What is a Salary?


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A salary is a form of compensation paid periodically by employers to employees in exchange for their services or work. Salaries are typically agreed upon in advance and are paid at regular intervals, such as weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. The amount is usually fixed and doesn’t vary based on the number of hours worked, unlike hourly wages.

Key characteristics and details about salary include:

  • Fixed Amount: A salaried employee receives a predetermined amount of money, which is usually stipulated in an employment contract or offer letter. This amount is often communicated as an annual figure, e.g., “$50,000 per year.”
  • Payment Intervals: While the total salary amount might be discussed annually, payment is often broken down into smaller, regular intervals like monthly or bi-weekly. For instance, an annual salary of $48,000 might be paid out as $4,000 monthly or $2,000 bi-weekly.
  • Exempt vs. Non-Exempt: In many regions, salaried employees are classified into “exempt” or “non-exempt” categories. In the U.S., for instance, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), “exempt” salaried employees don’t receive overtime pay, whereas “non-exempt” salaried employees may still be eligible for overtime.
  • Benefits and Perks: Often, salaried positions come with additional benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid vacations, bonuses, and other perks.
  • Not Based on Hours: Unlike hourly employees, salaried employees generally earn their full salary regardless of the exact number of hours they work each week. However, they are expected to fulfill their job responsibilities, which may sometimes require working beyond the standard workweek hours.
  • Deductions: From the gross salary, there could be deductions like taxes, social security contributions, health insurance premiums, and retirement contributions, leading to the net salary or take-home pay.
  • Advancements and Raises: Over time, based on factors like performance, experience, and company profitability, salaried employees might receive raises, increasing their annual salary.

A salary contrasts with hourly wages, where employees are paid based on the number of hours they work. It also differs from commission-based pay, where compensation is tied to the volume or value of transactions or deals secured by the employee.

Example of a Salary

Let’s explore a hypothetical scenario involving a marketing manager named Laura.


Laura has been offered a position as a Marketing Manager at “Tech Innovators Inc.,” a growing tech company. Here are the details of her employment:

  • Annual Salary: $80,000
  • Payment Frequency: Monthly
  • Benefits: Health and dental insurance, retirement plan with company matching up to 5%, and 20 days of paid vacation annually.
  • Other Compensation: Year-end bonus based on the company’s profitability and her department’s performance.


To determine Laura’s monthly gross salary, we would divide her annual salary by 12 (since she’s paid monthly):

$80,000 ÷ 12 = $6,666.67

Thus, Laura’s gross salary before any deductions is $6,666.67 each month.

However, Laura will have deductions such as federal and state taxes, social security, her contribution to the health insurance, and her retirement contribution. Let’s say all these deductions total $1,666.67 monthly.

Therefore, her net monthly salary (take-home pay) would be:

$6,666.67 – $1,666.67 = $5,000


In her role, Laura is responsible for strategizing and overseeing the company’s marketing campaigns. In one particular month, she had to work extra hours, including a weekend, to launch a significant product campaign. Despite the additional hours, her monthly salary remains $6,666.67, as salaried positions like hers typically do not account for overtime in the same way hourly roles do.

At the end of the year, Tech Innovators Inc. had a highly profitable year, and the marketing department, under Laura’s leadership, played a pivotal role in this success. As a result, she received a year-end bonus of $10,000.

This example illustrates the fixed nature of a salaried position, regardless of hours worked. It also touches on additional benefits and compensations that might come with such roles. Laura’s total compensation for the year includes her base salary, benefits, and any bonuses or additional perks she receives.

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