finding out the salary range for a job

I have an opportunity to interview for a scientific type job. The question of my salary requirements will come up at some time. Of course, I don’t want to shoot myself too low. How can I tactfully find out the salary range for such a position so that I don’t suggest a too low of number or so high that it will preclude my consideration.
The job is an “application specialist” on a scientific instrument for a fairly large instrument company.

If they do not bring it up during the interview there are a few ways to go about this.

A) Tell them you would prefer not to make a lateral move. [that tells them you wish to make more than your previous job]
B) If they ask your salary requirements: see (A) above.
C) If they come in waay to low for what you wish, simply ask them if there is room for negotiation. That can be harder if you lack experience, but if you have sufficient experience in working with this type of company it may help. If you are breaking into this field or are a recent college grad, you can say you would like to be in a slightly higher range, and what can YOU do to get close to it.

So based on “A” I shouldn’t give them a number first, I should request they shoot me an offer first?

It depends on what type of instrument. I work with flow cytometry. There is a very good international society, local groups, e mail forums, etc. They have done several salery polls over the years…

I was a Field Service engineer for a few years for one company and flirted with the idea of working as a app specialist.

Also, consider size of territory, expense accounts, possibliity of sales commissions (apps is the middle ground between service and sales for many of these companies and it is not unheard of to get a piece of the sales pie).

So…more info and I might have a better idea how much you should ask for…

If you know of similar positions working for the government (state or federal), government salaries are often public information. A librarian should be able to help you do the specific research. The government salary would probably be a lower bound, since private sector pay is usually higher.

In general, in any salary negotiation, it is better to have the other person give a number first. The problem is the person you’ll be negotiating with has probably heard this, too. So unless you have the upper hand in the negotiation, you should be prepared with something diplomatic to say.