State to State Salary Comparison

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Salary and compensation in each state can range widely for numerous reasons. Most reasons have to do with the cost of living difference but also because there is a higher demand for certain types of professions in each region. In some cases, employment and benefit taxes, which is determined by state and federal government, can affect salaries from state to state as well.


Whether your looking to relocate for personal reasons or for your current employer, there are several ways to determine what general salary can expect in each state.

General Statistics for Salary Comparison by State

  • Overall, you can find general information on salary by state from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics is a government agency and can be your best source for general salary data that is reliable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does extensive research by surveying employers nationwide. Their website offers a wide range of professions and industries with clear job titles and descriptions, and they offer comprehensive salary information by profession. They also offer statistics on salary averages for metropolitan and regional areas.

Investigate the Demand for Your Occupation

  • Each state will have more or less job opportunities for your occupation. There can be a number of reasons for this, but in some cases, the need to hire employees in your profession may also increase or decrease the salary for each state.

    The best way to investigate the demand for your occupation in a specific state is to review Internet job boards such as CareerBuilder, Monster and Indeed.com. By doing a search on your job title and state, it will give you a list of openings. If you find a large list of openings for your job title, chances are your occupation is in high demand in that state.

    Some Internet job boards and sites will allow you to research average salaries for any state. Internet sites such as PayScale and Salary.com will give you salary ranges for a wide variety of professions, but keep in mind most of the professions listed on those sites use very generic job titles. Internet sites such as Indeed.com compare salaries by compiling job postings and salaries listed on those postings. Although the data is more recent, the data can be compiled from minimal job postings, which does not give a salary average from multiple sources.

    Using these sources can be informative, but use as many sources as possible to be certain.

Investigate the Cost of Living

  • Cost of living can be a major expense and should play a key role in determining salary for a specific state or region. In most cases, salary will be higher if a job is in a high cost of living area, but still research cost of living compared to salary in a specific state. If your company has asked you to relocate for your job, ask if your salary will be adjusted for cost of living differences. Most organizations will have a policy for relocation and cost of living, but there are some organizations that have a standard salary for job openings across the nation.

    Internet sites such as Salary.com and CNNMoney.com have free calculators to compare cost of living from one metropolitan area to another.

    A common mistake is typically determining cost of living by looking at housing prices. If you live in a high cost of living area, everything is more expensive. You can make a general decision by determining a cost of living by reviewing housing prices, but also go over your budget and take everything into consideration.

Visit the Area for More Information

  • Relocating to another state is costly, and a worthly investment would be to visit the state to where you are relocating. Learn about local and state taxes and how it will affect your wages. Set up appointments to visit homes or apartments, and ask a lot of questions. Stop in stores and look at prices of items you purchase frequently. Look at gas prices as you drive by gas stations. Some of these suggestions may not seem important but can add to your expenses. What seems like small increases here and there can add up quickly.

Additional Insight

  • State to state salary comparisons can involve extensive research but is necessary whether you're relocating due to personal or professional reasons.

    To give an example, the Bureau of Labor Statics show that the top paying states for a middle school teachers are New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey. While Texas and California are comparable by population and number of middle school teachers per state, salaries in Texas are approximately 24 percent lower than California. Cost of living can be a factor, but there are cities in Texas where cost of living can be comparable to cities in California. With that in mind, you may decide a relocation from California to Texas may not be in your best interest. In some cases, you may not have a choice, but further investigation will help you target specific areas within a region that will assist you in finding a competitive salary and allow you to continue your current standard of living.

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