What Is the Meaning of Competitive Salary?

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Many employers include the cryptic phrase “competitive salary” in job listings. Generally, the term means that the job pays somewhere around the local average for your field. If the pay is truly competitive, you should be able to easily make a similar salary in the same job at another firm in your area.

Defining the Competition

  • To determine whether a wage is truly competitive, define the competition. For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average individual income in the United States was $40,563 a year in 2012. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in May 2013, the average salary of U.S. dentists was $164,570 a year. So for a dentist, a salary of $70,000 a year could be argued as a competitive wage if measured against the national average for all jobs, but certainly not if compared to the salaries of other dentists. To know whether a wage is truly competitive, take into account the industry, location, experience level, education level, current labor market conditions and other factors.

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