Where do I find salary information?

jennifer Bjorkman | July-05-10




Anne Howard and Craig Dowden recently provided two approaches to  answer the following question from one of our Employer members:

Where can I find some salary information for Biologist positions in non-for-profit?


I would not provide anyone with the suggestion that they use data pulled from public sources as statistically sound data.  It can however provide a general ball park sort of number. If using public domain information, I would look for at least three sets of data and would be VERY aware of the limitations of the information.

When going to the public domain limitations to be aware of include:

First, different locations have different pay rates, general internet info is not a good idea, and the company can pay too much or try to pay too little for a new recruit.

Second, the personal characteristics of the person impacts how much they should be paid (experience, education, etc.)  Therefore general market information can only ever be used as a general guideline.

Third, internal equity needs to be considered in making compensation decisions.  To pull a number from the external market without taking internal equity into consideration is likely to result in problems.

Fourth, the total rewards package impacts salary - so any salary information must be used with that total rewards thought in mind.

Fifth - industry does impact salary as well so finding the right job in the right industry is also important.

Sixth - it is important to know how old (how current) the data they are looking at is - old data will cause problems. 


Places in the public domain where there is a possibility to obtain that ball park information:

Monster.ca has a salary wizard where some salary information can be found as well as there are a couple of organizations that provide public with salary information on their jobs;

  • Payscale
  • Depending on the job, perhaps the professional organization people holding that job belong to (For Example APEGGA)
  • The Alberta Government conducts a survey every second year.  Care needs to be taken with this data - age of the data and location is the concern here.

Anne Howard is a Human Resource Management Consultant based out of Calgary, AB.
Anne Howard- Human Resource Consulting





By Craig Dowden


This is a very common question that gets asked by many different people, including both employers and employees.  If you are an employer, one option is to engage a specialist in this area.  There are reports available by private consultants in all major cities.

For individuals and employees, we would highly recommend conducting informational interviews with people that work in the industry or with employees of the organization that you are interested in joining.  This will not only allow you to obtain insights about positions and salaries, but also enable you to gather other information about the industry or organization.  Last but not least, it will permit you to build your professional network. 

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com), the world’s largest professional network with over 70 million members, is an excellent way to find people to whom to ask this question. Through this site, you can identify people that may already be in your network, as well as find others who you would like to connect with on this question.  Simply use the “advanced search” function to search for people by position title, organization, industry, location or even within the groups to which you belong. For example, a quick search for Biologists in Canada shows that there are 688 biologists that are registered on LinkedIn.

Another opportunity on LinkedIn would be to join a professional group online. For example, you could join the Science Jobs group (4,792 members). By joining, you would have access to online forums and articles, as well as the opportunity to join specific subgroups that are of interest to you (ie. Biochemistry, Molecular biology, Microbiology, etc.).

Besides LinkedIn, there are other online resources that you can tap into for your research. For information specifically on the Non-Profit Sector, the HR Council for the Non-Profit Sector provides information on salary surveys including how to assess them (www.hrcouncil.ca).  It also includes links to salary surveys in the Non-Profit Sector.

Another  on-line resource available to both employees and employers is PayScale (www.payscale.com).   The user can enter specific information about their individual experience and education as well as job title, geographic location and employment sector.  For this particular question, we entered a biologist in the non-profit sector with 10 years of experience.  The resulting report showed a median of $52,066.00 and gives the user the entire range.

In summary, salary research can be done in a few different ways. We recommend both connecting with professionals in your area and taking advantage of the online tools that are available to you. Good luck in your search!

Craig Dowden (Ph.D.) is the Managing Director of André Filion and Associates – Ottawa
André Filion and Associates – Ottawa


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