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Help and FAQs - Occupation Wages


  1. What does the wage data mean?
  2. What is the source of the wage data? How is wage data gathered? How often is the wage data updated?
  3. What is included and excluded in wage data estimates?
  4. Why does the source for some of CareerOneStop's data say the data are a few years old? Is there more recent data?
  5. What is an Earnings Quartile and what do the dollar signs mean?


  1. What does the wage data mean?
    Wage data provided for occupations is given in a hourly wage rate, an annual salary amount, or both. Occupation wage data is usually provided at the following percentiles: 10, 25, 50, 75, and 90. The dollar value given at a percentile shows a wage distribution for that occupation. These data can be interpreted as follows:
    • At the 10th percentile, ten percent of workers employed in that occupation earn less and 90 percent earn more than the estimated wage value.
    • At the 25th percentile, 25 percent of workers employed in that occupation earn less and 75 percent earn more than the estimated wage value.
    • At the 50 percentile (also referred to as the median), 50 percent of workers employed in that occupation earn less and 50 percent earn more than the estimated wage value.
    • At the 75th percentile, 75 percent of workers employed in that occupation earn less and 25 percent earn more than the estimated wage value.
    • At the 90th percentile, 90 percent of workers employed in that occupation earn less and 10 percent earn more than the estimated wage value.


  2. What is the source of the wage data? How is wage data gathered? How often is the wage data updated?
    Wage data are collected by each state through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at the U.S. Department of Labor. National wage estimates are developed by BLS. State and national occupation infomation is classified using the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) system. Wage data are updated on CareerOneStop annually. For more detailed information about the program or the survey refer to the OES webpage.

  3. What is included and excluded in wage data estimates?
    Wage estimates include base rate, cost-of-living allowances, guaranteed pay, hazardous-duty pay, incentive pay (e.g. commissions and production bonuses), and on-call pay. Wage estimates do not include back pay, jury duty pay, overtime pay, severance pay, shift differentials, nonproduction bonuses, and tuition reimbursements.

  4. Why does the source for some of CareerOneStop's data say the data are a few years old? Is there more recent data?
    An extensive data gathering process involving high data standards ensures that data estimates are accurate, while protecting the privacy of the participants who provide the data. As a result of this process, there is a lag in time between when the data is gathered and when it is released. CareerOneStop is updated with the newest data as it is released and provides the most recent data available.

  5. What is an Earnings Quartile and what do the dollar signs mean?
    Earnings Quartiles seperate wage and salary information of people employed in an occupation or industry into four parts. Dollar sign symbols are used to represent the following:
    • 4 dollar signs ($$$$) = Very high (Greater than $51,580)
    • 3 dollar signs ($$$) = High ($32,930 to $51,450)
    • 2 dollar signs ($$) = Low ($21,790 and $32,380)
    • 1 dollar sign ($) = Very low (Less than $21,550)



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