Google doc listing 13,000 employees' salaries goes viral

Thousands of employees across the country are getting candid about their salaries, work experience and titles in an effort to take the "mystery" out of compensation.

Author and management consultant Alison Green — who launched the popular workplace blog Ask A Manager — wanted her followers to get a better picture about what certain jobs pay, and whether geography, experience or age plays a part. So, this week, Green posted a Google survey asking people how much they make.

"It’s hard to get real-world information about what jobs pay, especially tailored to a particular industry or geographic region. Online salary websites are often inaccurate, and people can get weird when you ask them directly," Green explained in the Wednesday blog post.

Green then directed people to a short survey, which asks participants to list their age range, industry, job title, annual base salary, location, and years of post-graduation experience. After a user submits his or her responses, the survey lists the answers on a sortable Google spreadsheet. Everyone's identity remains anonymous.

The document, which users are able to view publicly, has since gone viral with more than 13,600 responses as of Friday afternoon.

People across the country — from Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Portland, Oregon — have participated. And the document offers some interesting insights about workers' vast industries and how location and years of experience can come into play.

For example, a New York City editor in media makes $154,000 while a person with the same title in Nashville makes $60,000. A zookeeper at a wildlife conservation in California (the exact city wasn't specified) states he or she makes $38,000 and a zookeeper at a nearby parks and recreation facility makes a similar $40,000 in San Jose.

Roughly 25 people said they made at least $200,000 annually. Surprisingly, those salaries weren't only coming from major U.S. cities. An attorney in Louisville, Kentucky, with about 10 years of experience, a vice president of risk management in the hospitality and gaming industry in Las Vegas with up to 40 years of experience and the director of legal at an electronics company with up to two decades of experience are among those who take home $200,000.

Hundreds of people replied directly to Green's blog post, thanking the author for putting the survey together and encouraging transparency in the workplace.


"This is incredible! Thanks for the resource and info!" one blogger replied.

"This is super interesting to me! Way more local people and people in my industry in general than I would have guessed based on the active commenters," another observed.

"I am not getting any work done, I just keep refreshing the spreadsheet and sorting it in multiple different ways," a third added.

However, some argued the survey fails to provide a complete picture, pointing out that level of education, race, gender, among other factors aren't accounted for.

"I wish gender was a category! I’d be v curious to see the comparisons," one user requested.

"That last question is a sticky one because it assumes that a person has a degree. I attended college for approximately 50% of a semester. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished without a degree and want other people to know that you do not have to attend college to be successful. The way this question is worded is an issue and perpetuates the perception that if one has not attended college, they are 'less than," another wrote, in part.