Compensation and Classification

The Compensation and Classification team strives to serve the departments and personnel at Utah State University by performing the following tasks:

  • Reviews requests to establish new positions and recommends assignment of the appropriate classification (job title) including whether the position is non-exempt or exempt from provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act regarding paying of overtime.
  • Reviews requests to evaluate existing positions to determine whether a change in classification is appropriate.
  • Reviews proposed salary increases for employees in executive, administrative, and staff positions if the proposed salary increase is above the midpoint of the salary range.
  • Reviews hiring offers to candidates when the proposed salary is above the midpoint of the salary range.
  • Provides processes, guidelines, advice, and counsel to assist management in making individual pay decisions.
  • Maintains a list of classification titles (e.g. creates new titles, eliminates obsolete titles, etc.)
  • Prepares job descriptions and maintains online repository of such documents.
  • Participates in comprehensive annual salary surveys and determines which USU jobs adequately match survey jobs to use as benchmark jobs.
  • Periodically updates the Salary Grade Table and other elements of the salary structure.

Our Compensation Philosophy

Utah State University is committed to providing a competitive total compensation package, including salary and benefits, that will attract, retain, and reward high-performing employees at all levels. Utah State University strives to make employee compensation externally competitive, internally equitable, and performance based.

Utah State University recognizes the need to attract and retain capable, motivated, and dedicated employees to carry out the University’s mission and support University strategies and values.   In support of this philosophy, Utah State University has established a total compensation package that includes a generous contribution towards retirement and health insurance premiums.

As salary is the primary element of the total compensation package, the staff salary structure, and its accompanying policies and procedures, supports department managers and employees by adhering to the following principles.

  1. Competitiveness: Salary ranges for a majority of positions are based on benchmark data acquired from higher education, nationwide, industry, and local labor market surveys.
  2. Internal Equity: Jobs with similar qualifications, scope, complexity of duties, and impact are assigned to similar salary grades.
  3. Flexibility: Salary structure provides a framework to support a diverse, complex, decentralized organization to accommodate differences in job requirements, the job market, employee performance, and each department’s financial resources.
  4. Consistency: Policies and procedures are provided with an aim to ensure that similar jobs are paid equitably across the University.
  5. Transparency: Managers and employees have access to job-related content, pay guidelines, and salary grades.

Frequently Asked Questions


How is the pay of each job title determined at USU?

Most positions (excluding faculty, coaching, and hourly positions) are assigned a salary range based on the salary structure implemented for the current fiscal year. While pay is the most significant and visible aspect, it is only one component of the total compensation package USU provides to employees.

Why aren’t executive leadership titles such as Vice-President, Assistant Vice-President, Executive Director, Director, Associate Director, etc. included in the page titled, “Job Titles, Salary Grades, and Job Descriptions”?

Positions with these titles are assigned to multiple salary grades depending on the size, scope, complexity, and mission criticality of the specific program or function each position leads or manages. To determine the appropriate salary grade, Human Resources first consults external market data for each specific position. If market data does not exist for a specific position, Human Resources uses internal equity as a guide for assigning the salary grade. Internal equity means that the subject position is assigned to the same salary grade as another position whose program is comparable in terms of size, scope, complexity, and mission criticality.

How is my pay determined at USU?

Your manager makes individual pay decisions after considering such factors as your qualifications, experience, and performance; financial feasibility; and internal equity. The salary structure provides the framework for such decisions.

What is the total compensation package?

In addition to salary, the total compensation package USU provides to employees includes a generous contribution to retirement and a substantial contribution to health and dental insurance premiums. The approximate value of the benefits package is 45% of the employee’s salary.

See HR Benefits for more specific information.


Salary Structure Adjustment

How will adjustments to the salary structure affect my pay?

No employee’s pay is automatically adjusted (either upward or downward) due to adjustments to the salary structure. Individual managers make pay decisions after considering such factors as financial feasibility, employee performance, and internal equity.

How often is the salary structure updated?

Human Resources conducts periodic reviews of Utah State University’s salary structure for benefited staff to address market changes and best practices. For several months prior to making adjustments to the salary structure, it is evaluated and updated to better align with the current market to:

  • Provide competitive, market based salaries for recruitment and retention.
  • Accommodate salary growth, especially for those who are either paid above, or approaching, the maximum of their salary range.

How is the salary structure developed?

Developing the salary structure involves the following steps:

  1. Obtaining salary and job description information from various surveys, including a national survey of doctoral-granting universities, a survey of northern Utah employers which includes businesses, local government, and higher education institutions, and a survey of specific occupations.
  2. Matching USU positions to survey positions to identify benchmark job titles (i.e. jobs with similar qualifications and responsibilities).
  3. Assigning USU benchmark jobs to salary ranges in the updated Salary Grade Table.
  4. Assigning remaining job titles to comparable salary ranges in the updated Salary Grade Table depending on the relationship to the benchmark job titles.
  5. Reviewing initial salary range assignments and making adjustments as appropriate.

How many jobs are matched with survey jobs?

After extensive market analysis, Human Resources was able to match a substantial majority of USU jobs with survey jobs, resulting in 84% of staff employees with job titles for which the salary range is based directly on survey data.

Is benchmarking based on the job description or the job title?

Benchmarking matches are based on the comparison of the job description. The job title has little bearing on a USU job being matched to a survey job. To qualify as a benchmark, the USU job description and the survey job description must have at least a 70% match in job duties. 

Why is matching jobs to the market so important?

University pay programs must be sensitive to the wider labor market because we compete with other employers (both private and public) for the best talent. Matching our jobs to similar jobs in the market is the foundation for a market-based salary structure and enables us to build a salary structure that aligns with the market.

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