Staff Compensation Program

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In 2019, the University of Arizona undertook the University Career Architecture Project. UCAP created a new staff compensation structure and career architecture that defines a hierarchy and framework of jobs within the institution. It is designed to maintain competitive and equitable compensation across staff positions at the University.

Compensation Administration Guidelines

The Compensation Administration Guidelines comprehensively describe the Staff Compensation Program and how to apply it.

Compensation Administration Guidelines (PDF)
Last updated: May 5, 2023.

Consult these guidelines when determining:

  • New hire compensation
  • Pay changes for promotions, demotions, transfers and retention offers*
  • When incumbent review or exception request is required
  • Compensation adjustments for assignments*
  • Additional compensation*

*Use the Salary Increase Worksheet with relevant transactions.

Key Definitions

Bring-to-Minimum: A mandatory raise that an employee receives when adjustments in a pay range cause the minimum of the range to rise above their salary. “Bring-to-minimum” raises the salary up to the bottom of the range.

Incumbent Review: A review by the compensation team required when an existing employee’s job duties and responsibilities change significantly (typically defined as 30% or more), or in a way that affects how the job is mapped (Learn more).

Red-Circled: When an employee’s pay rate exceeds the maximum of the pay range the employee is red-circled to receive one-time merit bonuses in place of increases to base salary.

See full glossary in Appendix B of the
Compensation Administration Guidelines (PDF).

Main Elements

Career Levels & Career Streams

Staff positions are categorized into three career streams based generally on degree of responsibility. Each stream contains a series of levels that defines career progression toward more job complexity, knowledge and responsibility. 

Job Functions and Families

All staff positions are grouped into 26 broad job functions (e.g., Academic Administration). The job functions are subdivided into families (e.g., Academic Program Management).

University Staff Pay Structure

The pay structure consists of pay grades, which define a minimum midpoint and maximum pay.

Incumbent Review

An incumbent review is needed when an existing employee’s job duties and responsibilities change significantly. This is typically defined as a change in 30% or more of job duties or responsibilities, or one that affects how the job is mapped to the career architecture.

Attention: Promotion, transfers, mapping corrections, and other job changes may require incumbent review. Do not make an offer to an employee without completing the following process.


  1. Contact your college/division leadership and then your Senior HR Partner for guidance and alignment.
  2. Fill out a Position Description Form and Incumbent Review Request Form to reflect changes in job duties and responsibilities. (For help, reference the How to Write a Position Description guide)
  3. Submit an MSS Exception Request in UAccess. Attach the updated position description, updated résumé and any other supporting documentation.
  4. A results letter will be emailed to the person who submitted the incumbent review request.
  5. Create an MSS Job Change in UAccess with an action code of “position life cycle.” Attach the results letter.


Who submits?
College/division representative (HR representative or Business Manager) or the direct supervisor of the affected employee.

Where do I submit?
In UAccess > Employee/Manager Self Service > Request MSS Transactions tile > MSS Exceptions > MSS Exception Request > Create New MSS Exception Request and select “Incumbent Review.”

How long does it take?
Allow 30 days (reviews are often completed sooner).

Frequently Asked Questions

Before making a salary offer, review the "Managing within Pay Ranges" chart in the Compensation Administration Guidelines (PDF). Each pay decision should include review of internal equity, and the individual's level of education, experience, knowledge and skills.

Although a department may offer a new employee compensation up to the midpoint of the pay range without approval from the HR compensation team, please note that a large majority of new hires will fall into the first quartile of the chart.

The HR compensation team recommends the following to manage wage compression and make informed pay decisions:

  • Conduct an analysis of current wage compression in your unit with the assistance of your Senior Human Resources Partner.
  • Consider and account for the costs involved in hiring and training replacements for current employees if they were to resign, as well as the loss of expertise and institutional knowledge.
  • Document to your unit head the status of wage compression in your unit, the consequences of resignations among experienced employees and your requested budget for merit increases

University senior leaders have implemented an annual salary increase program as finances permit. Although parameters may change from year to year, the program typically has two components:

  1. An across-the-board increase.
  2. Additional merit increases for particularly high-performing employees.

Visit the Salary Increase Program page for current/recent guidance.

For more information about merit increases, please review the “Merit Raises” section in the Compensation Administration Guidelines (PDF).

See “Temporary Changes to Job Duties” in the Compensation Administration Guidelines (PDF). Your Senior Human Resources Partner may also be a useful resource for guidance, both with the short-staffing issues and with compensation recommendations.

Do you need more assistance? 

Connect with your Senior HR Partner

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