« Compensation Times

Compensate for Job Duties, not Credentials


Compensating people for their worth has always been incredibly important. But rarely do you hear about the other side to this, overcompensating based off of their credentials. Usually when we discuss paying your employees what they’re worth, we are referring to a pay raise. Paying them to meet the demands of the market and also analyzing their value to your specific organization usually leads an organization to discover that their employees are being underpaid. 

However, underpaying people is not always the problem. There is a challenge that many health centers and similar organizations face. When a candidate has certain credentials, they expect compensation based on those credentials. To them, that’s fair. But the truth is, it’s not fair to pay people for their credentials when the job function doesn’t require those credentials. 

Conversely, if someone does NOT have higher credentials but they are excelling at a job, they should not be paid less simply because they don’t have that extra degree or certification.

Read on to understand our reasoning behind this advice…


Job Requirements vs. Qualifications

When a job is posted it typically has specific requirements and descriptions that are required in the role. When a candidate is hired for a role, they are usually compensated in a range based on the level of the role and the experience that they bring. This is true across most organizations, and it is here where our question comes to light: should someone be compensated for a certification or degree if it isn’t listed as a requirement?

For example, if a registered nurse applies to be a floor nurse, and the role does not require them to be a RN why should they be compensated as an RN when they won’t be working as one in this specific role? 


How to approach this scenario

As an employer it is essential that you set clear expectations when hiring for a role. How can you do this?

  • Create a clear description of the role.
  • Qualify your candidates throughout the interview process:
    • Make it clear what your salary range is and why. This will help to not waste the candidates, or your time if there is a misfire in compensation requirements. 
  • Don’t get pressured into compensation for credentials that don’t apply to the specific role. 

As the candidate applying for a role, understand what your potential employer is asking for. If they aren’t specifically asking for someone with your qualifications, the company may not need those qualifications for the role, (and this could affect your earnings). If you still want to move forward and apply, think about the following:

  • You should be compensated to meet market demands and based on your value to the specific organization.
    • This doesn’t mean market demand for, for example, a registered nurse, but rather for the position they’re hiring for. 
    • Be transparent about your compensation needs in the early stages of the interview process.

Both parties need to be transparent and set clear expectations.

Understanding how to compensate your employees can be complicated. But you don’t want to fall into the pattern of paying people for something that isn’t being used in your organization. The way you structure your workforce depends on how clear you are about the needs in your organization. The next time you encounter this, think about how this role fits into your organization. 


We can help. If you’re not sure where to start, how to organize your workforce, or even sure if you can pay people more, we can be your strategic partner.