Too Hot To Handle? What to do about salary range busters.

The business case for pay grades over individual ranges is clear. Switching to pay grades reduces administrative burden, facilitates internal alignment and makes it easier to set salaries for jobs that lack market benchmarks. PayScale's new eBook “Bring Back the Sizzle: PayScale’s Guide to Comp Plans That Get Workers Fired Up (in a good way),” clearly lays out the process for creating ranges. Be sure to read it!

The hottest jobs, though, fall over the top of your pay ranges for similar jobs. Because of their higher-than-average demand, they command higher prices than similar jobs. Rather than lose valuable candidates and employees to your competitors, you need to accommodate those range outliers in one of two ways.

Create an individual pay range: Though pay grades are usually preferred, if you have multiple hot jobs, you may need to assign individual pay ranges to those positions.

Pay a market premium: In cases where only one or two positions are hot jobs, think about paying a market premium. If you do pay a premium, make sure that employees understand they are getting a premium. Should the demand shift and your company decide to remove the premium, the affected employees will understand the rationale.

The Hottest of the Hot: The chart below reveals the top ten hottest jobs, based on projected future growth and median pay. Does your company employ any of these job roles? Read also about the hottest new jobs in this blog article.

Job Title Relative Experienced Median Pay 2010-2020 Projected Growth
1. Biomedical Engineer $79,500 61.70%
2. Nurse Home Care $61,000 70.50%
3. Marketing Consultant $92,100 41.20%
4. Actuary $136,000 26.70%
5. Clinical Research Associate (CRA) $90,700 36.40%
6. Software Architect $119,000 24.60%
7. Financial Advisor $90,200 32.10%
8. Certified Financial Planner (CFP) $89,500 32.10%
9. Security Consultant, (IT) $102,000 27.80%
10. Petroleum Engineer $162,000 17.00%

PayScale Data and Methodology behind this:

2010-2020 Projected Growth: This is the forecasted growth from The Bureau of Labor Statistics for the job’s overall job family for the period from 2010-2020.

Relative Experienced Median Pay: The median of Total Cash Compensation for the specific job title based upon how many years experience most people in the sample for the occupation tend to have.

Total Cash Compensation (TCC): TCC combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or value of other non-cash benefits (e.g., healthcare). 


When creating a score for each of the factors involved we take the factor in hand and divide it by the average of all jobs. The final score is then determined by multiplying all the scores together and listing them from largest to smallest.


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  6. 1 Pat Sorgenti 29 Apr
    We have a problem that developed out of this one. We hired a director of marketing (a new position) and the going rate to get someone good was higher than we wanted but we paid it. We also needed a brand manager and a digital social media person (also a new position) who report to the director. The going rate for these positions was also quite high and there is very little difference between all 3 salaries which seems unfair to the director. I am trying to find criteria to recommend a buffer between the director and her direct reports that is a greater %age of bonus. Right now all senior managers/directors receive 10% of base salary which as you can imagine doesn't give the director significantly more than the managers who report to her. I am trying to find benchmarking or even a process that includes a differenct %age (say, 15%) for directors, but can't find any backup data to support it. Can you help?


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