What Is a Base Salary? (2024)

Base salary is a fixed amount of money paid to an employee by an employer in return for work performed. A base salary does not includethe benefits,bonuses,or other potentialcompensation an employee might receive in addition to the base salary.

Find out more about base salaries, including who receives one and what is and isn't included.

What Is a Base Salary?

A base salary is the initial, standard amount of money that you are offered by the employer to do a specific job.

Base salary does not include additional compensation such as:

An employee who is paid a base salary is expected to complete a whole job in return for the base salary. They are also generally expected to work at least 40 hours a week to accomplish the requirements and goals expected of the job.

  • Alternate name: Base pay

How Base Salary Works

Base salary is determined by a couple of factors, including market pay rates for people doing similar work in similar industries in the same region, the available people able to perform this work, and the pay rates andbase salary rangesestablished by an individual employer.

Base salary is also dependent on market pay outside of the company’s region as desirable skills become more difficult to recruit and employers raise base pay rates to compete for the talent they need.


Base salary is typically paid at regular intervals. Most common is biweekly, with an annual salary divided into 26 evenpaychecksover the course of the year.

Smart employers assign goals and measurable outcomes to jobs that pay a base salary. This enables both the employer and the employee to determine that the employee is, in fact, performing the whole job for which they receive the base pay.

Who Receives a Base Salary?

Base salaries are usually paid to professional or exempt employees—workers who meet the criteria for exemption from federal overtime laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Generally, these are professional, administrative, executive, or computer-related employees, and they must earn more than $684 per week and meet other tests as to their job duties to be exempt from the requirement that they be paid overtime.

Asalaried employeeis not required to track the number of hours worked and is not paid forovertime.

This is different from anon-exempt or hourly employee,who is paid an hourly rate or by the piece produced.This non-exempt employee is generally eligible to collect overtime for hours worked over 40.


Employers who fail to accurately pay employees, including their obligated overtime payments, are subject to fines and potential litigation.

For example, say you are a human resources manager for a mid-size company. You might receive a base salary of $110,000, not including your benefits, which could include vacation time and health insurance. Those valuable perks would increase your actual compensation beyond the base salary.

How Much Is a Competitive Base Salary?

Base salaries can vary greatly depending on the employer, the position, the geographic area of the company and/or the employee, the duties involved, and other factors. But you can find out more about general salary ranges from a number of sources.

A solid resource for base salary information is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS offers wage and salary data for specific positions in various industries as well as for people who work in specific geographic locations. You can also see data by job classification, job characteristics, industry, occupation, gender, state, and metropolitan area. You can see information not only about pay but about benefits as well.

The Society for Human Resource Management provides more base salary information to employers throughthe SHRM Compensation Data Center. Many companies participate in base salary market surveys to create a trustworthy resource for base salary research.

Other places to research about base salaries include base salary calculators and extensive resources available from sites like PayScale.

These sites allow an employer to input detailed factors relating to the job and region to see the range in base salaries that particular positions pay. It also allows your candidates to see the same information, removing an advantage that employers once had in the past, putting both parties on equal footing in a base salary negotiation.

Key Takeaways

  • A base salary is the fixed amount of money paid to an employee in exchange for work performed. It doesn't include bonuses, benefits, or other compensation an employee may also receive.
  • Base salaries are usually paid in even amounts at regular intervals, such as biweekly.
  • Competitive base salaries can be used to attract and retain top talent.
  • Information on base salaries can be obtained from a number of places, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and used in salary negotiations.
What Is a Base Salary? (2024)


How do you answer the base salary question? ›

So it's wise to make sure you're comfortable receiving the bottom number and to specify that this is your base salary range, not your total compensation. A simple example response could be, "I'm seeking a position with a base salary of $45,000 to $55,000."

What is a good answer for expected salary? ›

Say you're flexible.

You can try to skirt the question with a broad answer, such as, “My salary expectations are in line with my experience and qualifications.” Or, “If this is the right job for me, I'm sure we can come to an agreement on salary.” This will show that you're willing to negotiate.

What is your desired salary's best answer? ›

When answering desired salary or expected salary questions on an application, the best approach is to write in “negotiable” or keep the field blank. If a numerical response is required, enter “000” and in a notes section, mention that salary is negotiable based on further understanding of the position.

What is a base salary requirement? ›

A salary requirement is the amount of compensation a person needs in order to accept a position. Salary requirements are based on several factors such as:1. Salary history. Previous work experience.

How do you answer desired base salary on application? ›

But instead of providing a number, try writing “negotiable,” or “market rate.” If you're forced to put in a number, try giving a salary range. But, if the application won't accept a range, enter a dollar amount you're comfortable with based on everything you know.

How do you politely say the salary is too low? ›

Feel free to adjust it to your liking: “Thank you so much for the offer. I'm really excited about the company and the role. I want to be upfront with you that the salary is lower than I was expecting based on my skills and experience.

What should I put for desired salary per hour? ›

Originally Answered: How much should you put for desired hourly wage when applying for a job? Always put “negotiable,” because they're going to offer you what they're going to offer you anyway.

How to talk about salary in an interview? ›

If you do discuss compensation, I recommend speaking in terms of a range rather than a specific dollar amount. This will give you some flexibility as the interview process progresses. Consider putting the number you want at the lower end of the range, and then going up 5-10% from there.

How to answer expected salary in email? ›

Include your expected salary and 2-3 sentences and why you deserve it. The second paragraph should include your expected salary. Make sure to justify the number with a couple of sentences highlighting your education or experience. This will improve the chances of you getting the salary that you want.

How much base salary should I ask for? ›

Once you have been offered a job position, you can use this to your advantage to negotiate your starting salary. Consider asking for a salary that is five to ten thousand above the original offer and see what your prospective employer can offer you in terms of higher pay.

How much is $20 an hour annually? ›

$20 an hour is how much a year? If you make $20 an hour, your yearly salary would be $41,600.

Is base salary better than hourly? ›

But salaried employees enjoy more benefits for the most part, such as paid vacation and sick days, retirement accounts, and other employer-sponsored benefits. Hourly workers don't usually receive compensation in the form of paid leave by the companies who hire them and they may be responsible for their own healthcare.

How to deflect salary expectation question? ›

If you're asked for your salary expectations, you could deflect by saying “What do you usually pay someone in this position?” or “I'd like to learn more about the role before I set my salary expectations. I would hope that my salary would line up with market rates for similar positions in this area.”

How to negotiate salary during an interview? ›

When and How to Negotiate Salary With an Employer
  1. Before you negotiate salary in an interview.
  2. You need timing and tact.
  3. Hold your cards fairly close.
  4. Get your figures right.
  5. Discuss what's offered.
  6. Present a strong case.
  7. Never bluff.
  8. Get it in writing.
Oct 13, 2023

How to politely ask for salary range? ›

If you're looking for a very polite approach:

Hello, thank you so much for the opportunity to interview for your company, in advance of our scheduled interview I wanted to ask if you could provide the salary range for this role.

How do I answer why should I hire you? ›

A: When answering, focus on your relevant skills, experience, and achievements that make you the best fit for the role.You should hire me because I am a hard worker who wants to help your company succeed. I have the skills and experience needed for the job, and I am eager to learn and grow with your team .


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