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Vanderbilt Pay Guide

Range Placement

Although employees do not have established earning limits, jobs at Vanderbilt do have limits in terms of their minimum and maximum market value. Education, experience, performance, and proficiency drive where an individual employee should generally fall with a range. Generally, an employee who meets minimum requirements and is at or near minimum qualifications would be paid at or near range minimum. On the other hand, an employee with significant experience and expertise in a position who has a fully satisfactory performance record should be paid in the upper portion of the range. The midpoint (middle) of the range is designed for an employee who has developed to be fully proficient at the given job.


Since the performance management systems at Vanderbilt are designed to reward performance, stronger performers have the opportunity to move more quickly and higher within the range. Alternately, individuals that do not meet performance standards should progress at a slower rate.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Another factor in salary range placement is individual knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA’s). KSA’s often referred to as competencies, may distinguish employees’ ability to perform a job. When these KSA’s are in high demand in the market, they may demand a “premium”. Therefore, individuals with these “hot skills” may need to be placed higher in the range than other employees without such skills. This special consideration should not be considered if the skills represent minimum requirements for the classification; in this case, the range would take the market demands for the skill(s) into account.

Market Competitiveness

The supply and demand for labor and skills can fluctuate significantly. The Office of Compensation periodically reviews and analyzes external competitiveness to capture information about the degree of this fluctuation and to identify what classifications need their ranges to be moved consistent with the market movements. As managers make decisions about new salary offers, it is important to understand the market value or worth of a particular job. It is also critical to know how market movements can hinder the ability to retain qualified applicants. Managers are encouraged to use The Office of Compensation as a resource for market salary information.

New Hires

In determining salary offers, the following factors should be considered:

  • Relevant education and experience as compared to minimum qualifications
  • Specific knowledge, skills and experience as related to minimum qualifications
  • Established Pay Grade and Range
  • Internal equity relevant to others in the classification
  • Budget resources
  • Equal opportunity

These same considerations also apply when determining pay adjustments for promotions and transfers.  Determination of relevant experience and appropriate salary rates are generally made by the hiring supervisor consistent with the University’s Pay Guidelines.  Recruitment is available to consult with hiring supervisors in this process.  Consultation is encouraged when application of the Pay Guidelines may not result in the successful hire of the most qualified applicant.  The Office of Compensation is available to provide training on pay guidelines.

Internal Equity

When determining salary decisions, managers should look not only at individual’s salaries, but also at the salaries of the employee’s peers. There should be a correlation between pay and experience, education, performance and skills of employees. Inequities should be resolved when identified. The Office of Compensation is available to assist with and support reviews of internal relationships.

Budget & Legal Considerations

Managers are very familiar with the challenge of managing to a budget, and Compensation is no exception. Budget resources need to be considered with all Compensation decisions. Working with your budgetary officials, managers need to be able to weigh the available resources against the factors of range placement.  Other factors that cannot be avoided are legal implications. The primary legal consideration in terms of compensation is ensuring that “protected” classes are not discriminated against. Although these groups may not be intentionally discriminated against, the institution is legally liable if they are adversely impacted by salary decisions. Protected classes include sex, color, ethnicity, religion and age (for those over 40 years of age.) For specific information and guidance, you should contact your HR representative.

Balancing the Factors

All of the preceding factors should be considered when making salary decisions. However, not all of the elements should be given equal weight in all circumstances. The manager should understand that a given situation and environment may make one or more of these elements particularly important. The Pay Guidelines require managers to use judgment and assume accountability in salary decisions. HR is a resource to advise and provide information to assist in these decisions.

Communication with Staff

It is important to note that an individual’s perception of pay may have a profound influence on morale and work satisfaction. Sharing information on the classification and compensation system at Vanderbilt will provide staff with a better understanding and help address misconceptions that may exist. An annual development plan guides learning and continuous improvement in support of personal development. Review of the previous year’s Development Plan comprises an important part of the Annual Performance Evaluation. Development planning should include information on salary growth potential, career objectives, and future promotional opportunities.

Related HR Policies

Other links:

Compensation Philosophy and Principles

Compensation Program