. Anon for this*

      I noted this above. I realize these are standard reporting categories (to some extent) but categories that refer to job function for one category but organizational status for another leave too much room for confusion.

      I’m a computer programmer, employed by a non-profit, whose primary clients are various agencies within the US government.

      Even “non profit” is pretty vague… there are advocacy based non-profits or those that provide services to the public at large, which are what most people think of. But that’s only a part of the overall non-profit picture… there are many non-profits that fall into my category, some of which are quite large.

    4. Not an accountant*

      I suppose it depends on how the people self-reported. Seeing government as one of the options, I decided that the intent was to go by the type of work your workplace does. All kinds of professions work for the government including HR, accounting, engineering, IT, etc… probably some llama groomers too, or at least llama inspectors:)

    5. Government Engineer*

      You kind of hit on why I did not put an entry into the survey. I am a government engineer. My salary is determined by the salary grade for my title as set by the agreement between the government and my union. Normally, engineers in my field are paid based the prevailing wage for the field, as determined by a national engineering organization. Of course, these salaries are adjusted state-by-state, but they’re fair. The thing is, my union represents many types of workers, not just engineers. Our salaries are not based on the prevailing engineering rates because of this. Instead, we’re lumped in with all government employees of various qualifications and jobs, and we’re paid based on that. This suppresses engineers’ salaries to a level well below standard. And our union only fights for pay based on salary grade, not whether the salary grade is appropriate for the work.

      The disparity once reached a point that led the national organization to question whether one could ethically be a unionized government engineer, since the low salaries pull down the national average, which many private employers base salaries on. So if I had to pick one category, I would pick Government, but abstaining felt more accurate.

      1. RB*

        That’s interesting. We have a similar union structure for pay grades but there are separate structures or classifications or whatever for different types of work. So the accountants might be in the same grade structure as the planners if their jobs are determined to have similar pay but the engineers and the modelers might have a different structure (within the overall structure) if their jobs are considered higher-paying jobs. I realize I’m not explaining this very well.

    6. bryeny*

      The guidance from Alison was to list your employer’s industry. You did the right thing! But I think a lot of people didn’t — e.g. lawyers at nonprofits choosing law instead of nonprofit. The idea (or one of the ideas) is to compare pay scales for similar work in different industries. That’s only possible if we accurately report which industry is paying us.

  17. Pascall*

    There are so many other non-binary people! A lot more than I thought!

    Hello to all my fellow NB friends. :) It makes me feel good that I’m not alone out here.

    1. Casey*

      Another non-binary AAM reader who was pleasantly surprised to see others ! Hi friend :)

  18. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I wonder if the obvious outliers/possible typos were eliminated; I remember seeing one nurse (RN) who listed salary as $800,000 USD and that seems highly unlikely.

    1. twocents*

      I had the same question! There were definitely some typos, like someone who put their total compensation was $230K, but in the individual columns, put their salary with $140K and their bonus was $900K. That bonus was almost certainly supposed to be $90K.

      It seems there was a lot of struggle with putting in the right # of zeroes this time around.

        1. Starbuck*

          Not really, it just says entries over $1,000,000 were removed, which wouldn’t address the issue of adding an extra zero to turn $60k into $600k. Which I too saw a lot of implausibly high $X00k entries that were probably meant to be $X0K.

  19. RB*

    Why did so many more women respond than men? Does this mirror the proportion of female-to-male readers on the AAM website? Do females just like to read advice columns more than men?

    1. Amber Rose*

      Probably yes to both. I feel like women are more typically the audience of advice columns written by women, and I suspect we have a majority female audience on this specific blog regardless of whether that first point is true.

    2. Iowa Teacher*

      Yes to both, but also, men are often not as eager to share their salary. I also suspect many men who did submit responses chose not to identify their gender, as shown by the high number tagged as “other/NA.”

  20. Rachel Morgan*

    Raise a glass with me, all you wonderful librarians, MLIS or no MLIS, who weep at that median salary.

  21. Sans Serif*

    I thought I had a decent salary until I looked at this. Oh well – I know the AAM readership stats are not the same as the population as a whole. And I am an individual contributor and I’m sure a lot of the mean/median salaries were driven up by manager level and above positions.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        It would be nice to see salary by location as well. The Midwestern states are going to be lower than New York.

        1. Starbuck*

          Even then, there’s definitely a strong urban bias. I broke out my state, but pretty much all the entries were for the one really big metro area, and disproportionally so – it was maybe 80% of the entries for my state, when it’s only 50% of the population of the state. But I don’t know the breakdown for the “working age” demographics, since rural areas usually skew older/retired….. anyway. In the end I didn’t find it super helpful, unfortunately.

    1. ATX*

      It really depends on the company and field as well. The individual contributor salaries where I work are between 75 and 85k.

  22. No Tribble At All*

    Time to incorrectly assume that the reason the reported salaries are so high (vs national household average) is that reading AAM automatically increases your salary ;)

    Of course, if you use the negotiating advice, it might help…

    1. Web Crawler*

      I’ll choose to believe that, lol. But actually, it feels like it’s true in my case. I don’t think I would’ve gotten a job as easily as I did without this site.

    2. Fran Fine*

      Of course, if you use the negotiating advice, it might help…

      It certainly did for me!

    3. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I don’t know about causation, but it might correlate — people who read a job advice column regularly are already more likely to seek out new information, have a better resume, write a cover letter, apply for office/professional jobs, negotiate when hired, etc.

    4. This site helped grow my salary*

      Yes — anecdotal but I once negotiated a 50% raise using AAM’s “how to ask for a raise” script! I started underpaid though, but I do give this site and Alison a lot of credit.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I was able to quadruple my pay with the advice here. BUT. Keep in mind that 4 times 1 cent per hour is 4 cents per hour. Quadrupling sounds great until you see the starting point. But I definitely did that with advice from here.

    5. matcha123*

      I wish that were true! My salary is many tens of thousands lower than the lowest one on the chart.

    6. Waffle Cone*

      It definitely helped me. I negotiated a retention bonus that I would never have even considered asking for, prior to reading this blog.

  23. Batty Twerp*

    This was… beautiful!
    I get a lovely feeling seeing charts and data – like mild visual asmr.

    And, to be honest, the only surprise is the base salary by self-reported race, given the skew towards white overall.
    (I already assumed majority respondents to be white and female, given that the site default is to assume LWs are female and the US population is 60% white – 2019 census bureau estimate)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Clarification: The site default is not to assume LWs are female. I personally default to “she” when gender is unknown, just as for centuries people defaulted to “he” to mean “he or she.”

      1. Batty Twerp*

        Whoops, I consider myself corrected!
        I’ve been gently corrected by other users before and assumed it was an unspoken agreement.

      2. Jesse*

        I have always thought this was really brilliant as a way of getting one’s own pronouns out, e.g. “If I use ‘he/him’ by default, it’s because my pronouns are ‘he/him’,” so I wish it was more widely-used.

  24. Fabulous*

    Dang, I saw your first mention about wanting to do a survey but I never saw it posted! I totally would have added mine too!!

  25. bassclefchick*

    I would like to know the proportion of six figure salaries that were ALSO reported from high COL areas. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that 150,000 in the SF Bay area is barely a living wage, while here in the Midwest it would be considered “wealthy”. Not that I’ll ever get near to that kind of salary, but still an interesting concept.

    1. LisaNeedsBraces*

      I know you’re just illustrating the disparity in the COL with that example, but 150k is still a lot of money in SF. I’d argue it’s very much wealthy for an individual, just not *as* wealthy. It’s more like in the Midwest, $80k/yr would be director level salary, but here it’s entry-level salary in tech.

      That said, you’re definitely right that the location matters which is why city/country were collected. I assume the highest paying salaries for a given job in the U.S. tend to be in SF/the bay, NYC, LA, and Seattle. What will be interesting is the types of jobs that offer salaries obviously influenced by COL, and those that don’t. I know from experience that while many non-tech jobs in the Bay Area pay well, they don’t pay proportionally well, especially non-office jobs.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I see your point! Thank you for the assistance. There’s a reason I avoided statistics courses when I was in school. You articulated what I wanted to say.

        1. LisaNeedsBraces*

          No worries! You were actually quite articulate and even my example is highly dependent. An $80k salary is different in Chicago than it is in Dayton.

          I just get itchy about when news outlets say things like “middle-class in San Francisco is $200k.” What they mean the calculated middle-class to be a range between 67% of median income to 200% the median, and 200k is the top part of that range. Notice that calculation has no respect to how many people actually make that much, what the distribution of income is, and what the buying power of that amount of money actually is. That’s why I love surveys like this where we actually get to see what people are earning, even if it’s skewed to the audience of one professional-focused blog.

    2. KC*

      150k is definitely a living wage here but not truly well-off. I’m right around that range and am comfortable/stable but still cautious with choices. Taxes and other expenses like gas ($4/gallon) I’d love to get my own place, but can’t afford a down payment for a $1M starter home and renting a 1 bedroom is about $3k/month. Instead I’m renting one bedroom in a shared house for $1,500. I contribute to my 401k, take occasional vacations, eat out, and buy tech things as needed but still need to budget and watch for sales. If I had a kid it would be much harder.

    3. mreasy*

      Yeah, it depends on what you mean. My husband and I make a total of about $250K in NYC and there is no reality in which we can afford to buy a livable home on that (apartment prices starting around $1 million) – with our expenses for rent, etc being so high. But we are very lucky to be able to afford to give to charity, nice groceries & occasional meals out & treats. Lots of people consider middle class to include home ownership – but in super high-COL areas it really can’t.

    4. Overeducated*

      Yeah, but I work for a nationwide employer that has locality pay (so your salary is a base + additional for HCOL areas), and the locality pay is substantial, but not the difference between “living wage” and “wealthy.” For example, a base salary of $100K, which you’d get in cheaper parts of the country, would be $141K in San Francisco based on locality pay. That is definitely a big difference, as the highest locality bump in the country, but it’s not like someone making “just barely a living wage” elsewhere (like…$40k?) would make $150k there.

      On the other hand, I don’t work in tech.

    5. Kaitydidd*

      Living in a high COL area is what pushed my salary as high as it is. There’s a COLA for my county, which pissed off people in the more rural areas, but they can buy a huge house for what a slightly gross 1 bedroom condo costs here, so.

  26. bryeny*

    Thank you Alison and Elisabeth for doing this! I would have been happy to see percentages in some of the charts.

  27. mazrael*

    FYI, the median on additional compensation is wrong. It looks like the median is ignoring the ~50% of people who answered zero.

    1. Two Dog Night*

      I dunno… I think the median amount of people who get additional compensation is more interesting than if all the zeroes are included.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Median doesn’t mean average though; in the series of data points: 0, 2, 5, 13, 40, 70, 72, 100, and 10,000 the median is 5,151 and the average of those numbers is 1,144.6.

      1. Elenna*

        Isn’t the median of those numbers 40? “Median” just means the middle data point, so since you listed 9 data points there the median should be the 5th largest data point, or 40.
        The average, as you said, is (0+2+5+13+40+70+72+100+10000)/9 = 1144.6, where we divide by 9 because there are 9 data points. This is a pretty good example of how one really big answer can pull up the average a lot without pulling up the median as much.

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          Oh, I thought median was add up the numbers and divide in half (by 2) to get the middle so that zero would have almost no influence. Whereas, in the average zero has a pull-down effect. I stand corrected.

    3. Elisabeth*

      Yeah the median and mean values labels here should read: “of people with *any* additional comp”.

  28. Elizabeth West*

    Those are very pretty charts. I don’t understand them, lol, but they look great.

  29. Philly Redhead*

    WOW! I really appreciate Elisabeth for taking the time to parse out this data!

  30. Koalafied*

    Am I somehow reading wrong the age chart, where it looks like the “Under 18” group reported average salaries of $70,000? Is this something where not answering that question left it on some default setting like the date they submitted the survey, making them 1 day old as far as the age chart goes?

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I see the note on that one that there is assumed a large margin of error due to a low number of responses in that category. I would assume 1-2 responses with high earnings (or someone trolling the site). It’s unlikely but possible — young actors and musicians, for example, can make a lot of money.

    2. Ursula*

      There are only 8 respondents in that category, probably one of them has a ludicrously high income. Maybe they work at their parents’ company or are a youtube star.

    3. Seasofdata*

      There were a lot of mistakes/fakes in the under 18 category, 40% of the people claiming to be under 18 also claimed they had 20+ years of experience, and one claimed to have a PhD.

      1. Elisabeth*

        This category can be safely ignored, for all the reasons Seasofdata said (I should have left it out entirely). There is a lot of noise in the dataset in general, and in tiny groups like this one, random errors can obscure anything real. It might be that here, the age category itself is the mistake and we actually don’t have any true <18 respondents. We'll never know!

        1. Seasofdata*

          I took a look at the set and one point too and it definitely was a noisy one! It must have taken you forever to clean it up, even just looking at the “Country” field gave me a headache.

  31. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    I feel like the next major analysis should be planning a way to do historical analysis of the responses over time, to see how the areas of expertise of Alison’s readership has either changed or remained constant.

  32. Spearmint*

    I’m not surprised that people with professional degrees make far more, but I do find that hard to square with the general skepticism not Alison and many commenters express who it graduate school.

    This tension is reflected in my personal and work life as well: lots of people tell me graduate school is a bad idea except in very narrow circumstances, and yet it’s clear that among the people I know, those with graduate degrees (across many fields) typically make more money, have more interesting projects, and have more developed skills than those of us with just BAs.

    1. Calliope*

      I think people are normally not talking about professional degrees when they say “grad school” as a generic. That’s not to say an MA in English is necessarily a bad idea, but it’s different than getting a JD in terms of exit options (and the JD might be a bad idea or a good idea too – again, not taking a stand here.)

      1. AMT*

        Yep. When OP says “across many fields,” I’m going to bet that these are professional fields that have a very specific degree-to-career trajectory (e.g. M.S.W. –> therapist). These are a completely different animal than degrees in fields where there aren’t many jobs outside of teaching at the university level (the aforementioned English degree), degrees that aren’t actually necessary to work in a given field (master’s in publishing), or degrees that don’t have specific career trajectories attached to them at all (what on earth is a Doctor of Behavioral Health and what skills does a person with that degree purport to have? who is hiring people with master’s degrees in bioethics?).

    2. consultinerd*

      Okay, as someone with a professional masters degree who has advised a lot of people not to get one if they can help it, I’ll explain my thought process:

      When I finished undergrad during the great recession, I looked around, saw a barren wasteland of job opportunities, and decided now was as good a time as any to do a masters. I had some fun, delayed a hard job hunt for a few years, and learned very little of value at considerable expense. Fast-forward a decade and I look around and see that while lots of people in my field have masters, they aren’t any better (on average) at it than those with a BA/BS only, and that I learned massively more in any given two years of work than I did in the two years my MS took.

      I feel like there are two conclusions you can take from this. One–masters are a waste of time if you’re the type of person who would be good at a given field and it’s not a hard requirement. Just hussle to get that first job in a field and learn as you go and you’ll be fine.

      Or, two–it’s hard to break into a lot of careers without a masters, so the people who do manage to do it are more talented than average and that makes up for disadvantages they face in their careers from having less education. I’m not observing everyone who tried and failed to break in or progress without a masters, so basically I’m reasoning from a heavily selected sample.

      I think there’s some truth to both these stories but am unsure which is more correct.

    3. twocents*

      The examples pulled out for professional degrees specifically are MD and JD: medical and law. I’d be more surprised if they weren’t making the top salaries.

    4. Jesse*

      The people recommending you avoid grad school but making a lot of money probably did their own graduate education a number of years ago, and might be telling you about new trends.

      For example, there’s currently a glut of law school graduates, I hear. Which is not something an older lawyer would have faced personally, but they would likely be aware of the issue and want to warn you off.

    5. Anonymous Hippo*

      In my small personal experience in Finance, I’ve found there is a big difference between people who went straight through from under grad to grad before working, and those who went back and got their degree later. I tend to think it is a combination of finance being one of those things were some level of actual experience gives you a better level of understanding when going through the master’s program, and also the level of dedication to your field that would make you go back to school during your career.

  33. Eleanor*

    I see your R graphs! Very cool stuff, thanks for doing this and posting it for the rest of us!

  34. TechPM*

    Thank you so much for putting this data together and providing a forum for us to share this information. I was happy as a cis white male in tech to share my salary info and hope it helps others (matter of fact I am starting a new job in 2 weeks.)

    I cannot speak as to why there aren’t more male respondents (or seemingly fewer male readers), but I can say that any man who isn’t regularly reading this blog is missing in my opinion, hands down, the best site and resources to manage their careers and workplace dynamics. Matter of fact, nearly 8 years ago I took Alison’s offer to review resumes and she helped me completely revamp it to land a new job back then! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve forwarded posts here to colleagues as well.

  35. Mourning Reader*

    I’m curious which category includes librarians? I am retired so didn’t respond, but I never knew whether to check education (for non-academic library) or government. Some librarians might be in business or law.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Yes, we’ll be distributed across industries. I work for the public library in my city, as a city employee, so I always choose Government.

  36. Bob*

    Beyond the numbers i wonder what this says about the readership.

    If its mostly female thats apparently not by design since Alison has said this blog was started on a whim. Also i recall reading articles where readers thought the author was male (before Alison used her real name).
    In addition there is no testosterone being thrown around and this site is basically about the mechanics of workplace interactions and navigating them for the best outcomes. What i like about this blog is that Alison is very diplomatic and systems thinking. That won’t necessarily appeal to macho types (and the non detail oriented) but usually leads to a better outcome.

    All that said the responses are self selected, its also possible that women are more likely to give employment information vs men and the readership percentage is not represented in the responses?

    1. llamaswithouthats*

      Advice columns in general – both the columnists and their readers, tend to skew white and female. I’m not sure why. It could just have to do with the demographic of the US. I say this as someone who reads a lot of advice columns and lives in the US. (Non white female.)

    2. Analyst Editor*

      One might go as far as to say it’s estrogen being thrown around instead,haha.

      1. Bob*

        I don’t get that vibe at all.
        Alison is professional and experienced and it comes through in her replies and thoughtful solutions.

        When i first started reading AAM i thought the author was naive because some of the replies sound like they were meant only for companies that are not dysfunctional but reading further i realized Alison is saying try best practice but if it fails to work then you most likely can’t fix it. Also in recent years she seems to be more anticipating dysfunctional outcomes which is accurate.

  37. Alexis Rosay*

    The overall ‘professional office life’ tenor of this blog may not resonate as much in certain low-earning workplaces, for sure. That’s okay–this blog doesn’t have to be everything to everyone–but I do think it would be interesting to see more issues raised that are relevant to different types of workplaces.

  38. CheddarTheCorgi*

    I thought I was doing OK, then I saw I’m in the bottom 10% of earners AND I have 10 years of experience. I do cancer research and I’m really passionate about it, now I just feel terrible about myself.

  39. Hardworking Cheeto*

    As a liberal arts major that can’t afford a studio in any major city without paying half my salary I’ve gotta wonder where ya’ll are finding these high paying jobs. I search job boards daily for something over 50k :(

    1. mreasy*

      I didn’t make above $40k until I was 30, but I got over $100k by 40! Still, mega-high-COL city makes that not go as far as it could but in many industries the opportunities open up much later on.

      1. pancakes*

        Wage stagnation is a huge factor, too. The charts illustrating it are incredible. As Pew Research said in 2018, “despite some ups and downs over the past several decades, today’s real average wage (that is, the wage after accounting for inflation) has about the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago. And what wage gains there have been have mostly flowed to the highest-paid tier of workers.” EPI dot org and FAS dot org have a lot of analysis, too. In my first job out of college in 1997 I was initially paid $40,000 per year, and nearly 25 years later I still see entry-level jobs here in the same city that don’t pay much more.

    2. Kaitydidd*

      State government! We’re in a hiring freeze right now, but it’s slated to end in a couple months.

      1. Hardworking Cheeto*

        Thank you Kaity! I’ve been toying with this idea and hope it’s just a matter of timing.

  40. Domino*

    While there’s nothing wrong with the site’s readers being mostly female, I suspect there would be more male readers if the blog was redesigned. The Lisa Frank style cartoon of Alison and the cursive subtitle give off a “Career tips for girls!” vibe. Which would be fine if that’s what this blog actually was, but it isn’t.

    1. A guy*

      I think you are spot on, but it’s more than that. Males (especially cis hetero white males) are not the most welcome group here.

      For just one example among several, I was once accused of “mansplaining” in a comment when I seriously didn’t even know (or care) that the person I was responding to was female. And others piled on. I thought it was time to move on after that (I still read the blog sometimes, but haven’t commented in years).

    2. Hamish the Accountant*

      I don’t disagree in general, but I think describing the image as “Lisa Frank” style is pretty hyperbolic.

        1. pancakes*

          I can’t say I’m surprised to see this type of commentary on the site’s branding, but it seems off balance to me considering how many guys on social media, particularly tech guys, use bitmoji avatars or cartoon characters. Marc Andreessen is presently using Charlie Brown. Nearly all the New Yorker writers use illustrated portraits that give them giant bobble heads.

          1. Domino*

            Sure, but those portraits don’t have giant Bambi eyes, and the New Yorker *itself* doesn’t use that branding as a magazine/website. If I didn’t know anything about this blog and someone just showed me the top of the page, I would immediately assume it was aimed at women (or possibly kids!). I’m fine with it being a cartoon, but the style is just too twee for me, I guess. There’s something paper-doll-ish about it that isn’t the case with Charlie Brown.

  41. Jesse*

    Just wanted to say you did an incredible job on this analysis, Elisabeth, and thank you very much.

  42. shrachel*

    I love this! In the future, will there be more job categories added? I took the survey but had trouble placing my pharma R&D job in these buckets. I usually choose “research” on surveys related to my profession.

  43. Acey*

    I would have liked to see a race category for multiracial, including everyone who checked off two or more race categories. But this is cool work, and I can’t necessarily expect that level of detail from someone who chose to do this for free. Thanks for sharing with us! :)

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