A prospective employer has asked my son to give an acceptable salary range on a job application. How does he find out what the appropriate range should be for an entry-level job as an engineer with a master's degree?

Ah, yes. That thorny issue of providing an acceptable salary range. The truth is that salary ranges vary widely based on one's industry, geographical location and experience level. Current salaries in many fields are also being affected by the downturn in the economy. To figure out the right answer in your area, you must research, research, research. The absolute, very best way for your son to find out the appropriate salary range for the job he wants is to find a trusted person in his field who will share some inside information. He can find this person by asking for referrals from his personal network, requesting a referral from his college's career services office to a recent alum in a similar job or becoming involved with a professional trade association where he may get some mentoring and advice. If the personal approach fails, he can also turn to the Internet for some guidance. Your son can explore salary information online or post a request for salary info on Just remember that information found on the web is generally not as accurate as information from a trusted face-to-face source. Finally, keep in mind that salary is just one piece (albeit a big one) of the compensation picture. Your son should also do some research on standard benefits packages and other nonmonetary compensation that might be available.

Should I leave my present low level government job and switch to IT field?

In case you are already qualified for IT sector job, then you can straight away try for a new job in IT sector, However, leave the current job only after getting the better new job. In case you are not suitably qualified for an IT job, then acquire the required qualification by pursuing the necessary course or training. You can also try for 'higher level' jobs in the Government sector also by applying and appearing for the tests etc. But before looking for a change of job blindly, try to gather sufficient information about jobs, career prospects, salary and compensation at various levels, the needed qualification and/or expertise etic in the IT sector.