Let me start off by saying that I love the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Website! As far as the number of tools and resources the website offers, you can't beat it. There is so much free information on the site that you can spend months looking around and uncovering new and interesting tools and facts. However, there in lies the problem. The site has so much information that it is easy to get lost when looking for something. I found some incredible tools, but when I wanted to find them again, it took me three days. All this said, I think they do a great job of providing some pretty valuable information. Whether you are looking for employment rates, pay rates, industries by geography breakdowns, industry analysis, job paths and analysis or anything else related to employment, the BLS site can be an incredible resource.
While there is no way I can cover everything this website offers in one article, I plan for this to be the first of a series of articles about how you can find and use tools that will help you in your career journey. Whether you are still planning for your future, looking to recalibrate your earnings and/or skill set or just want to explore opportunities in other markets, I can't stress enough the power of the site.
It may seem strange for me to use SalarySchool.com to push you to other sites for great career and compensation tools. However, in today's information gathering paradigm, there should be no such thing as a one-stop shop. It is important for you to find and use all resources that are available to you. Only by gaining multiple perspectives, can you confidently make the best decision for you. That said, let's look at a tool I think you will find useful when looking at job markets.
Total Employment and Pay Ranges by Occupation and Geography
When looking for jobs in a market, it's good to get an idea for what the going rates are. The BLS website has a tool, the Occupational Employment Statistics Query System (OESQS), that allows you to select a location scope, or geography and occupation type. You can then see pay rates. This is a great complimentary resource to tools such as Salary.com, CareerBuilder.com or any of the other websites to find going rates in your market. What the OESQS does that adds additional value is allow you to dig further into the jobs for the market. Want to convert the annual salary to an hourly rate? The system does it. Like to see multiple pay points for a particular job in a specific city? Not a problem. Looking to move to a city and want to know how many positions in your chosen occupation exist in that given market? You can find a solid approximation for this too. When you are looking at jobs, or considering moving to somewhere where more jobs in the occupation of your choice exist, this tool is a blessing. While I can not guarantee that one website's numbers are better at calculating pay rates for jobs in a particular company, this is a great supplemental resource to help you make these comparisons. With all this functionality, the hardest part is finding the tool. In this article, I'll walk you through how to find the OESQS and how to run your report.
Using the OESQS
The hardest part of using the Bureau of Labor Statistics site is finding what you need, then figuring out how to get that data. To find the tool, click here. You should see a start screen for the OESQS.
On this page, you have multiple ways you can slice and dice the data. For this exercise, we will select the first option (Multiple occupations for one geographical area). This will allow us to look at several jobs for a single location. When you select "continue", you come to this screen:
On this screen, I would try to go as specific as possible. In some markets, you just might not be able to find city data. In that case, you may want to go with state data. Once you select your option, Metropolitan or NonMetropolitan Area, you will notice that you can get much more specific to the geography you want:
After you nail down the city, continue to the next screen. Here, you can pick as many jobs as you want to review. The trick is to hold down the Control button while selecting each job you want to look at. This screen is especially helpful if you want to learn more about pay rates for different types of professions.
On the next screen, you can choose what type of information you want to learn about the job. You can look at hourly rates, annual rates, and (what I think is important) the number of people in that occupation for that city market. When pulling market data, regardless of whether you pull hourly or annual data, I would pull the following cuts (10th, 25th, median, 75th and 90th). These cuts will help give you a better understanding of the range.
Once you continue, you will come to the report page.
This report is great really understand different occupations and how the pay rates can be very diverse. Want to get a job in a market, but the location has very few people doing that job? Then you will have your work cut out for you. But at least you will be informed when making your decision.
When looking at the market data, be sure that you have learned enough about how to interpret each of the data points and where your salary may most likely fall. I'll cover these points in future articles. The key points being that you need to know where you stand with your experience, skilss and job responsibilities relative to others doing the job.