Compensation and Classification

Campus Address
121-11 USB
Mailing Address

121 University Services Building, Suite 11
Iowa City, IA 52242-1911
United States

The University of Iowa utilizes a compensation philosophy that incorporates total rewards, by providing both direct salary and indirect benefits as forms of compensation. This combination of rewards is key to recruiting and retaining the diverse workforce needed to fulfill the mission and strategic goals of the University, as articulated in the University’s 2016-2021 strategic plan and those of individual colleges, divisions, and departments. 

In this context, the philosophy of the University’s Compensation System for non-organized Professional and Scientific staff is to:

  • Foster and reward excellent job performance 
  • Achieve and maintain competitive salaries in the relevant labor markets  
  • Recognize career development and provide opportunities for salary advancement, consistent with changing responsibilities and the University’s current and future staffing needs
  • Recognize equity and relevant experience as reflected in individual levels of responsibility and performance
  • Comply with federal and state regulations, including equal pay and comparable worth
  • Provide flexibility to meet a variety of organizational objectives with multiple funding sources 

Consistent with this philosophy, the University’s Compensation and Classification System:

  • Offers transparency to allow supervisors and employees to understand the University’s compensation structure and pay practices
  • Utilizes job specific classifications reflecting key areas of responsibility and skill
  • Recognizes relative levels of knowledge and skill, judgment, breadth and scope of role, impact and accountability, and communication expertise in assigning job classifications to pay levels; identifies salary “market ranges” calibrated to reflect relevant labor markets for comparable positions 
  • Allows for special compensation or variable pay to supplement base salary to recognize and reward employees for meeting the strategic goals and objectives of the University or a specific organizational unit
  • Emphasizes a balance of performance and relative market position in making individual salary decisions, within resources available
  • Supports the strategic use of limited resources

Within the University’s comprehensive compensation system, colleges and divisions are encouraged to communicate their specific policies, practices, and goals.

Market Definition

The primary considerations of the University’s compensation system are to reward performance, recognize development and job growth, and compensate individuals relative to their contribution to the University.  The University competes for talent in multiple markets in various geographical locations, among differing industry sectors, and with different types of employers. The definition of market for any individual position will depend upon the skills required for a position and the availability of talent, as necessary to recruit and retain the employees needed for the university to be successful.

Market Range and Median Zone

Pay levels 2A through 8B have a defined market range and median zone.  To provide clarity about each of these terms:

  • Market Range – Defines the minimum and maximum rates that will normally be paid to staff in that pay level.  The market range is developed from the median zone using an industry formula to account for the various classifications within a pay level.
  • Median Zone – Defines the range in which many professional staff will be compensated.  There are many staff who will be compensated above and below the median zone due to their credentials, the market value of the classification, available funding, and other factors.  The University of Iowa recommends that additional consideration and resources be given to individuals below the median zone who are good performers and fully proficient in the full range of their responsibilities.  Despite this consideration, there is no requirement that staff should be in the median zone.
  • Development of the Market Range and Median Zone – University Human Resources participates in multiple salaries and utilizes benchmark classifications to develop and update the pay ranges.  Each pay level will utilize multiple benchmark classifications that have different market values in the development of the market range and median zone.  Classifications in the same pay level are similar in market value but there is variability within each level.

For additional information about market ranges and/or median zones, please contact