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Career Banding

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Career Banding is a comprehensive classification, compensation, and career-development system developed  by the Office of State Personnel (OSP) for positions and employees that are subject to the personnel act (SPA).  This program is administered for NC State University by the Classification and Compensation Department in Human Resources. Career Banding links compensation, competency assessment, performance management, recruitment, and training and development. The integration of these areas serve to enhance recruitment and retention efforts as well as improve career advancement opportunities.  Through Career Banding, it is the goal of NC State University to compensate its employees at a level that promotes successful work behavior  and emphasizes  demonstrating the competencies linked to job duties and organizational goals. Career Banding is a market-based program designed to support the salary competitiveness necessary to recruit, retain and develop a competent and diverse work force.


Career Banding Implementation
Human Resources Office Responsibilities
Management Responsibilities
Employee Responsibilities
Dispute Resolution Process
Employee Advisory Committee
Career Banding Compensation/Salary Administration


Background Information

As of June 30, 2008, all NC State employees subject to the personnel act (SPA) were  assigned  to a “banded” classification that corresponds to and is  covered by the Career Banding System. The current Career Banding System  replaces the classification and compensation salary graded system with a market-based and competency-based program. Based on guidelines provided by OSP, this information documents the plan that is administered at NC State University with delegated authority.

Career Banding Overview

The Career Banding System utilizes salary ranges that merge related or similar  occupational  titles into a single banded title.  The Career Banding System provides NC State with a more flexible compensation approach to address recruitment, compensation, and retention issues. Additionally, due to the broader salary ranges, Career Banding emphasizes lateral movement within bands. There are three levels (Contributing, Journey, and Advanced) within each band. Career progression through the band is assessed  in terms of developing competencies that are defined and demonstrated as increased knowledge, skills, and abilities that employees need to successfully perform their jobs. As competencies are developed through education, training, and practical experience, employees’ salaries can be considered for additional compensation. Supervisors and managers should consistently apply the Career Banding Salary Administration policy in order to compensate employees appropriately based on the development of higher level or new competencies as represented in the labor market for comparable work. However, salary increases are subject to the availability of departmental funds and the amount of funding that a manager has available when making pay decisions. 

The Career Banding System is designed to:

  • Ensure congruence between the department's business needs, the supervisor’s performance expectations, and the employee’s  understanding of the position.
  • Define and communicate the responsibilities, competencies, training, education, and experience needed for career development and/or progression.  
  • Utilize standardized competencies to assess progression.
  • Facilitate the recruitment of highly competent employees and improve retention.

Human Resources Responsibilities

The Director of Classification and Compensation  serves as the Career Banding Administrator for NC State University and  oversees the administration of the Career Banding system to ensure  that effective communication, training, evaluation, accountability, and equal opportunity are strong components.

The Classification and Compensation staff is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the career banding program. They also provide training for managers, supervisors, and employees regarding the career banding program. Salaries are determined and awarded in compliance with the Office of State Personnel Career Banding Salary Administration Policy.

Human Resources will monitor the career banding program and report results of program self-assessments and  the review of occupational trends to OSP as needed.  This assessment involves monitoring the following:

  • Accessibility of updated and well-written career banding information for employees, supervisors and managers
  • Application of pay factors in compliance with the plan
  • Career development and advancement opportunities for employees
  • Career banding practices that may result in unequal treatment
  • Provision of career banding and performance management training
  • Dispute resolution activity resulting from career banding salary decisions

Management Responsibilities

  • Management is to ensure that the Career Banding concept is communicated to all employees.
  • Supervisors are to establish work plans which can be used to guide and track the employee’s progress in achieving performance expectations. Supervisors are responsible for evaluating employees’ competencies during  annual performance reviews and providing employee coaching with a goal of enhancing each employee's contribution to the organization's success.
  • Managers and supervisors are to apply the pay factors correctly and equitably using the compensation guidelines outlined in this plan. Evaluation of competencies and pay factors will occur at the time of a personnel action as defined in policy (e.g., Within Level Adjustment, Competency Level Adjustment, Labor Market Adjustment).

Employee Responsibilities

  • Employees, in conjunction with supervisors, are to review their work plans to ensure an understanding of the required competencies, work functions, and their relation to the mission and goals of the work unit.
  • Employees may request clarification from their supervisors about the career banding program as needed.

Dispute Resolution Process 

By following the established Human Resources procedure for disputing performance pay issues, employees have the right to formally dispute certain career banding decisions.  Decisions that are eligible for review under this plan must be based on one of the following:

  • Amount of salary adjustment is perceived by the employee to have discriminatory impact.
  • An awarded salary adjustment is not in compliance with the pay factors or the OSP Salary Administration Policy.

Any dispute regarding career banding will be tracked and reviewed by the Human Resources Employee Relations Department working collaboratively with the  Classification and Compensation  Department.  However, salary decisions based on unavailability of funding are not eligible for consideration in the dispute resolution process. 

Employee Advisory Committee

Throughout the process of transitioning to the Career-Banding System, employee representation was solicited and incorporated  in the form of Advisory Committees for each project, focus groups, employee surveys, and informational Q&A sessions. Occupation-specific employee groups were utilized to provide guidance, input, and review of each new career banding program. 

Post-implementation of the Career Banding System, NC State continues to evaluate and refine the efficacy of the career banding program through an  employee Advisory Committee, comprised of employees and supervisors who represent a cross section of demographics, organizations, and occupations.  This committee is designed to provide input regarding the effectiveness, efficiency, and administration of the Career Banding System at NC State. The committee is to provide continued feedback and suggestions regarding the career-banding program.

Career Banding Compensation/Salary Administration

Career Banding Pay Philosophy

It is the policy of the NC State to maintain the labor market competitiveness necessary to recruit and retain a competent workforce as well as compensate employees at a level sufficient to encourage excellence of performance.

Banded Ranges

Banded salary ranges are established and revised by the Office of State Personnel.  Labor market data is used to develop the statewide Range Minimums, Range Maximums, and the Reference Rates that correspond to the three competency levels (Contributing, Journey, Advanced).  Where necessary, the University requests special Market Reference Rates that more specifically address the University’s labor market needs for certain occupational groups. 

Salary Determination

Salaries are determined and awarded in compliance with the Office of State Personnel Career Banding Salary Administration Policy. The salary for employees demonstrating required competencies  in their assigned level may  be at, below, or above the applicable market reference rate guidelines for the assigned level (Contributing, Journey, or Advanced) but not below the minimum or above the maximum of the banded class salary range.

Human Resources is available to advise managers and supervisors regarding compensation decisions; however, all relative pay factors must be applied with regard to internal pay alignment.  

Effective Date

All actions shall be on a current basis.

Pay Factors

The four pay factors are financial resources (budget availability), required competencies, market, and internal pay alignment, as described below. The pay factors are evaluated to make salary determinations associated with personnel actions (new hire, promotion, reallocation, career progression salary adjustments, retention salary adjustments, temporary salary adjustments, horizontal transfer, reassignment, demotion, or grade-band transfer). 

Financial Resources: The amount of funding that a manager has available when making pay decisions. Salary increases are subject to the availability of departmental funds.  Financial resources are allocated for salaries according to the organizational business need.

Required Competencies: The functional competencies and associated levels that are required based on organizational business need and subsequently demonstrated in the position  by the employee.   Salary increases are based on required competencies.  This pay factor accounts for knowledge, skills, abilities, duties and responsibilities as documented in job descriptions or competency assessments. This factor also takes into account any relevant training, certification, and/or license.

Market: The market rate applicable to the functional competencies demonstrated by the employee. The current market dynamics for the occupation, geographic area, and/or industry are considered as a pay factor. Market reference rates are assessed and determined by the Office of State Personnel.

Internal Pay Alignment: The consistent alignment of salaries among employees who demonstrate similar required competencies in the same banded class.  This pay factor is a comprehensive assessment of employees’ salaries relative to each other based on career band, competency level,  criticality of the job to the mission of the unit, and/or other organizational factors.

New Hires

A new hire is defined as initial employment of an individual to a position.  The pay factors, as stated in the plan, will be considered in determining the new employee's salary. 

Probationary Status

Employees are not eligible for any career banding adjustments until after permanent status is awarded.  Employees may be considered for career progression salary adjustments at the successful completion of probation (6-month period) based on increased competency levels or any of the other pay factors. 

Career Progression Adjustments

Career progression adjustments represent a salary adjustment within the salary range for the employee’s current career band.  A career progression adjustment may be granted in conjunction with demonstrated competencies or as justified through labor market conditions.

Employees with active warnings or disciplinary actions or with overall below good or unsatisfactory performance ratings are not eligible for career progression adjustments based on competencies.

Salary adjustments may be awarded (but are not mandatory) to recognize progression through the competency structure or to compensate  an employee for assuming additional duties and responsibilities  Therefore, salary adjustments will be justified based on demonstrated competencies, knowledge, skills, abilities, magnitude of job change, internal equity, market conditions, and any other relevant factors.

Managers and supervisors will provide documentation for salary recommendations  (using the Career Banding Salary Adjustment Request form), describing the relevance of pay factors to the decision.  Justification should include information regarding the development of higher level competencies, the application of  additional knowledge and skills, and/or job changes.

When an increase in competencies occurs, an employee demonstrates new or higher level functioning in one or more competencies within the same band.  The increase in competencies must support a departmental need.  Broadened duties/responsibilities often accompany an increase in competencies. An increase in competencies may or may not result in a Competency Level Adjustment. Career progression adjustments fall in one of the following categories: 

  • Within Level Adjustment:  Employee has a salary  adjustment without an overall competency level change.  May result from a significant change in only one competency, or less extensive increases in multiple competencies. 
  • Competency Level Adjustment:  Employee moves from a lower overall competency level to a higher overall competency level (e.g. Contributing to Journey level) within the same banded classification.

Market Adjustments

An adjustment or increase to a salary that is beneath the  market reference rate established for  the career banded classification assigned to the employee’s position.

Retention Adjustments

Retention adjustments (not to exceed the range maximum) may be awarded to prevent turnover in critical positions.  Retention adjustments may be needed to retain a key employee who is being actively recruited by another employer outside of the University, to counter an outside employment offer, or to address retention problems related to unique, critical, and unusual labor market conditions. 

Temporary Salary Adjustments

Temporary Salary Adjustments may be awarded to career banded employees to compensate for additional duties within the same band that are assigned on a temporary basis to meet a specific organizational need.  Requests for temporary salary adjustments are typically  related to staffing/vacancies or one-time/special projects.  The temporary salary should not exceed the maximum of the range and usually does not exceed a one-year duration.

Legislative Increases

Career-banded employees are eligible for approved legislative increases (LI).  If a career banding adjustment is approved with the same effective date as a legislative increase (e.g., July 1), the LI will be applied before the career banding adjustment.  Banded ranges may increase annually based on legislative increase or based on market data approved by the Office of State Personnel. 


A promotion within the career banded system is defined as employee movement from one position to another in the same banded classification, with a higher competency level or employee movement from one position to another in a different banded classification with a higher journey market rate.

Promotions will be awarded through a competitive process to include posting of the vacancy, interview, and formal assessment procedures.

Promotional salaries will be determined based on the pay factors and may not exceed the maximum of the range.  If employees are promoted from a lower band to a higher band, they must be paid at least at the minimum of the pay range.  If funds are not available, an increase may be considered at a later date based on a future evaluation of the pay factors.  However, any future adjustments must be made on a current, not retroactive, basis. 

Horizontal Transfer

A horizontal transfer within the career banded system is defined as employee movement from one position to another within the same banded classification with the same competency level or movement from one position to another with a different classification with the same journey market rate.  If a change is requested by the supervisory, salary is based on application of the pay factors and may not exceed the maximum of the range.


A reassignment within the career banded system is defined as follows:

  • A position change or employee movement from one position to another with the same banded classification but with a lower competency level.
  • A position change or employee movement from one position to another in a different banded classification with a lower journey market rate.

When an employee and/or position is reassigned, the employee’s salary is based on application of the pay factors and may not exceed the maximum of the newly assigned range.  The salary may be reduced to any amount within the pay range of the newly assigned band or the salary may remain the same so long as it does not exceed the maximum of the lower pay range. If reassignment is by employee choice, the option to maintain salary above appropriate rate based on pay factors is not applicable.


A demotion within the career banded system is defined as a disciplinary action that results in employee movement from one banded position to another within the same banded classification but with a lower competency level; or employee movement from one banded classification to a different banded classification that has a lower journey market rate; or a reduction in salary within same banded class.  Salary may be reduced, but not below the minimum of the band.  If demotion results in movement to a lower banded range, salary must not exceed the maximum of the new range. Demotions are implemented in collaboration with the Employee Relations Department.

Reclassification (Reallocation)

A reclassification, within the career banded system, is defined as the reassignment of a position/employee from one banded classification title to another banded classification title.  Reclassifications are documented via the Career Banding Job Description form and submitted to the Classification and Compensation Department for review and approval.  Salary is determined through application of pay factors.

Grade-Band Transfer (Pay Plan Change)

A grade-band transfer occurs when an employee transfers from a classification with a salary grade to a banded classification, or vice-versa.  Salaries that are below minimum of the banded range must be adjusted to minimum.  Otherwise, the appropriate salary level for the individual will be based on an evaluation of the pay factors, and a salary adjustment may as applicable.  Since all SPA positions in the UNC academic system are assigned to career bands, grade-band transfers would only occur if an employee transferred to the University from a state agency using the salary graded system.

Labor Market Data

Labor market data for positions statewide is established by OSP using occupation-specific salary surveys. This data is used to establish the contributing reference rate, journey market reference rate (i.e., The average rate of pay for the journey level benchmark job for each band); and the advanced reference rate. Geographic-specific labor market data is also used, as appropriate, for NC State.


Office of State Human Resources Career Banding Salary Administration Policy 

Career Banding Definitions

Banded Salary Ranges