When Americans buy a home, they compare the prices of similar houses in the same area. But when it comes to securing a new job, many may fail to do their research and end up leaving money on the table.
The typical worker is earning about $7,500 less per year, or about 13.3 percent, than they should be, according to new research from employment site Glassdoor, which analyzed pay data from 1.3 million U.S. employees. The jobs with the biggest gaps in what employees actually earn versus what they could make tend to be in the most in-demand sectors: health care, tech and finance.
Despite a growing economy, many American workers have suffered from stagnant and slow-growing wages, a disparity that has puzzled economists. Some have pointed to the decline of organized labor as a culprit, but workers may also be hampered by a lack of transparency. Data on what others in your field are earning can help workers negotiate higher salaries, although many Americans accept the first offer from a prospective employer.
"It's like owning a home: People look at the value of their home based on local indicators," said Glassdoor community expert Scott Dobroski. "With pay, people aren't doing that. We do it with our homes, but not with ourselves."
More than two-thirds of women don't negotiate salary when they take a new job, compared with about one-half of men, he added (Employees can benchmark their pay using Glassdoor's Know Your Worth tool.)
"For some reason, men are much more comfortable negotiating their salaries," he said. "This is a takeaway for all employees. Knowing your current market value is irrespective of gender and ethnicity."
Employees working in tech, health care and finance may be in the best position to negotiate for higher salaries, simply because demand is so high to fill jobs. It's important to back up why you believe you should be paid more, Dobroski said. Looking for a job elsewhere can help workers find better-paying roles.
"If you are making a job decision based only on pay, that's not enough," he added.
Other issues to consider are include benefits, the mission of the company and career advancement potential.
Read on to learn about the nine most underpaid jobs in America.
9. Marketing manager: Wage gap, $14,107
Marketing managers earn a base salary of $80,000, but their current market value is $94,107. That means the typical worker in this job should earn 15 percent more, or a jump of $14,107, Glassdoor said.
Marketing managers are increasingly in demand because companies are seeking to grow market share while also ensuring their brand is viewed positively by consumers.
8. Medical assistant: Wage gap, $5,320
Medical assistants earn a median base salary of $30,000, but should earn $35,320, or an increase of 15.1 percent, Glassdoor said.
These health care workers help doctors and hospitals with administrative and clinical tasks. It's a job that's projected to grow 23 percent through 2024 because of demand from aging baby boomers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
7. Software engineer: Wage gap, $17,943
Software engineers typically earn a base salary of $100,000, but they could be earning as much as $117,943, or an increase of 15.2 percent, Glassdoor said.
Because software engineers are in such demand, they could earn much more than they typically do.
6. Web designer: Wage gap, $9,508
Web designers earn a median base salary of $52,000, but could earn a market value of $61,508, or a 15.5 percent bump, Glassdoor said.
Many web designers are self-employed, and it's a fast-growing occupation thanks to demand for mobile apps and e-commerce, according to the BLS.
5. Pharmacist: Wage gap, $23,261
Pharmacists earn a median base salary of $118,000, but should be making about $141,261, or about 16.5 percent more.
Pharmacists are among the best-paid American workers, but they're also in demand, thanks to the aging U.S. population and increasing use of pharmaceuticals.
4. Java developer: Wage gap, $16,792
Java developers earn a median base salary of about $78,000, but could be making about $94,792, or an increase of 17.7 percent, according to Glassdoor.
These workers are in demand because Java is a widely used used programming language. Glassdoor has more than 100,00 job openings for Java developers at companies ranging from investment firm Vanguard to vacation rental service HomeAway.
3. Research assistant: Wage gap, $7,935
Research assistants earn about $30,000, but the job's current market value is $37,935, an increase of 20.9 percent, Glassdoor said.
These workers gather data, help conduct experiments, and work in fields such as biotechnology or finance. Glassdoor currently has more than 69,000 research assistant job openings.
2. Certified nursing assistant: Wage gap, $6,505
These nursing assistants, who help with basic care for patients in nursing homes and hospitals, earn a median base salary of $24,000, but have a current market value of $30,505, or a 21.3 percent increase, Glassdoor said.
Certified nursing assistants and other nursing aids are increasingly in demand because of the aging U.S. population. Jobs for these workers will grow 17 percent through 2024, or much faster than average, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.
1. Emergency medical technician: Wage gap, $7,771
Emergency medical technicians earn a median base salary of $27,636, but should be earning $35,407, or about 21.9 percent more, Glassdoor said.
EMTs are often the first responders to a medical emergency. The job is forecast to grow 24 percent through 2024 because of age-related emergencies involving older Americans, as well as natural disasters and violence, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.