A good introduction to salary surveys is the Salary Survey Guidebook, published this year by the American Compensation Association and the American Management Association (602-922-2020, $95). It includes more than a dozen articles about the world of salary surveys and lists more than 80 organizations that conduct them.

Abbott Langer & Associates offers several surveys specific to small companies. Its "Compensation in Smaller Manufacturing Firms," for instance, sells for $375.

Increasingly, the Internet affords direct access to salary information. For a $100 annual subscription for unlimited usage, Wageweb allows you to price jobs by industry, size of company, and location. CompGeo Online, a service of the Clayton Wallis Co., will perform similar searches for as little as $39 per query. And the Institute of Management and Administration's SalaryZone offers such a service for $40 per request.

The Hay Group's recently introduced PayNet may be the most advanced on-line resource. It allows subscribers unlimited access to a database of 600 jobs, surveyed across 3,000 companies and more than 2 million workers. But it also has two significant drawbacks: the smallest category is the one comprising companies with less than $300 million in revenues, and the annual U.S. subscription rate is a painfully high $3,750.

Finally, there's Stern's Compensation & Benefits SourceFinder, by Gerry Stern and Yvette Borcia (Michael Daniels, Publishers, 800-773-0029, 1998, $99.95), an annotated bibliography and directory of 1,200 compensation and benefits surveys. A subheading in the index makes it searchable for small-company-specific surveys.