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International Pay Scale

Current Solution

The Compensation Task Force (CTF) announced that beginning September 1st, 2015, all international field instructor pay scales would be adjusted to annual exchange rates. These wages are re-evaluated every January 1st. It was reaffirming to see the CTF’s solution fall in line with the drafted solutions written by the NIA as well as both Chilean and Indian Instructors. Please refer to the CTF Update for more specifics. 

What happens when the dollar weakens?

With every great plan, there are downsides. In this situation, it is important to remember how the strength of today’s dollar plays into this. This solution was driven by strong feedback from faculty and is based on the unacceptable discrepancy between wages in some areas. This solution means a significant change in wages (upwards) for many staff starting September 1st, based on the local currency being so weak in comparison. However, at some point the US dollar will weaken again. It might be next year or 10 years from now. When it weakens, those paid in a different currency will see an associated pay cut in local currencies. By faculty strongly advocating for this solution and ultimately getting this solution, we're accepting a situation where at some point in the future, some staff might see a year on year 10-30% pay cut. When drafting potential solutions for the CTF to consider, most international instructors acknowledged this possibility and accepted the inherent risks as an inevitable part of working for a dynamic organization, such as NOLS. The NIA and CTF hope to raise the awareness for this possibility down the line.   


NIA members have been concerned with the disparity in pay rates at different NOLS campuses around the world. Put simply, the same instructor, working at the same level (e.g. PL), has been paid differently depending on where their course takes place. NOLS policies, exchange rates, and differing national labor laws all play into this. In some countries local instructors are paid more than their American counterparts. We understand the need to pay faculty in some countries at a higher pay scale, and have supported this as an early and forward-thinking step toward higher compensation for all. However, in other instances (India, Chile, and occasionally Canada) local instructors have historically been paid less than they would have been had their course taken place in the United States. Some locations were seeing a 40% difference when working in their home country.

International Compensation Survey Results

In the hopes of supporting our fellow instructors as well as gathering clear, hard data for the CTF, the NIA set out to investigate how this system could be made more equitable. A survey was created that gathered a broad range of opinions that we feel accurately represent affected staff on this issue. The results were shared with the CTF and the EDT.

37 instructors participated in this survey. While this is a low number, we believe that it was representative of the majority of international staff adversely affected.

o 21 responses (56.7%) represented instructors whom had been adversely affected the greatest.
o Based on the demographics at the time of the survey with reference to “active” field instructors:
• 11 (out of 24) Indian Instructors responded
• 5 (out of 14) Brazilian Instructors responded
• 5 (out of 17) Chilean Instructors responded

• 10 (out of 480) American Instructors responded (added here only for the sake of comparison)

International Pay Scale Resources

International Pay Scale Facts Summary

  • In the countries where NOLS is established as a legal entity, all nationals, working in their home country, need to be paid in country in their local currency.
  • Based on strong feedback from faculty at the time, NOLS created local pay-scales with the intent of protecting field staff from exchange rate fluctuations, hence fixing the pay in local currency. However, due to exchange fluctuations they ended up being a problem for staff: the US$ had been growing stronger. As a result field staff from some international branches were being paid less than their US citizen peers.
  • Some countries require field staff to be paid more than their US citizen peers due to local industry standards and or labor laws.
  • The NIA heard concerns and many ideas from staff from India, Chile and Brazil (where this is no longer an issue due to closure of NOLS Amazon) and conveyed these to Staffing.
  • A Compensation Task Force (CTF) was created by NOLS to work on the issue of international compensation. The CTF consisted of Chris Agnew, Deborah Nunnink, Jeff Buchanan, Linda Lindsey, and Rachael Price. This group met on multiple occasions to discuss some of the school-wide challenges with compensation and benefits. The NIA sent concerns and ideas collected from field staff to the CTF. At the same time, the CTF asked the NIA for specific suggestions, thus we drafted a potential solution we believed to best represent faculty affected most. 

What’s Next

The CTF will now shift its attention to some of the in-town wage issues and the impact of inflation on compensation increases. They will communicate next when they have something to report; the NIA will continue to post updates as they become available.

We encourage anyone with thoughts, questions, appreciations, and/ or concerns to become or remain engaged in the solution-oriented conversations that are occurring. The NIA website can be a great place to begin. Spread the word, and keep yourself involved.

Lastly, but most importantly, the NIA wants to thank the CTF for their hard work and diligence in creating a system that seems to be supported by most of those directly affected. Your efforts help those recognize that their voices have been heard. On behalf of NOLS faculty, thank you for listening!
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