Compensation Glossary

The following terminology is commonly used when discussing compensation.

The rate paid by the hour, week, month, or year to an individual for the job performed. This does not include shift differentials, overtime, incentives, benefits, or any other pay element other than base pay.

A job commonly found in the marketplace which is used as a reference point for making pay comparisons.  Pay data for these jobs are readily available in published salary surveys.

The process where the UCAP team, in collaboration with University leadership and managers, reviews position mapping at the organizational and functional level to identify mapping trends and outliers. 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.

A grouping of jobs into job functions, job families, career streams, and levels that allows for informed decisions, career possibilities, and shared language throughout the University.

A progression that describes the nature and level of work being performed. Ladders will exist for organizational contributor, professional contributor and manager/leader streams, with multiple job levels within each stream. Levels are defined by work dimensions.

The ratio between an employee's base pay and the midpoint of the salary range the job is assigned to (base pay divided by midpoint).  A compa-ratio is used to determine the relationship of an employee's pay to the market and how an employee's pay is moving through the assigned salary range.

A set of principles that guide the design and administration of a compensation system toward supporting the organization’s strategy, culture and achievement of organizational objectives.

Basic units of knowledge, skills and abilities employees must acquire or demonstrate in order to successfully perform work.

Pay differentials too small to be considered equitable. In some organizations, the term may apply to differences between:

  • Pay of supervisor and subordinates;
  • Pay of experienced and newly hired employees in the same job;
  • Midpoints in successive grades.

A commission of the federal government charged with enforcing the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and other fair employment practices legislation.

An amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 prohibiting gender-related pay differentials on jobs that are substantially equal in skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions unless the differences exist due to seniority, merit-or production-based pay system, or any other job-related factor other than gender.

Employees exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Generally, this group includes executives, administrative/professional employees, and outside sales.

A measure of an organization’s pay levels or salary ranges compared to that of its labor market competitors. External equity implies that the employer pays wages that are competitive with prevailing external market pay rates, as determined by market pricing.

A federal law governing minimum wage, overtime pay, equal pay for men and women in the same types of jobs, child labor, and record-keeping requirements. Contained within this law are the categories of exempt and non-exempt work. Exempt employees are those whose jobs are not subject to overtime payment provisions of the FLSA. Non-exempt employees are those whose jobs are subject to the overtime pay provision of the FLSA.

A standard that fairly establishes a pay level that corresponds to each job's relative value to the organization and aims to maintain appropriate parity between incumbents in the same job based on individual contribution to the organization.

The total collection of tasks, duties, and responsibilities assigned to one or more individuals whose work has the same nature and level of work.

Job architecture (sometimes called job structure, career architecture, or leveling) refers to the infrastructure or organization of jobs within the University. Job architecture encompasses job levels, job titling conventions, salary grades, career tracks, scoping factors, and equitable compensation programs based on market value. Job architecture serves as the foundation for effective pay program design.

The assignment of a job to a hierarchical structure or job architecture and salary grade based on job evaluation of job content and the going rate for comparable jobs in the external labor market.

A formal process to determine the value of jobs within the organization. The end result of job evaluation consists of an assignment of jobs to a hierarchy of grades.

Job Functions are broad categories of work that can be logically grouped together based on having similar characteristics or prerequisite skills.

Job Families are the unique occupations within a job function that can be performed at various levels based on scoping factors.


  • FUNCTION: Information Technology
  • FAMILIES: Network Administration, Desktop Support, Systems Programmer, Telecommunications, Web Developer, etc.

An annual process conducted by The Division of Human Resource's compensation team to analyze job trends and salary levels/rates paid in the market. Market data reflect the geographic regions and the types of industries from which we recruit. These may include for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, local and national organizations, and higher education institutions as well as general industry firms. Results of the market analysis process are used to make an annual recommendation for the compensation program.

Rate of pay for each job based on the aggregate, representative market data from salary surveys.

The salary that represents the middle (or 50th percent) of a given salary range.

Employees who are subject to the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the FLSA.

A step within a compensation structure defining the pay parameters for a given type of job. In the University of Arizona Career Architecture, a pay grade is assigned to each job title in the architecture. Each job title is uniquely associated with an assigned job function, family, title series, and level.

The range of pay rates, from minimum to maximum, established for a pay grade or class. Typically used to set individual employee pay rates.

A summary of the most important features of a position, including the general nature of the work performed (essential duties and responsibilities) and level (e.g., scoping factors) of the work performed. It includes skills, experience, education and characteristics required for competent performance of the job. A position description describes and focuses on the job itself, not on any specific individual who might fill it.  Position descriptions are used to assign a specific position to a more broadly defined job.

The process that allows University of Arizona employees to provide direct feedback regarding their positions by communicating with their supervisors. Employees will work with their supervisors to review their current positions, including duties and minimum qualifications, and align the positions within the new architecture.

A detailed description of the main tasks and duties for which a position is accountable.

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 staff positions. 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.

A specific component in a salary structure that groups jobs for pay policy application. All jobs in a salary grade have the same salary range: minimum, midpoint and maximum.

The range of pay rates, from minimum to maximum, established for a salary grade or classification. Typically used to set individual employee pay rates, the range reflects lower and upper bounds of pay for jobs.

The array and hierarchy of salary grades and the associated pay ranges established for different jobs within an organization.

The gathering, summarizing and analysis of relevant market data on wages and salaries paid by other employers for selected key classes of jobs. Salary surveys are used to establish or price a salary structure, analyze pay-related problems, and/or adjust pay levels in response to competitive pay changes.

The complete pay package for employees, including all forms of salary, benefits, and services.

Descriptors used to distinguish one level of a job from the next. They include things like knowledge, complexity of work, communication, operational latitude/impact, risk, leadership,  required education, and experience.