Salary & Satisfaction Survey Part 3 of 3: Apples to Apples?

Today I will try to compare apples to apples rather than apples to oranges.  There are a number of positions that showed up within our survey frequently enough that perhaps we can draw a few conclusions.  I have already analyzed the overall numbers but this time I will try to compare people in like positions.  If you have missed the first two installments of this series, it may be helpful to review installment one, or the summary of results before reading this.  With that said, I have compared wages against experience, gender identification, and whether someone has a GISP or not for some specific positions with more respondents.

Before I take the deep dive into a few positions, I will share some information pertaining to Gross Salary vs. Years of Experience in Land Information Related Fields. 

Salary vs. Experience

The following is a Box & Whisker Chart with Outliers (Graphic Explanation, Definitive Explanation) and it identifies the distribution of Salary Ranges compared to experience ranges across all responses that had each data point.

Salary vs. Gender Identity

Here are statistics related to all responses:

Number of responses135
Mean $62,870.37
Median $62,500.00
Mode $52,500.00

Here are the number of responses and average wage of each gender category:

ResponseNumberAverage Gross Salary
Prefer Not to Answer5$67,500

I will share that the highest earning non-male, was a female, paid in the $80-85,000 range.  This would fall in 15th place.  However, some of the higher earning responses in the top fifteen did not indicate gender.

Salary vs. GISP

Is it worth getting your GISP?  The consensus of a Fall Panel discussion said yes.  Here then, is the average gross salary adjusted for whether the individual has a GISP from our survey responses:

ResponseNumberAve. Gross Sal.
YES25 $ 73,854.17
NO115 $ 60,848.21

Salary vs. Satisfaction

Not surprisingly the Most satisfied people made the most. 

Extremely Satisfied3
Very Satisfied47
Somewhat Satisfied68
Not So Satisfied13
Not at all Satisfied3

Salary Comparison Within a Reported Position Category

GIS Coordinator

Let us compare our most common position based on responses, the GIS Coordinator Position. There were 21 people who identified themselves as the GIS Coordinator.  All were public positions.  All were white or caucasian.  Eleven were female and ten were male.  The average wage for the position was $65,818.  The average male wage was $65,500, while the average female wage was $66,136.  In this position, wage equity across gender appears to have stabilized.  However, Let’s look even closer.  How about GISP vs. No GISP?  There were 7 GISPs and their average wage was $71,071, while the average wage for those without a GISP was $63,214. 

What about other factors such as experience?  Overall across the board experience does factor in a bit, but as you view the salaries compared to the increasing experience you will see some wild swings.  Experience does not seem to play as big a role in wage as one of the most experienced individuals has a low wage compared to the average, and some in the first category of experience (0-3 years), make more than the average already.  When I entered the workforce about twenty years ago, I believe that experience would have been a factor for public positions, but that no longer appears to be the case.

Another question is how much of a factor is your level of education?  Of the fourteen in this position who achieved a Bachelor Degree, they earned a gross salary of $63,929 on average.  There were three who had achieved a Master’s Degree and they averaged $74,167 for gross salary and none of them had a GISP.  So it would appear that the higher degree will definitely account for bringing home more money but that GISP will as well, because those who earned that Bachelors and paired it with a GISP made an average of $66,500, outpacing those with a Bachelors that did not at $62,500.

Other GIS related positions

I also looked at the other positions in the GIS hierarchy, both above and below GIS Coordinator.  For instance, the average wage of female GIS Technicians trails that of male GIS Technicians by $1250.  A female GIS Specialist would bring in $56,875 compared to their male counterparts at $57,917, again around one thousand less per year.  A female and male GIS Analyst would both expect to make $64,167.   Where we see a real disparity is at the GIS Manager position.  In this case a female GIS Manager would receive on average $57,500 compared to a male counterpart averaging $79,500.  So, after positions being reasonably close or the same in annual wages, we see a large departure at the GIS Manager Position.  Ironically at the position of GIS Administrator we see a female outpace males at $72,500 compared to $67,500 – although that is a small sample size of three positions.  It appears that the mid-level positions are experiencing some level of equity in pay, but upper-level management positions are still more likely to be held by males and we start to see more of a discrepancy in gross average salary. 

Non-GIS positions

Comparing the rest of the individual positions reported, such as Surveyor or Land Records Administrator and their respective data, due to small sample size, is an exercise not worth the effort.  You can find similar trends found above if you look for them, but also outliers.

In Conclusion

Anything the data tries to tell us may be deceptive and perhaps some of the information that I shared was not statistically significant? However, you can draw any conclusions from the summary of data, if you wish to do so, keeping in mind that there are factors we cannot account for.  There could be individuals who have just earned a GISP designation for instance or people who have just recently achieved a new position classification, and their wages have yet to catch up.  In some cases these positions may be in wildly different markets, with a considerable cost of living discrepancy, all factors I cannot account for.

The downfall of using wage ranges in the questionnaire is you cannot get comparisons that are as accurate as they could be.  Therefore, the data represented in the following charts and graphs was pushed to the center of the wage range.  Theoretically, this means that someone making approximately $49,000 in gross salary is identified as making $47,500, while someone making approximately $50,500 is represented as if they made $52,500.  I also had to adjust the ranges of experience, opting to push the responses to the highest number in the range for comparative purposes.  So, the results are effectively, a not more than X years of experience situation.  For example, 3 years of experience, could be anyone from 0-3 years of experience.  Keep that in mind when reviewing the data.  If I were to do this again, I would lean on my initial instinct to allow people to select their wage and experience with a slide bar or simply enter it in a text box.

In closing, perhaps a couple years down the road, a similar survey may be done. It no doubt would be an improvement upon this effort. Some of the overall responses from this survey can at least can be used as a bench mark, for comparative purposes, against future results, even if they are a bit flawed. To all of you who went through the effort to take the Salary & Satisfaction Survey, I thank you.

2 Comments on “Salary & Satisfaction Survey Part 3 of 3: Apples to Apples?

  1. Thanks Jeremy for pulling together some really interesting and useful information. What follows is not bashing your analysis work in the least! Something you noted about the GISP got my attention, and it reminded me I’ve seen similar results in other surveys. In my opinion, readers need to proceed with caution when considering the affect GISP has upon salary. For example, are folks who obtain their GISP already financially better-off, and therefore more likely to get their GISP? Possibly; it’s not cheap to get and keep your GISP. Are GISPs generally more experienced, have more time in the industry, and therefore bring home a higher salary by those facts alone? Seems very likely, but I can’t find readily-available stats on the average age/experience level of current GISPs to prove or disprove my own theory. Heck, is somebody who has a GISP more likely to care about taking GIS salary surveys?? I have no idea, but I do wonder about that. And I think there are other factors like education, type of work performed, public vs private industry, do they manage others, geographic location, and more, that would require a fairly deep statistical analysis to truly draw useful conclusions. The GISCI wants you to focus on results from the 2017 URISA salary survey that say GISPs earn $10k more per year. I think it’s most accurate to say people who responded to the URISA survey that have their GISP earn $10k more per year… not that a GISP will get you more money. Is getting a GISP bad? Nope. Is it definitely going to earn you a bigger paycheck? Dig deeper if that’s your only reason for taking the test.

    • I agree that you need to take the results with a grain of salt as we have small sample sizes to deal with. As I noted the GIS Coordinator was the best position, due to the number of respondents, to try and draw conclusions. We also had a similar number in each gender so it was a good place to start, but we probably still don’t have enough respondents to demonstrate clear trends. One downfall of using the GIS Coordinator position for comparisons, is all of those positions are public, so it takes an entire sector of the workforce out. When you sort by experience or other factors we are still left with small sample sizes so it is difficult to say what the complete impact is of having a GISP is on your wages.

      A GISP obviously demonstrates a mastery of abilities, which one would assume can help you obtain a new position. If that new position is a higher wage than the one you are currently in perhaps that is where you are getting the most value out of it. If you are not planning on leaving your current position I would assume the reasons for gaining certification would be more for self value.

      It definitely would be a good idea to consult with your employer if you are simply looking at a GISP as a pathway to earning a higher wage.