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How to find salaries for a new job

July 5, 2011

There use to be a lot of talk about H1-B visas. Mostly the conversation focused on whether workers born overseas were somehow “stealing” jobs, but in reality, it reflected an insufficient number of trained workers in a given sector. Regardless of that feeling, you can use H1-B visa applications to your advantage while job-hunting.

H1-B visa applications contain the company name, the occupation they’re attempting to hire, the “target” salary for the worker, and prevailing salary taken from the Census or Bureau of Labor Services. Each visa application is a public record which you can use to search salaries for a new job or promotion. Immihelp is one site where you can search a database of H1-B applications, below is a screenshot for a Senior IT Application Analyst at Principal Life Insurance

If the same occupation as you’re applying for is listed, then you should at least aim for the target salary. The prevailing wage amount gives you a sense of the minimum acceptable wage (unless you’re demanding more) since it’s the typical wage for that particular job in the U.S. In the above example, the prevailing wage data was taken from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey.

There are a few sites which attempt to provide the same service, such as GlassDoor and PayScale. These are limited since they rely on self-reported data and seldom contain all occupations. The H1-B visa database has it’s own limitations since it only contains data from applications. This is especially applicable if you’re in a field that doesn’t require a Bachelor’s degree or your company hasn’t filed for a visa application in recent years.

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