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How Pay is Determined

Northwestern applies an objective approach to compensation that is flexible to changing market conditions and evolving talent needs. Factors considered when determining pay include external market data, internal equity, skills and expertise, performance, and departmental context (budget, location, etc.).

The Compensation team provides subject matter expertise for determining pay, including evaluating the following:

  1. Classifying jobs as exempt or non-exempt and following all provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, including minimum wage.
  2. Identifying and applying the most accurate and relevant external or market data for comparison.
  3. Comparing pay for similar work being performed across the University for internal equity. There can be variability due to budgets.
  4. Evaluating the appropriate pay range for the job.

Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees

Exempt roles are excluded or “exempt” from overtime and must be paid a salary rather than an hourly wage. Employees may be considered exempt if they meet a minimum salary threshold and if they also meet certain requirements with respect to primary duties. At Northwestern, exempt employees are paid their base salary monthly.

Non-exempt roles are entitled to overtime pay. The law requires that non-exempt employees be paid for overtime at a rate of 1½ times their regular rate of pay, for all hours worked more than 40 per week. At Northwestern, non-exempt employees are paid bi-weekly. 

Minimum Wage Rates

The University follows minimum wage rates for the Evanston and Chicago campuses (as of July 1, 2023):

Market Data

Market data is reliable and objective data on how similar jobs at other peer organizations are compensated and is a key factor in determining how Northwestern will set compensation rates. A job’s essential functions, scope of responsibility, level within the organization, and required experience and skills all determine how a market match job is identified. These factors are evaluated without respect to a job’s title. The evaluation may or may not consider the school or unit in which a job exists if the market data warrants.

Pay Ranges

Pay grades combine jobs together that are paid similarly in the market while taking essential functions, required knowledge, work complexity, accountability, any unique factors for the role, into consideration.  Pay ranges show the span between the minimum and maximum base salaries at Northwestern. We review pay ranges periodically, adjusting them as necessary to remain competitive. 

Determining the specific point in the pay range at which a staff member is to be paid depends on several factors. These include the value of the job in the labor market, the knowledge, skills, experience of the staff member, and the departmental context (budget, location, etc.). Pay rates should fall within the established pay ranges; at no time should a staff member’s pay rate be less than the minimum of the range. 

The University has three primary Pay Structures for Staff:

Find Your Own Pay Grade

Visit MyHR / Pay / My Appointment Detail.