What to Expect From an Hourly Position
With an hourly job, you are required to log your hours at work using the employer's preferred method. This may be a standard punch card system, a paper log sheet or even a computerized system. At the end of each pay period, your total hours worked will be calculated. You will receive compensation at the specified hourly rate for the exact amount of time that you worked. This means that the amount of your paychecks will most likely fluctuate from pay period to pay period. You will receive no guaranteed income, and if you are late to work or if your shift is cut short, your take-home income will reflect this.
Steady Income From a Salary
With a salary, your employer will specify how much money you will earn over the course of a year. This amount is divided equally by the number of pay periods for the employer's pay schedule. If you arrive a few minutes late one day, if the office is closed due to bad weather or if some other event prevents you from working your full shift one day, you generally will not be penalized. Both full-time hourly and salary positions may qualify for sick time and vacation time, but you may find that many employers are more lenient or flexible with time off for doctor's appointments or if you are running a little bit late one day for salary employees. This is not the case with all employers, but it is rather common.
A Word About Overtime An important difference to note between hourly and salary positions relates to overtime. A standard work week is considered to be 40 hours. The hourly rate that non-salaried professionals receives applies to the first 40 hours worked during a week. Any time that you work beyond this 40 hours during a week may qualify for overtime pay. There are some exceptions to this, but generally, you will be well-compensated if you are required to work extra hours during a week. Some hourly employees count on the availability of overtime to pad their paychecks, and they actively seek out overtime hours. With a salaried position, you generally will not be compensated for overtime pay. Essentially, hourly employees are paid an annual salary in exchange for a specific job being done. If it takes you longer to do your job, you will not receive extra income. In some cases, salaried employees may regularly work as many as ten or 12 hours or day, and some may even work six or seven days per week.
Making a Decision That is Right For You
Each job position is unique, and each employee is also unique. For a position where overtime is common or even expected, a higher than average salary may be adequate compensation. However, if an average salary is offered and the employee likely will be required to work more than 40 hours per week, this may not be financially beneficial to an employee. An job applicant may need to ask questions during the interview and hiring process to determine how many hours he or she will reasonably be expected to work before making a decision. In addition, the job applicant's personal financial situation should also be taken into account. Those who have some flexibility with regards to the amount of their take-home pay each pay period may more comfortably accept an hourly position.
In some cases, job applicants will not be able to choose between an hourly or salary position. The pay structure will generally be determined by the employer rather than the employee. However, if you are in the enviable position of being able to select between two job offers or if you want to make sure that you will be compensated well for the work that you are being asked to do, you should understand the differences between hourly and salary positions. While the face value of a job offer may seem attractive, it is always important to determine if it is generous based on the work required of you and if it is ideal for your financial situation.