Understand your pay scale better

What is a Pay Scale?

A pay scale is a system that determines how much an employee in a certain profession is paid as a wage or salary, based on one or more factors such as the employee's level within the employer's organization, the length of time that the employee has been employed, and the difficulty of the specific work performed.

A pay scale shows the range of salary an employee should expect at progressing stages in their career. Pay scales help employees to have an appropriate estimation of their future wage level. They also forecast the compensation evolution of a career path for employees to consider when mapping their careers.

What Factors Influence Pay Scales?

Different sets of factors influence the salary range that employees get in specific fields of work.

The first factor is industry. The demand for products or services of certain industries correlates directly to the demand for employees in their labor markets. Likewise, more prosperous industries lead to higher profit margins for businesses in that industry. These organizations can therefore afford to compensate their employees more. For instance, the median salary for waiters in the restaurant service industry is $18,502 per year, and the pay scale for waiters and waitresses is between 13,000 – 24,000 US dollars. This is very low compared to the median salary for professors working in the education industry, which is $93,588 per year with a pay scale ranging from 59,000 – 200,000 US dollars.

The second pay factor that influences pay scale is years of experience and responsibility. Within the same career path, employees with different levels of experience hold different positions in a company, and hence are on different pay scales. Take the Human Resource Department as an example. A human resources assistant is typically an entry-level position and little responsibility falls on their shoulders. On the other hand, a human resources manager may have been in the field for 10 years and be responsible for all facets of HR in an organization. Such a difference in experience and responsibility makes the pay scale for human resource managers almost triple the pay scale for human resource assistants.

A third integral factor that influences pay scale is education background. An employee's educational background can be divided into three aspects: level of degree, university, and major.

What degree you hold establishes the level of your academic achievement. A doctorate weighs more than a master's degree; a master's degree weighs more than a bachelor's degree; and a bachelor's degree weighs more than a high school degree. The hierarchy of degrees divides pay scales into different levels accordingly.

For employees with the same level of degree, the institution the degree is from can affect pay scale. For example, graduating from Harvard University implies certain levels of extraordinary excellence in intelligence and learning ability. Thus, those who graduated from Harvard University receive a higher-ranking pay scale than those graduated from other colleges.

An employee's major in college also influences their pay scale. If your major directly fits the job you are applying for, your skill set more than likely aligns with the role. In contrast, if you studied physics in college and apply for a designer job, you may get a relatively low pay scale, as your skill set and ability to perform the job requirements will be different from someone who studied design in college.

Another significant determinant of pay scale is certifications/competencies. Nowadays, employees need to do all they can to stand out from others in their field. Five-star Michelin chefs earn twice that of two-star Michelin chefs. Moreover, employers appreciate the ability of proven employees and would be willing to pay a higher salary to have leaders in their industry work for them rather than their peers.

Where I can find reliable pay scales?

Finding reliable sources of information is very important for you to make judgments about the salary wage ranges of a particular job.

With Salary.com, you can model your individual pay scale by inputting your educational background, your years of experience, your performance at this position, and so on. It's also very convenient for you to check your pay scale at any time as you progress through your career or think about making changes in your life.

Salary.com also helps employers manage employee compensation and individual employees understand their worth in the job market. The advantage of Salary.com is that you can scope your salary ranges to your working location, your industry, and your years of experience.

Now that you already have a comprehensive understanding of what pay scale is, go to Salary.com and find your pay scale!

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