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Salary vs. Wages: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 15, 2023
Salary is a fixed annual compensation, while wages are hourly or daily payments for work.

Key Differences

Salary refers to a fixed compensation that an employee receives, typically annually or monthly, regardless of the number of hours worked. Wages, on the other hand, are typically based on hours worked and are often paid weekly or bi-weekly.
Salary is often associated with "white-collar" jobs like managers, professionals, and executives. Wages are usually linked to "blue-collar" positions or those that require manual labor or specific tasks.
Employees on a salary are usually exempt from overtime regulations and receive the same amount regardless of the actual hours worked. Those who earn wages, however, are generally entitled to overtime pay if they work more than a standard workweek.
Benefits such as health insurance, retirement contributions, and paid time off might be more commonly associated with salaried positions. Wage earners might not always enjoy these benefits or might receive them at a reduced level.
One key distinction is the predictability of income. Salary earners have a predictable income, while wage earners might see fluctuations based on hours worked.

Comparison Chart

Payment Basis

Fixed annual or monthly pay
Paid by the hour or day

Job Type

Often "white-collar" jobs
Typically "blue-collar" jobs


Usually not eligible
Often eligible for overtime


May include health benefits, retirement, etc.
Might not have benefits or fewer benefits


Fixed and predictable income
Can vary based on hours worked

Salary and Wages Definitions


Salary is a fixed amount of money paid to an employee for services rendered.
Her salary as a manager was $60,000 a year.


Wages can be subject to overtime if an employee works beyond a standard workweek.
Working on a holiday meant she'd receive double her usual wages.


Salary is a predetermined amount of compensation, irrespective of actual hours worked.
Even if she worked overtime, her salary wouldn't change.


Wages represent compensation based on hours worked or tasks completed.
He received his wages every Friday for the hours he worked.


Salary refers to compensation that doesn't vary with work hours or performance.
Regardless of hours, her salary remained constant.


Wages might not include the same benefits as a salary.
As a part-time worker, she received wages without additional health benefits.


Salary often comes with additional benefits like health insurance or retirement contributions.
In addition to his salary, he received medical benefits and a 401(k) match.


Wages are typically earned by hourly workers and can vary week by week.
His wages fluctuated based on the seasonal demand.


Salary is a regular payment made by an employer to an employee, often on a monthly basis.
His salary was credited to his account on the first of every month.


Wages often reflect manual or task-specific labor.
The factory workers were paid wages based on their shifts.


Fixed compensation for services, paid to a person on a regular basis.


A regular payment, usually on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis, made by an employer to an employee, especially for manual or unskilled work.


A fixed amount of money paid to a worker, usually calculated on a monthly or annual basis, not hourly, as wages. Implies a degree of professionalism and/or autonomy.


Wages The price of labor in an economy.


Are benefits more common with salary or wages?

Benefits are often more common with salaried positions.

Can wage earners have fluctuating incomes?

Yes, wage earners might see income fluctuations based on hours worked.

Is a salary paid hourly?

No, salary is a fixed amount regardless of hours worked.

Do wage earners get paid for holidays?

It depends on the employer; some might offer holiday pay while others don't.

How often are wages typically paid?

Wages are often paid weekly or bi-weekly.

Can salaried workers have deductions?

Yes, salaries can have deductions for taxes, benefits, and other items.

Do wages always represent manual labor?

Not always; wages can be paid for various types of work, not just manual labor.

Do salaried employees have set work hours?

Not always; while they have a fixed income, their hours might vary.

Can wage earners receive tips?

Yes, some wage earners, especially in service industries, can receive tips in addition to wages.

Is salary associated with job performance?

While some salaries might include performance bonuses, the base salary is typically fixed.

Are salaries always paid monthly?

Not always; salaries can be paid bi-weekly, monthly, or even annually.

Who typically earns wages?

Hourly workers, such as retail or factory workers, often earn wages.

Can salary be negotiated?

Yes, salary is often negotiated during the hiring process or during performance reviews.

What is a salary?

Salary is a fixed compensation given to employees on an annual or monthly basis.

Is a bonus a part of a salary?

A bonus is typically separate from a salary and might be based on performance or company success.

How are overtime wages calculated?

Overtime wages are often calculated at a higher rate than regular wages, like time and a half.

Are wages affected by minimum wage laws?

Yes, wages for hourly workers must meet or exceed the applicable minimum wage.

How are wages defined?

Wages are payments made based on hours worked or tasks completed.

Do salaried employees get overtime?

Typically, salaried employees are exempt from overtime.

What's an example of a salaried position?

Positions like managers, executives, or professionals often receive a salary.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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