Payscale vs Glassdoor: Which Salary Data Should You Trust?

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Payscale salary data is more reliable for both employers and job seekers. Glassdoor can potentially be helpful, but it can often be misleading. 

So why is Payscale more accurate than Glassdoor? It comes down to the data source. Payscale gets its data from three sources: employee-reported data, peer data, and survey publishers. Glassdoor, on the other hand, collects data from one source: employee-reported data. 

Let’s take a closer look at the methods these two popular salary guides use to get their numbers. 

Payscale vs Glassdoor: Comparing Data Quality 


  • Gets its data from three sources—employee reports, market data from employers, and leading survey publishers
  • Features data for over 12,000 roles, primarily in the United States, although it offers some data for countries outside the U.S.
  • Refreshes its data all the time—quarterly for employer market data and continuously for other datasets


  • Gets its data from anonymous current or former employees self-reporting 
  • Does not publish an exact number of roles for which it features salary data, but it offers 180 million reviews from over 20 countries 
  • Relies on anonymous users to update salary data when they see fit, so there’s no real guideline or benchmark here

As you can tell from this quick comparison, Glassdoor is a lot less hands-on with its data than Payscale. You can find a whole page devoted to Payscale’s data sources and methodology, with sub-pages that discuss each source in detail. Glassdoor has no such page.

Payscale and Glassdoor also present their datasets differently. And how you can interact with the data is just as important as where the data comes from. If it’s hard to view and manipulate an excellent data source, what use does it really serve? 

Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these two products. 

Payscale Overview 

Payscale offers an impressive suite of resources, tools, and products for employers and employees. Along with its trove of data from peer reports, employee reports, and survey publishers, Payscale has two compensation planning platforms: Payfactors and MarketPay. 

And if you’re a job seeker, you can benefit from Payscale’s job finder, cost of living calculator, and college ROI calculator, too. 

But since we’re focusing on salary data, let’s dig into Payfactors.

Payfactors offers a full set of compensation planning tools for businesses of all sizes, including: 

MarketPay works a lot like Payfactors. But it’s more of an enterprise compensation planning platform for HR departments. So basically, it’s Payfactors on steroids.

Since salary data is our focus here, let’s talk about Payscale and salary benchmarking.

Salary benchmarking is the practice of analyzing external salary data to determine the market rate for a certain role. There’s almost always a sweet spot to hit when you create a compensation package for a new hire. Go too high and you risk blowing your budget. Go too low and you might not get the high-quality candidates you need. 

With salary benchmarking, you can find the ideal salary range for a position. Payscale offers compensation benchmarking in both its Payfactors and MarketPay tools. Employees and employers alike benefit from these tools. 

Imagine you’re a candidate for a role as a general manager of a New York City restaurant. A high-end restaurant has offered you a salary of $55,000 a year plus benefits. According to Payscale, this is just above the median in the United States for 2024.

But you feel like your 10 years of experience, the high cost of living, and the restaurant’s pricey popularity would mean a higher salary. So you head over to Payscale and use its salary benchmarking to find out the actual salary range NYC restaurants pay their general managers. 

A screenshot of an example of pay rate data on the site Payscale

After entering more details—like your education, certifications, and skills—Payscale delivers a report to compare your offer to the national average. 

Just like you thought, $55,000 a year is way less than you should be making as a NYC general manager with 10 years of experience. 

Instead, you should be making at least $71,000, the median, or $93,000 a year on the high end. 

A screenshot demonstrating the current salary for a restaurant manager with 10 years of experience

You turn down the job offer and decide to look elsewhere. The restaurant will have to pay someone else this below-average wage. Or, if they’d taken the time to check Payscale, they could know to offer a salary closer to $75,000 to $80,000 to attract quality candidates like you.

Employers can use the Payfactors tool the same way employees do. But instead of pressing the Find Market Worth button on an initial salary estimate, they’d click the Price a Job button.

Some of Payscale’s salary benchmarking tools are free to use. With Payfactors, for example, you can get up to 25 salary reports for free. 

To find out pricing for MarketPay, you’ll need to reach out to a sales rep.

Glassdoor Overview

Glassdoor offers several tools for job seekers and employers, but it’s most famous for its anonymous company reviews and ratings. The company also offers a robust job search tool, which is powered by Indeed—Glassdoor’s sister company. 

One of Glassdoor’s more unique offerings is its Community feature. This is essentially a group of forums, called bowls, where employees can anonymously discuss all facets of their work life. It’s basically the Reddit of the work world. 

One bowl, Salary Negotiations, has over 260K members. 

A screenshot of the salary negotiations bowl that has over 269 thousand members

Others, like the Career Advice for Students and Salaries in Tech bowls, have over 1 million members each. 

These forums speak to the way Glassdoor embraces anecdotal research. An anonymous participant on a forum could say Amazon offered them $135,000, but there’s no way to verify this information. Same with the user reviews that make up the salary data. 

In other words, you won’t find many cold, hard numbers here. There’s a lot of opinion and variability.

But if you do want to use Glassdoor for salary benchmarking, it’s pretty straightforward. Much like you do with Payscale, you enter a job description and a median salary pops up. 

You can adjust the salary based on several factors. Sometimes the salary range for a position will line up with the one you’ll find in Payscale. Sometimes it won’t.

But to even use the service, you’re required to contribute a company review or a salary scale first.

A screenshot of a prompt that shows up requesting users to leave a salary review in order to access more details on the site

This can definitely be a frustrating barrier, and it may cause some people to post fake data just to bypass the system. 

Not exactly a great basis for a salary calculator. Or even an employee review aggregator. 

Glassdoor has two plan levels: free and paid.

You’ll have to contact the sales department to learn more about the paid plan.

Comparing Payscale vs Glassdoor 

Payscale is geared toward employers. Glassdoor, on the other hand, analyzes data through the employee lens.

If you’re an employer or HR team looking to figure out compensation for a specific role, Payscale offers the reliable data you need. With Payfactors and MarketPay, everyone from SMBs to global enterprises can find quality compensation data on Payscale. 

Want to compare Payscale data to other sources? You can check out our favorite Payscale competitors and alternatives here

Glassdoor is better for employees looking for the tea on a certain company before they commit to applying or working there. It’s a good way to gauge the culture of a company, even if you have to take the information with a dose of healthy skepticism. 

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