What Is a Salary Range and How Does It Work?
What Is a Salary Range and How Does It Work?

What Is a Salary Range and How Does It Work?

Definition of Salary Range

As the name suggests, a salary range is the range of pay offered for performing a job. It will usually involve a minimum pay rate as well as a maximum option.

There will often be several possible salary levels between the two figures, which act as opportunities for pay increases.

This figure acts as the minimum and maximum amount that an employee wants to earn.

Alternatively, it can be seen as the minimum or maximum a company is willing to pay when they hire a new employee.

Both employees and employers use pay rates and salary ranges.

It is used to indicate a level of experience and qualification which might be considered essential for a role, while also leaving options open for individuals to apply who might usually be above or below the average salary.

When Are Salary Ranges Used?

There are several situations when a company might choose to use a paid salary within its advertisement.

There are also several different reasons why an individual might consider putting a salary range on their CV or job application.

Vacancy Advertisement

Employers will often use a salary range on a job listing to indicate the maximum amount that they expect to pay someone for a specific role.

This will be in line with the rates offered by competitors. By creating a listing that has a range rather than just one salary, it also allows for differences in candidates, such as qualifications and experience.

This can, in turn, attract more experienced and highly-qualified individuals to apply for roles.

Job Application

If you are filling in a job application, then it can sometimes be appropriate to include a salary range.

This informs whoever looks at your application the kind of salary you are looking for, which can help to narrow down whether or not you're a suitable candidate.

Some job vacancies don't list any kind of salary information; therefore, by listing your expected salary range, you will be telling an employer what your experience is worth.

What Factors Determine a Salary Range?

There are many factors that work to determine what an appropriate salary range will be.

For many roles, this will vary depending on the type of role available, the size of the company that is hiring and competition within the industry.

Some of the common factors which feature in determining a salary range are:


The amount of time that an individual has spent working in a similar role can significantly impact the amount that they are likely to receive in a salary offer.

Generally speaking, the more experience and expertise that you have, the more an employer will be willing to pay.

This is why individuals who have years of experience in an industry will be paid more than those who are entering the field for the first time.


Some industries will require more qualifications than others. This is the same for specific roles, with some specialisms requiring more certifications than others.

As a general rule, if the role you are applying for requires in-depth study and qualifications, this will mean a larger salary.


The reputation of a company and an individual can each influence the amount that someone is able to achieve regarding their salary.

Companies are generally willing to offer more to employees who bring positive attributes with them to their roles. This can be something such as a reputation for achieving throughout their career.

Alternatively, it could also be an extensive network of contacts, a proven track record or published works that add to the reputation of a company.

When a company has a good reputation, it also means that individuals are more likely to want to work for them. This can mean that they are willing to reassess their salary expectations and accept a rate that is at the lower end of their range.

People do this because they know that working for a company with a good reputation can help to boost their career, even if that means accepting a slightly lower salary than they would usually expect.

Job Title

Certain job titles can mean more than others. They can also make a difference in the amount someone expects to earn.

Budgetary Constraints

Different companies will have different budgets.

They don't all prioritize spending in the same ways, and even two companies who are working in the same industry will have different levels of spending available to them. This is why a company will consider its budget before suggesting a range of salary options.

It could be that they have a maximum amount in mind for an individual who meets all of their requirements and adds the maximum possible returns for their company.

Alternatively, a lower rate could reflect the fact that they will need to spend money training a new employee or helping them to gain relevant qualifications.

Cost of Living

It is possible that the salary individuals should expect can be influenced by where they live and the cost of living there.

For example, people in cities will often require more money than those in rural areas. This is because it is more expensive to live in the city than it is to live in the countryside.

Salary ranges will often reflect this, with rates set to reflect the amount people would expect to spend on rent, utilities and other essential spending.

The cost of living considerations is particularly important for individuals who are looking to set their own salary ranges.

For example, if an individual could potentially be required to relocate as part of a new job role, then this will be something that will often be factored into salary negotiations.

What is a Salary Range and How Does it Work?
What is a Salary Range and How Does it Work?

How to Negotiate Within a Salary Range

Whether you are the person looking for a job or the one doing the hiring, it is important to know how to properly negotiate a salary range.

Knowing how to do this properly will often mean that you are able to be more successful.

Do a Skills Review

Before considering how much you think you should be paid, it's probably a good idea to honestly reflect and consider your level of experience and skill.

By spending some time reviewing your skills, you will be able to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

This will help you to gain a realistic perspective of what your specialist areas of expertise are worth. This will mean that you are better able to focus on your strengths and the reasons why a company should pay you the amount you are asking for.

Gaining an idea of the weaker points will also help you to know any areas which a company might try to use to push back with. This will enable you to prepare for their comments and think of answers to them.

Research Competitive Rates

You might have some idea of what you would like to earn or pay for a role, but it is always a good idea to check how that compares with others.

It could be that the figure you have in mind is a lot more or less than others are receiving. When this happens, you will need to readjust your thought process and offer a more competitive rate.

What Is the Benefits Package Worth?

Some companies will offer a benefits package to employees. This can include healthcare and other services.

Before agreeing to a lower salary, it is a good idea to consider how much these benefits packages would be worth if you had to pay for them yourself.

This figure should be added to your annual salary so that you can get a clearer idea of what your salary really is.

Discuss Staged Progression

If a company is unable to offer you the initial salary that you had hoped for, then it can be a good idea to suggest staged progression towards your target.

This can mean that your salary is able to increase in designated increments based on your performance within the company. For example, some people will start at a lower rate before it increases after an initial trial period.

Be Prepared to Ask

There's an old saying: 'If you never ask, you'll never know', and it's very true. If you don't ask the question, then you don't know the answer.

You should always be prepared to ask for the salary that you want. Of course, a company can refuse your request, but it also offers the opportunity to open a conversation about it. This conversation can help you to find a middle ground which you are both happy with.

Frequently Asked Questions

The answer that you will give will depend on whether you are the recruiter or applicant in the situation.


When asked what the salary range is, it's best to state the figures and clearly specify the type of individual you are looking for. This will help applicants to understand whether or not they are likely to fill the criteria for the highest rate of pay.


The most important thing is to be honest. Don't feel as though you have to give a figure which is lower than you would really like to live on.

It won't necessarily make you seem more appealing to the employer. It is better to be honest about how much you are worth and what you can bring to a company.

Agreeing to a lower rate will just leave you struggling financially and feeling as though your worth isn't really seen.

A salary range is a minimum and maximum amount that you would expect to earn or pay someone for a role. It would usually be written as two figures with a dash between them.

For example, $25,000 to $30,000.

It's quite easy to research the average salaries for any profession.

Simply typing it into a search engine can bring up a host of options, with information regarding the typical pay for every level of a career.

You will be able to narrow your search to look at the job role in general or specific salary ranges for individuals who perform that role in your area, as well as a number of other factors.

This will help you to know the type of salary range that you can expect or request.

One of the main disadvantages is from an employee perspective. If an employer offers a salary range, then they are likely to want to pay as close to the bottom end of that range as possible.

This means that it can be difficult to achieve the higher end of the salary range due to not ticking the right boxes or having enough qualifications or experience.

Final Thoughts

Some people really appreciate it when a company lists a salary range on their job advertisements, and others really don't like it.

Whatever your personal viewpoint, it is important to understand how salary ranges can be useful.

Salary ranges can offer valuable insight as to how a company values a particular role.

This can help you to understand how the company stands in relation to its competitors, as well as reassure you that the role you are applying for is valued by the company you are applying to.

By creating a salary range for yourself, you can put a figure on the value of your own time and expertise.

This can help employers to see why you are the best candidate for the job and can also help to engage recruiters in conversations regarding career progression and financial compensation.

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