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Self-Sufficiency Employment Estimator Frequently Asked Questions

Self-Sufficiency Employment Estimator Frequently Asked Questions


What is a self-sufficiency estimator?
A self-sufficiency estimator displays the amount of income that an individual or family, in a particular area, would need to provide themselves with basic services without public or private assistance. For more information on self-sufficiency:


Will this estimator help me get a job?
The estimator provides you with regional occupational information (wages, education, experience, employment outlook) so that you can make informed career choices.


Does this estimator guarantee a certain wage level, if I pursue a particular occupation?
The estimator returns median wages for occupations in your region. In the region, half the people employed in a given occupation will make less than the median wage listed and half the people will make more . Your wage may be higher or lower than the median.


How are the self sufficiency wages for my family calculated?
The estimates are based on the Self-Sufficiency Report for New York State.. The amounts from the 2010 Report are increased by the Consumer Price Inflation Index for the Northeast Region or New York City Metropolitan Area.

Data Entry

There are no children in our household; can we still use the estimator?
Enter your family size as the number of adults and leave the child fields at zero.


I am pregnant. Do I count as two people?
For planning purposes we suggest you indicate your unborn child as an infant.


The estimator only lets me enter two adults, but there are more than two adults in my household what should I do?
Enter two adults. The data used for this calculator is limited to a one or two adult household. Family composition which includes more than two adults cannot be accurately estimated using this tool.


I will be moving to another county in New York State, what location should I use?
You can use the estimator to calculate self sufficiency wages in any county in New York State. If you will be developing a career plan and/or starting training or education after your move, you may wish to use the county to which you will be moving.


What region do I live in?
Please click here to identify your region. In addition, the Self-Sufficiency Estimator will automatically identify the region associated with your county of residence.


I have some additional questions about using the calculator and the results. Who can help me?
For additional assistance using the estimator please visit your local Career Center. To find one closest to your home, visit:

Estimator Results

What is a median wage?
The median wage is the wage "in the middle." Half the people in the region employed in a given occupation will make less than the median wage listed, and half the people will make more.


I want to see all the occupations and median wages in my region, is that information available?
The New York State Department of Labor website page on Occupational Wages provides the average and median wages by region.


What does "Typical Experience Required" mean?

The "Typical Experience Required" displays the work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for other, more formal types of training or education. Occupations are assigned one of the following four categories that deal with length of time spent gaining related work experience:

  • More than 5 years. This is assigned to occupations if more than 5 years of work experience in a related occupation is typically needed for entry. Examples include construction managers and computer and information systems managers.

  • 1 to 5 years. To enter occupations in this category, workers typically need 1-5 years of work experience in a related occupation. Examples include marketing managers and database administrators.

  • Less than 1 year. Examples of occupations that typically need less than 1 year of work experience in a related occupation include restaurant cooks and industrial truck and tractor operators.

  • None. No work experience in a related occupation is typically needed. Examples are audiologists and actuaries.


What does "On-the-job Training" mean?

This category encompasses any additional training or preparation that is typically needed, once employed in an occupation, to attain competency in the skills needed in that occupation. Training is occupation-specific rather than job-specific; skills learned can be transferred to a position in a different company in that same occupation.


What does "minimum education level" mean?

The education requirement reflects all people in that occupation including experienced workers. It is an estimation of the education most employers would desire.


What factors are taken into account for the employment outlook?
Two aspects of each occupation are used to determine its descriptor:

  1. Projected total number of annual openings over the projection period.

  2. Projected percentage growth rate over the projection period.

These two aspects are based on detailed occupational projections prepared by the New York State Department of Labor. (Technical notes explaining the occupational projections are available here.)


What does "expected annual openings" mean?

It reflects the annual number of job openings expected in the occupation due to growth and replacement need.


Why do the "Employment Outlook" and "Expected Annual Openings" not always match?
Some occupations employ a smaller overall number of people or there is more overall movement through that occupation to other occupations (employees come and go faster) or the occupation is expected to decline or increase at a faster rate than other occupations. Because of this, a ‘Favorable’ outlook does not always necessitate the same number of openings.


Why do some occupations have "N/A" in fields?

Confidentiality concerns may prevent the disclosure of some data. For example, there may be too few people in an occupation from whom to gather information; to protect their identity, information must be suppressed.


What if no occupations come up when I have it sorted by a particular education level?
There may be no occupations at that level of education. Try other education levels.


Why is the self-sufficiency estimate based on my county of residence, but the occupations displayed are based on my region of residence?
The cost of living varies from county to county because of taxes and other costs. However, occupation data are more reliable based on a regional perspective. Individuals often work outside of their counties boundaries and businesses hire individuals from different counties.


What happens if I enter a negative dollar amount as other earned income?
An error message is displayed. The Self-Sufficiency Estimator provides a threshold amount for basic needs without public or private subsidies. A negative number does not represent earned income.