How to learn about salary information

Money makes the world go around and — let’s be real — it also makes you get your butt out of bed every day to go to work.

Though Canada is certainly a capitalist country, we also have a lot of social conventions preventing us from talking about money.

It is rude to ask how much somebody makes. But we all secretly want to know.This information is also critical if you are going into a wage negotiation upon being hired for a new position. Understanding what others have been paid before can help you negotiate a fair salary.

If you are considering career possibilities and compensation is a factor in your decision, or if you are just super nosy, here are some socially acceptable ways to find out how much other people make.

Public sector salary disclosures

You can actually look up every U of M, Manitoba Hydro, City of Winnipeg, Manitoba Public Insurance and Winnipeg Regional Health Authority employee by name and see exactly how much money they made in a given year, provided their salary is greater than $50,000.

This is sort of creepy, but also quite illuminating for curious career planners.

Manitoba’s Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Act requires publicly funded bodies disclose the specific salaries of employees making $75,000 or more per year. This was just increased by $25,000 in January, so all existing reports still disclose salaries above $50,000.

If you are curious how much any public employee makes — not just in Manitoba — a huge chunk of those salaries are public with just a little investigation. Google the organization of interest plus “sunshine list” or “compensation disclosure” and you should find the report.

Collective agreements

Unions publish the collective agreements they negotiate for their workers on their websites. These documents detail all kinds of benefits and rules, including salaries, which are typically grouped by type of work and show increases for years of service.

A few examples of unions include the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, Manitoba Association of Healthcare Professionals, Unifor and CUPE.

It is sometimes tricky to figure out if a workplace is unionized but Googling the workplace plus “collective agreement” or “union” usually turns up appropriate results.

Federal government reports

The federal government maintains a website where jobs are posted called Job Bank. It offers an “Explore Careers” section where you can search for occupations to determine their median wage and job outlook.

If your goal is to simply find out which occupations make the most on average, you can also check out Job Banks’ high-paying program page, where they list median earnings sorted by program studied.

This data is very reliable, since it is sourced from government surveys and the census, but sometimes the occupational groupings are large, making it unclear how much someone with a specific, narrower job title earns at a particular company.

Crowd-sourced salary guides

If you would like to find typical salary for a position at a workplace which is not unionized or required to disclose salaries, you can find salary information on websites like Glassdoor and Payscale.

These numbers are crowd-sourced, which means you should use this information with the same caution applied to browsing a Wikipedia article. The numbers are generated by other users of the website, who are asked to disclose their salary, employer and job title. Still, this information can provide useful insight into the pay and benefits provided by employers where information can be hard to come by.

Professional association reports

Many professional associations survey their members about their salaries and report the results.

A few examples of associations who share salary reports include CPA Manitoba, Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba, ICTAM and CPHR Manitoba.

Seek out your professional association’s website for details. You can also check out U of M Career Services’ online Research Occupations library, which links to relevant professional associations and salary guides for over 200 occupations.

Triangulate

Use more than one source and you will be more likely to arrive at an accurate understanding of the financial benefits of any given profession.

By doing your research you will better prepare for your own future and answer all your secret questions but more importantly prepare for your future.