What are job levels?

What are job levels?

You might have come across the term levels when researching salary and compensation. We often mention it in the context of FairComp.

But what does it mean?

This short article will demystify the term so you don’t have to wonder.

What are levels?

So, what exactly are job levels? They're hierarchies, each representing a different level of experience, responsibility, and seniority within an organization.

The hierarchy is divided into two main tracks: the individual contributor (IC) track, which focuses on specialized skills and expertise, and the management track, which emphasizes leadership and decision-making.

Your company’s leveling system may vary, but based on research from thousands of employers and compensation experts, we found that this leveling framework works best across the board. 

Why are levels important?

Job titles vary from company to company. Levels distinguish job titles from degrees of skill, experience, and responsibility.

What could be an Account Executive at one company may have the title Director of Partnerships at another company. By mapping each individual to a level, you’ll find that both are, for example, L3 on the IC track and should be paid accordingly.

Similarly, you might have a Director of Partnerships who manages managers; in this case, they’d be an L5 on the Manager track.

Want to get to the next level? Check out our article on how to get a promotion in the next six months.

How should I use levels when negotiating?

It’s important to ask for the level of the role you’re interviewing for. Most recruiters won’t have any issues with sharing this information.

If they have a job-level rubric that breaks down each level's responsibilities, skills, and experience, that’s even better.


Because you can tailor your negotiation stance to the definition of each level.

If, for example, an L3 is defined as someone with 2-4 years of experience managing teams with XYZ skills, and you have 5 years of experience with those exact skills, then you should qualify for the top of the band. 

In some cases, this may even qualify you to get an L4 offer. Just be aware that this will come with a different level of responsibility.

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