Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

UCAP (University Career Architecture Project) represents a complete re-design of the current job and compensation system for classified staff and appointed professionals.

Several important goals are guiding our efforts. One is to create a clear job structure, or “architecture,” that will help employees envision their possible paths to career advancement. Another is to benchmark UA salaries against those at our peer universities and other organizations with which we compete for talent. Additionally, we will implement an annualized practice to re-benchmark jobs, assess market movement and adjust salary ranges when necessary to ensure our compensation programs remain current.

Implementation for UCAP is scheduled for January 2020. 

Employees can provide feedback directly via the project website or through the dedicated project email address, As engagement strategies roll out, plenty of opportunities to ask questions and provide feedback will be available. Additionally, employees can direct their questions to Advisory Council members, Project Team members, shared governance members, and/or their organizational consultants.

The population of employees that are in scope for UCAP include our appointed professionals and classified staff.  Employees who are out of scope include:  faculty, graduate assistants, post docs, student employees, Career Track, and continuing status/eligible employees.

The UCAP initiative will replace current Classified Staff and Appointed Professional employment categories with the University Staff employment category. Every in-scope position will be mapped to a job within the Career Architecture, which is a structure of market-based job functions and families reflective of the vast array of non-faculty professions we have at the University.  Employees who are currently classified will have the option to opt-in to transition to University Staff. If a classified employee chooses to opt-out, they will remain in their current classified job. However, pay structures for existing classified jobs will remain unchanged and classified staff would be required to transition to University Staff and the new functions and families for promotions or job changes. A Classified employee must make their decision to Opt-in or out by December 6, 2019. If no action is taken in UAccess Employee, the employee will remain in their current classified job. 

As a result of UCAP, there will be a new "University Staff" employment category. This category will greatly streamline University policies and processes.

University staff are employed at will. In other words, the need for year-to-year appointments will be eliminated for Appointed employees. University staff will be employed without an express contract of employment for a defined period of time. This new category will not reduce an employee's current compensation, benefits, training, or career development opportunities, regardless of their current employment category. The University Staff policies are available for review prior to employee’s results being issued on October 29, 2019.

  • You may retain your current title as a working titles
  • Your pay will not be reduced
  • Your retirement plan elections can remain the same
  • Your vacation accrual rates and balances will not be reduced

Shared Language (Consistent job titles): Common career models, level descriptors, title guidelines and compensation ranges to allow for transparent dialogue. You will see how your position and assigned UCAP job compares to positions across the University because positions performing similar responsibilities will be grouped together in similar job titles.

Career Possibilities (Advancement opportunities): Career paths will be more defined and it will be more evident what skills and abilities are needed to seek advancement opportunities. This helps provide career progression opportunities for the vast array of professions at the University.

Informed Decisions (Data-informed pay): Relevant market data for the University, managers, and employees to make quicker and more informed decisions. Pay grades will be linked to market data. 

If your most recent contract ends January 26, 2020, it is because you will be transitioned to the University Staff employment category beginning January 27, 2020.

Yes. All Classified Staff in their probationary period as of January 27, 2020, will transition to University Staff.

If an you choose to opt out now, beginning March 9th you will have the option to request a job change transaction submitted by their college/division through UAccess Manager Self Service. At that time you will transition to University Staff in your final position mapping. This will be available at any time.

Classified staff who opt out, will still have their compensation evaluated against the pay grade associated with their position mapping results.  Classified staff who opt-out, as well as University Staff, who are below minimum of their University Staff pay grade are expected to be brought to minimum by March 1, 2020.  Assuming a classified staff employee meets all other eligibility criteria for an annual increase program (benefits eligible, performance, time in job, compensation falls within range etc.) will be eligible for future merit increases.  University leadership evaluates financial resources and defines annual increase program eligibility, which may vary year to year.


Employees can maintain current retirement plan elections. All new hires into the University Staff employment group will have the option to elect either the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) or the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP).

Classified employees who choose to transition to the University Staff employment group will have the option to switch from ASRS to ORP or remain in ASRS. Appointed Professionals have already had the opportunity to select either ASRS or ORP and will not have the option to change retirement plans. Employees have a one-time opportunity to select a retirement plan during continuous employment, and this decision is irrevocable.

Begin by viewing this 20-minute recorded webinar about your new choices. The University provides more detailed information about ASRS and ORP on its Retirement Plans webpage. To see the plans side-by-side, view the plan comparison PDF.

Find even more information on the ASRS website or the ORP Guide.

The University of Arizona will host webinars and other opportunities to meet with representatives from Human Resources, Fidelity Investments, and TIAA in January and February 2020.

You may also directly schedule an appointment with a Fidelity or TIAA representative.

You may also speak with a representative from Human Resources by calling 520-621-3660 or emailing with questions. Although financial advice cannot be provided, the features of each plan can be discussed.

Classified Staff who transition to University Staff will have 30 days from January 27, 2020, to make a one-time irrevocable retirement plan choice. This election will be made in UAccess Employee.

The change will take effect on the first day of the next pay period after you make your election.

Change Made                                    Takes Effect On

January 27–February 9                   February 10

February 10–February 23              February 24

February 24–February 25              March 9

If you do not take action to change your retirement plan during the election period, you will remain in ASRS for the duration of continuous employment. You will not have the option to make a retirement choice later.

Yes, the number of years you have contributed to ASRS while working for the Arizona University System will count towards the five-year requirement to vest under the ORP plan. When you are vested, the University’s matching contributions become yours and are deposited into your ORP account.

Your previous contributions will remain with ASRS while you are actively employed. You will not be able to access your ASRS contributions until you leave the University. At that time, you can withdraw your contributions (refund) or leave them with ASRS and collect a pension when you are eligible to retire. However, ASRS determines the pension amount based on how long contributions are made to ASRS, so the pension will be smaller based on fewer years of contributions.

If you began contributing to ASRS before July 2011, you are partially vested in the University’s contributions at five years of service and fully vested at 10 years. If you began contributing to ASRS after July 2011, you do not have access to the University's contributions.

You can create a log-in for myASRS to view your account information, including your estimated refund versus retirement benefit.

The formula to determine ASRS pension amounts considers only compensation earned during the time you were making contributions.

Pay & Leave

Pay will not be reduced as a result of the UCAP implementation. 

No pay reductions will occur. This includes employees who end up having a base salary above the new pay grade maximum. However, if an employee’s salary is above the maximum, they will not be eligible for a base salary increase until the structure is adjusted to encompass the salary or until they receive a promotion to a job with a higher pay grade. If the university determines that a merit increase pool is feasible, employees that are above the maximum of a pay grade and their performance warrants a merit increase will be eligible for the increase amount as a lump sum rather than a base salary increase.

For employees that are below the minimum of their assigned career architecture pay range, colleges/divisions are expected to increase those employees to the minimum of their assigned range by March 1, 2020 (Effective date of February 24, 2020). For those employees who are Classified and below the range, they will be expected to be brought to the minimum regardless of their decision to opt-in or out. 

Vacation accrual rates and current balances will not be reduced for current employees.

For the new University Staff employment group, vacation accrual rates will be 22 days per year (FTE proration and eligibility still applies). This is the same as current accrual rates for Appointed Personnel and Classified Staff with more than 5 years of service, but would increase the accrual rate for classified staff with less than five years of service, who elect to move to University Staff.

There will be no changes to sick time accrual.

As a one-time lump sum merit increase is compensation, it would be subject to ASRS and ORP employee deductions and employer matches.

ASRS calculates retirement benefits by using the average monthly compensation, total years credited ASRS service and a multiplier that increases with an employee’s years of service.

For example: Average Monthly Salary (Years of Service*Multiplier) = Monthly Retirement Benefit

A lump sum merit increase would slightly increase an employee’s average monthly compensation.   For more details on the retirement calculations, visit the ASRS website

No, other benefits will not change as a result of UCAP. (If you are classified staff, see the "Retirement" FAQ section).

Employees who are below the minimum will be brought to the minimum of their pay range by February 24, 2020. If a Classified employee opts out they will still be expected to be brought to the minimum of their assigned University Staff pay range. For employees that are soft funded, there will be a process to request hardship.

Unemployment benefits may be available to University Staff that lose their jobs through no fault of their own, for example, due to a loss of funding or reorganization, or because they lack the skills to perform the job. Eligibility for unemployment is determined by the Arizona - Department of Economic Security (D.E.S.). Employees may use their written notice of termination, when filing for unemployment benefits.  

However, University Staff that are terminated for misconduct may be disqualified (as determined by D.E.S.) from receiving benefits.

When an employee transitions from non-exempt to exempt, the salary is calculated by taking the hourly rate and multiplying it by 2080 hours. 2080 work hours is the standard calculation in the external market for converting an hourly rate to an annualized salary.

The reason you may see a decrease in your bi-weekly pay check is because previously as a non-exempt employee you were paid for the hours that are actually worked. As a salaried employee, your bi-weekly pay check is calculated according to an annualized salary divided by the pay periods over the fiscal year. Currently the university is using 26.2 pay periods for FY2020 to calculate bi-weekly pay.

Please see the example below:

Non-Exempt/Hourly Employee

Fiscal Work Hours

Bi-Weekly Amount

(based on 1.0 FTE/80 hrs)

Annualized Salary

(Hourly Rate * Work Hours)










Hourly Rate




Exempt/Salaried Employee

Fiscal Work Hours

Freq Annualization Factor

Bi-Weekly Amount

Annualized Salary













Annualized Salary



Work Hours/80 = Frequency Annualization Factor

For more information about how pay rates are calculated click here.

Position Mapping

Job functions and families are consistent across the University and are determined by the primary function of the job.  For example, a job that has a primary duty of Communications & Marketing will be mapped to the Communications & Marketing job function, regardless of the department that job is located in.

Position mapping to the new career framework will include using current job content, supervisor feedback and in some cases reviewing job duties and minimum qualifications according to current position descriptions or job postings.  Effort will be taken to equitably map positions with similar scope of work, minimum education and experience requirements, and level of independence.

You may keep your current title.

UCAP will involve creating a defined architecture of jobs that will have a unique job codes and job code descriptions.  Each employee in scope will be mapped to one of those jobs and carry the associated job code descriptor as a title. However, working titles will still be able to be utilized at the unique position/employee level within new guidelines established. Working titles will also be maintained in the system and can be used in the UA phone directory, business cards and signature lines.

If a position changes during the UCAP mapping process, a supervisor must review the updated job documentation to determine if the position’s mapping to the career architecture has changed. If the supervisor determines the position’s mapping has changed, they will need to update the job code in UAccess Mapping Tool. If an employee is transferred to another department, the new department will need to update the employee's mapping in UAccess according to their new role.

Employees will receive notification of their mapping results on October 29, 2019 through the UAccess system, similar to the contract process for current Appointed Professionals.  The mapping results notification will detail each employee’s position mapping, including function, family, career stream, level and pay grade. Classified Staff will have to indicate in UAccess by December 6th, 2019 if they will opt-in to transition to the University Staff employment group or remain in their current Classified job. 

If an employee has questions about their final mapping, they will be able to request a reassessment of their mapping. Employees and supervisors will need to provide job documentation that is an accurate representation of the work being performed and justification for the reassessment request. More details on this process will be provided as we get closer to issuing final results.

Positions are mapped to the structure based on the job itself, which includes the impact, scope and responsibility of the job as well as typical minimum requirements.  This job mapping is not a reflection of individual employee performance or experience.

There are several steps throughout the project where we will gather input from subject matter experts in order to capture the uniqueness of the various jobs across the University.   The project team will establish occupational panels comprised of campus representatives to help us understand and draft language reflective of the work being done in all units.

Classified employees will go through the process of having their position mapped to a job within the new architecture.  Once we have completed the mapping phase and developed the new pay structure, all employees in scope of the project will receive notification of how their position was mapped to the architecture, as well as what that means from the perspective of becoming University Staff and the new pay range.  At that time, employees who are currently classified will have the option to transition to the University Staff employment category with their new job mapped within the career architecture or opt out and remain in their current classified staff position. For any promotions or job changes, Classified Staff would be required to transition a job within the Career Architecture and the University Staff employment group.

The position description web form is a tool to help supervisors identify principal responsibilities, minimum requirements, and work dimensions to compare to the career architecture developed in JDXpert. This tool will help facilitate conversations between supervisors and employees in determining the correct mapping.

The anchor points for the architecture are based on reviewing external market data/salary surveys to identify benchmarks jobs.  The starting point for creating the architecture is based on the number of levels identified in the market data.  We evaluate the need and risk of adding levels that are not market referenced, as we want to ensure a market referenced architecture.  If you are unable to map based on a missing level, please email


If a supervisor is changing, it must be accurately changed in UAccess to ensure the appropriate supervisor is mapping an employee. Once the change is made in UAccess the new supervisor will be able to see their employee under the UCAP Mapping Tool and proceed with the Mapping process. The correct super supervisor can be added or updated by selecting the “Request MSS Transaction” tile and navigating to the “Position Create/Modify Position” link. Click here for additional instructions.

The correct super supervisor can be added or updated by selecting the “Request MSS Transaction” tile and navigating to the “Position Create/Modify Position” link. Click here for additional instructions.

There will be no changes to the way jobs are posted until the career architecture and pay structure have been implemented. Continue using titles and current processes for job postings.

A supervisor can change their employee’s mapping until the HR Department Approver or College/Division Approver has submitted and approved the mappings.


The process where the UCAP team, in collaboration with University leadership and managers, reviews position mapping at the organizational and functional level by analyzing and discussing trends and irregularities. There are two calibration stages. The first will occur once position mapping has been completed. The second will occur once the pay structure has been developed.

Calibration promotes consistency in the career architecture across functions and families, which allows the ability to create a shared language across the University regarding the appropriate placement of positions into jobs and related pay grades. Ultimately, calibration provides a compensation system that delivers the tools and processes for all of us to make informed decisions regarding career advancement and associated compensation. 



Applicants will begin to receive information about UCAP effective June 2019. Human Resources will provide UCAP information through our UACareers applicant portal and through language inserted in all classified staff and appointed postings

For applicants, the process to apply for jobs, both before and after implementation, will not change as a result of UCAP. For internal applicants, employees will be able to look at posted positions and utilize the Career Architecture to help identify possible paths for career growth. Through UCAP the university will also be implementing a market-informed pay structure, which will help hiring managers make informed pay decisions regarding salary offers.


Prior to implementation, there will be no changes to the posting process. Once UCAP is implemented, the HR Compensation and Recruitment teams will review in-scope postings for adherence to the Career Architecture and salary administration guidelines.

Beginning January 27, 2020, all classified and most appointed postings will be processed as University Staff postings. Postings processed prior to January 27, 2020, as classified and appointed must be cancelled and reposted under the appropriate University Staff classification (if the department wishes to recruit additional applicants). Please click here for more information about which positions are in-scope of UCAP.

University Staff posting templates will contain fields for UA Titles (working title) and Job Code Titles (UCAP title). The University Staff templates will also contain UCAP-related fields including function, family, career stream/level, job code title, pay grade, and the associated salary range.


Yes. Human Resources will provide conversion language in offer letters for individuals hired beginning July 1, 2019, but before January 27, 2020. Human Resources will also provide offer letter language for those hires who are offered a position prior to UCAP, but who will start after January 27, 2020.

Non-ancillary classified staff employees hired before July 27, 2019, will be the only employee group with the option to opt out of transitioning to University Staff.

Prior to implementation, there will be no changes to the new hire request. Once UCAP is implemented, the New Hire Request will have all applicable fields available for the new Career Architecture titles/positions.


A reassessment request is an opportunity for an employee to have their position mapping reviewed. The request will be reviewed by a supervisor, HR Department approver, College/Division approver and Compensation.

Instructions on how to request a reassessment will be included in the employee results letter. You will be required to fill out a Reassessment form and an updated position description form. This will be submitted to your supervisor. Once your supervisor has finalized, they will submit it to the HR Department approver who will input the MSS Exception Transaction. All transactions must be submitted by November 15, 2019.  

Employees will receive an updated results letter once Compensation has finished reviewing the reassessment request.

The goal is to have all reassessment requests reviewed before the deadline for Classified staff to make their decision about opting in to transition to University Staff, December 6, 2019. This timeframe may fluctuate depending on the volume of reassessment requests that the Compensation team receives. If all reassessment requests are not able to be reviewed before December 6, Classified employees will still be able to choose whether they are opting in or out once they receive their results.

Yes, if a Classified employee requests a reassessment, they will still have the opportunity to opt-in or out once they receive the results of their reassessment.

If you don’t think there is an existing job code for your position, you can leave this part of the form blank. When the HR Department approver submits the transaction, they can select the “Unable to Map” option.

Yes, all reassessment requests must be submitted for review. A supervisor does not have to agree with the job code requested, but must confirm that the position is accurately described in the position description. The supervisor must also input any necessary comments about the position mapping in the Reassessment Request form.