1. HR Process for Employing Project Management Staff
  2. Job Posting and Recruiting, Candidate Screening and Interviewing
  3. New Employee Set-up and Support
  4. Structure and Title for Project Management Staff
  5. Commitment Period for US-Paid Project Management Staff
  6. Employee Compensation & Benefits
  7. Promotions, Raises, Bonues, and Overtime Polices
  8. Immigration & Work Authorization
  9. Contact Human Resources


HR Process for Employing Project Management Staff

The following section provides a high-level overview of the HR process at IPA as it relates to employing Project Management Staff. Please see the Project Management page for further details related to hiring Project Management Staff for IPA Projects.

  • Decisions regarding project staffing should be made in collaboration between Researchers and Country Program Management, with Country Program Management reserving final decision-making authority. The Global Programs Department will be consulted when staffing arrangements are atypical
  • No verbal or written offers of employment, or compensation for wage-earning services for U.S.-Paid employees and consultants should be made to candidates without express approval and coordination with the Global Human Resources Department, and as applicable, other IPA managers, including project management staff
  • Only Global Human Resources may approve changes in job title/role, relocation, or change in compensation of U.S. Paid employees
  • The Global Human Resources Department determines the specific hiring mechanism for expatriate (field-based) and U.S.-based staff

Job Posting and Recruiting, Candidate Screening and Interviewing

  • Country Program Management leads, and must be involved, in project staffing and hiring decisions from the onset
    • Country Program Management coordinates announcements and postings for local job positions in accordance with local law and practice
    • Country Directors and other hiring managers in particular play an active role in helping screen candidates and must interview applicants for staff that will join respective Country Offices
  • When recruiting US-paid Project Management Staff, the Global Human Resources Department may assist with job posting templates and development of job descriptions, as requested 
    • For research positions, IPA may employ the J-PAL Common Application process to select qualified candidates for international positions
    • Note there may be an additional cost to post positions and the cost will be borne by project budgets
  • As a first step, full-time permanent US-paid IPA positions to be paid through IPA require a formal job description (JD) to be submitted to the HR Department for review and grading prior to hire. The HR department may provide guidance on title, level, and salary
  • Every hire at IPA must be documented through an individual JD; if more than one position is available this must be noted.
  • Researchers are encouraged to interview short-listed candidates
  • In certain cases, it will be required that the position will be posted on the IPA website and other job posting locations for a minimum of two weeks to represent a competitive hiring process.
    • These requirements are particularly important for hires based in the United States due to US Federal Regulations.
    • The HR department will advise Hiring Managers on the competitive process.
  • In the process of hiring, Country Program Management will need to advise the HR department regarding specific concerns including immigration needs, taxation questions, residency, etc.
  • Global Human Resources Department is able to assist with guidance and best practices related to candidate screening, such as writing prompts, interview questions, and resume and reference screening tools, as appropriate. Additional resources are available upon request.
  • In the event that positions are to be based in the USA, IPA is required to ensure that all open positions be competed in a fair and transparent manner in order to stay compliant with US employment law, donor requirements, and IPA policy and procedure
    • For positions located in the United States, IPA must require that all applicants/potential candidates apply through the IPA website for the position as posted in order to meet federallymandated
  • Applicant Tracking and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) requirements.
    • If you are using the J-PAL/IPA database to source candidates, hiring managers must confirm that candidates have also applied through the IPA website for the position as posted
    • Please note: We are working closely with J-PAL to provide a single robust system; however, this will take some time to achieve

New Employee Set-up and Support

  • The Global Human Resources Department manages the setup and benefits enrollment for all U.S.-paid staff
  • It is requested that Country Program Management provide the Global Human Resources Department with at least two weeks of lead time before hiring a candidate (or student volunteer) for appropriate coordination and communication, receipt, and comprehension of key documents
    • Researchers should coordinate and confirm staffing requirements and planning in advance of this internal deadline to ensure appropriate set-up and support
    • Additional lead time may be required for international candidates being hired to work (physically) in the U.S. requiring work authorization or a visa, or those staff working in a country with significant visa restrictions
    • Staff who do not have appropriate time to plan their move may have more difficulty in adjusting or face challenges at a later date (e.g. healthcare, necessary prescriptions, appropriate access to banking and resources, tax status, insurance, immigration, etc.), some which threaten to diminish not only the wellbeing of staff, but often the quality of a project. Please consider this when planning the hiring process
  • The Global Human Resources Department will coordinate with HQ’s Information Technology Department to provide a work-issued computer and relevant software
  • Country Program Management manages the setup of national Project Management Staff and, where applicable, benefits enrollment

Structure and Title for Project Management Staff

IPA has several standard position titles for Project Management Staff positions. Position titles were updated in early 2014 to ensure consistency throughout the organization. All positions are now clearly linked to specific roles.

Researchers may be directly involved in hiring Professional, Senior Professional, and Manager level employees with titles that match the following: 

Professional Level

  • Current Title: Research Associate or Research Analyst
  • Former Title:  Project Associate (PA), PA2, or Senior PA
  • Role:
    • Research Associates and Project Associates work closely with academic researchers and other field staff to perform a variety of tasks including, but not limited to: designing survey questionnaires, conducting qualitative research, running pilot exercise, refining study design and surveying instruments, managing survey teams, negotiating contracts with survey firms, checking and analyzing data, cleaning data and assisting in preliminary analysis, assisting in the writing of project reports and policy memos, and coordinating with local partners running the programs being evaluated.
    • Research Analysts assist in the development of data collection protocols, prepare requests for approval to relevant internal review boards (IRB), clean data collected from the field and support with preliminary data analysis, write project reports, and support other research assistant tasks as needed.

Senior Professional Level

  • Current Title: Senior Research Associate (Sr. RA) or Research Coordinator*
  • Former Title: Project Coordinator
  • Role: 
    • ​Sr. RA’s oversee a single project that is complicated and has a government partner, but does not require the oversight of other Research Associates. May have a master’s degree but must have at least one to two years of experience. 
    • Research Coordinators will oversee a very large project that requires the oversight of other Research Associates or up to three projects (see options three and four above). Research Coordinators will typically have a Master’s degree and should have previous management experience, usually as Research Associates. 

Manager Level

  • Current Title: Research Manager**
  • Role:
    • Research Managers oversee multiple projects, are members of the Senior Management of the Country Program and can be involved in project development and other cross organizational projects. Research Managers should have masters degrees and significant work experience.

*From now on we are clearly defining Sr. RAs and RCs as positions set by a specified role and responsibility, in accordance with the information provided above.
**Building off of the successful research management model in J-PAL regional offices, IPA has introduced the Research Manager role to provide support in leading research support and training activities, scoping new projects, and hiring and managing Research Associates.”

  • Official IPA managers are designated to all of IPA’s staff. Most often it is the Country Director, Deputy Country Director or Research Manager who plays this role and leads the hiring, on-boarding, management and review of Project Management Staff in coordination with Researchers.
  • For our field teams, we now have standardized titles of Field Manager, Associate Field Manager, Senior Field Officer, and Field Officer across all offices.
  • Generally, there are three categories of project staff:
    • US-Paid Staff Full-time, permanent staff who work in a country program but are paid from the US. These staff are usually expatriates or third-country nationals
    • National Staff Full-time, permanent staff who work in a country program and are paid out of the country office. These staff are generally citizens of the country where the office or project is located
    • Temporary Staff Full-time but temporary staff who work in a country program and are paid out of the country office. Surveyors are often hired in this category
  • IPA may also engage non-staff members to support projects. Potential arrangements include:
    • Student Volunteers: Student volunteers can be either international or national. All volunteerships with IPA are unpaid
    • Consultants: There may be commitments that will be structured as consultancies rather than full-employment. Consultancies have different cost structure and generally do not include IPA sponsored benefits. Note that the hiring of consultants should not replace the required hiring of a full-time Project Management Staff, which is required on all research projects
  • Each project and country program is unique so there may be times when the above generalizations do not apply. The Country Program Management staff in the relevant country programs will be able to discuss staffing possibilities available in that particular office with researchers

Commitment Period for US-Paid Project Management Staff

While commitment periods may vary by project and research needs, IPA strongly suggests, when possible, a two-year minimum commitment for US-paid Project Management Staff:

  • The commitment period clarifies expectations between the Researchers, Country Program Management, and the employee
  • Employment with IPA is “at-will” and acceptance of an offer does not imply that IPA or the candidate has entered into an employment contract. The “at-will” clause gives employees and employers the ability, within reason, to terminate the agreement without retribution to either party
  • IPA finds that Project Management Staff who have stayed more than one year are the most successful. IPA rarely has trouble finding a new position for well-functioning Project Management Staff whose projects have completed 

Employee Compensation

One of IPA’s goals is to continue to recruit and retain top talent at all levels, so that our staff can conduct, manage and support the highest quality research.

  • The Global HR Department is responsible for creating compensation structures that are fair and transparent across global markets. As such, the HR Department reserves the right to:
  • Mandate compensation levels for staff on IPA payroll
  • Change or amend such pay scales as appropriate.
  • IPA Human Resources maintains and regularly updates guidelines for U.S.-paid job levels, categories, and pay scales in all countries where IPA has operations, and develops related cost of living estimates.
  • In-country tax liability for US-paid Project Management Staff will be assumed by IPA.
  • Neither national Project Management Staff nor national temporary staff receive support for local taxes.

In order to ensure parity throughout the organization, guide hiring and pay decisions, and assist in building compensation structures that are externally more market competitive, we have conducted a compensation survey in partnership with two organizations that have expertise in doing so (Inside NGO and Birches Group). Both organizations compared IPA to other international NGOs in the countries where we are based.

  • The findings of market research data showed that IPA compensation was below minimum in  Researcher Guidelines: Working with IPA 52 most countries for many employees, and that there was a lack of parity in salaries throughout the organization.
  • Consequently, we have developed a compensation structure where the mid-point corresponds approximately to the 25th percentile of market-based data.
  • Base salary ranges for all Project Management Staff (from Senior Professional level up through Director level), regardless of location or nationality, have been standardized internationally.
  • Particularly, Researchers may be involved in hiring staff at the following internationally standardized rates associated with the “Senior Professional” and “Manager” job levels:

International Salary Structure

Internationally Standardized Job Level Min Mid Max
Manager, e.g., Research Manager $35,000 $50,000 $62,000
Senior Professional $28,000 $40,000 $46,000
  • Entry level (e.g. Associate) compensation has been pegged to national markets to ensure IPA’s competitiveness in the countries where we work.
  • A separate structure based on the international market has been developed to ensure that IPA continues to attract the highest level of quality candidates for its more senior research and country management positions.
  • Compensation structures have been formally established for the Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and United States offices. Smaller offices will not have a formal compensation structure and will rely on annual market survey data to benchmark positions and adjust accordingly (with global support from IPA Programs and Human Resources teams).
  • In instances where projects are not able to absorb cost of salary adjustments, IPA’s Senior Management has agreed to invest in staff and cover costs from other sources until new salaries are included in new proposal budgets. We recognize that IPA and its projects work with financial constraints, however it is critical that we take this important first step towards ensuring parity and that we support recruitment and retention of highly qualified candidates.
  • The new salary structure should be used for budgeting purposes going forward. As usual, Country Management is responsible for putting together project budgets with you and will have the relevant information.
  • For purposes of project budgeting, Researchers should work closely with Country Program Management to arrange the appropriate staffing plan on the project
  • To appropriately and accurately capture and communicate costs in project budgets, please note the following regarding project staffing costs:
    • These costs must capture a number of factors which may include, but are not limited to, base salary, direct taxation adjustments, and benefits (less taxes, as relevant)
    • These costs may be broken into direct (net/gross) and indirect (fringe, benefits, taxes paid on behalf of staff, etc.) pay
    • Budgeting for these costs must align both with relevant donor requirements and with IPA policies

Employee Benefits

Health insurance and vaccinations

  • IPA provides all US-paid Project Management Staff with access to health insurance and emergency evacuation insurance
  • Insurance for Project Management Staff is covered by project budgets and is included in the “fringe” line-item
  • All US-paid Project Management Staff are required to be enrolled in international or domestic health insurance and emergency evacuation insurance prior to beginning work at IPA or traveling to the project site
  • Some country programs provide health insurance to national Project Management Staff, while others do not. Similarly, some country programs provide catastrophic insurance to temporary staff (i.e. surveyors) while others do not
  • IPA provides all US-paid Project Management Staff based internationally with access to vaccinations. These staff are required to have obtained vaccinations prior to traveling to the project site
  • Note that in project budgets, vaccinations are not included in fringe and must be budgeted for separately.

Housing Accomodation

  • IPA does not provide housing to any Project Management Staff, and, as such, these costs are not included in project budgets
  • US-paid Project Management Staff based internationally are provided temporary lodging upon arrival to assist in the transition to more permanent lodging. Country Program Management assist Project Management Staff in finding suitable housing arrangements
  • All Project Management Staff’s work-related travel and accommodation costs are borne by project budgets and approved by Country Program Management

Vacation, Sick Days, and Home Leave

  • US-paid Project Management Staff that are based in a country program are provided vacation days based on years of service. Please see the US-Paid Employee Handbook for the most up to date leave policies
  • National Project Management Staff receive vacation time in accordance with country program HR policy
  • Country Program Management must approve all vacation time and be notified of sick days
  • Throughout IPA’s network of country programs, IPA observes holidays in accordance with mandated public holidays observed in the country of work
  • All US-paid Project Management Staff based internationally are provided one trip between their country program and home location per annum, to be included in all project budgets. Travel for home leave is not included in fringe and must be budgeted for separately


Promotions, Raises, Bonues, and Overtime Polices

  • All changes to US-paid Project Management Staff in status, grade, title, rank, benefits and/or compensation must be approved by the Global Human Resources Department and Country Program Management, in consultation with Global Programs Department
  • Similar changes to national Project Management Staff must be approved by Country Program Management and project budget holders, in consultation with Global Programs Department
  • IPA does not issue bonuses to any U.S.-paid employees
  • For national Project Staff in country program locations, IPA endeavors to be consistent with general practice which may include bonus and/or gratuity payments
  • IPA does not offer overtime pay for salaried staff, either US-paid or national
  • Work beyond the regular work week is at the discretion of the employee and the employee’s supervisor
  • Salaried employees may be asked to work overtime due to travel, special projects, meetings, etc.
  • Compensatory time may be granted at the discretion of Country Program Management, but is not guaranteed

Immigration & Work Authorization

In country programs

  • Visa, work, and/or residency permits for US-paid Project Management Staff working in the field are managed by the relevant Country Program Management
  • In cases where staff may be traveling to countries where IPA does not have a permanent presence through Country Programs, IPA employees serving as the hiring manager for these positions may consult with the Director of Global Human Resources for support and general guidance, and approval from Global Programs for such exceptions

In the United States

  • Note that for all employees working in the US, proof of employment authorization (including documents such as a passport) must be verified in person prior to employment with IPA.
    • This is relevant to all staff, including U.S. citizens
    • This also applies to staff that may work in the US even for a short period prior to traveling overseas, or those that come back to the US to work at any point during their tenure
    • For all such employees, IPA cannot put a staff member on payroll without verification of documents; this includes people Note that this requirement is not negotiable, by law
  • IPA will not backdate employment and cannot allow a “grace period” to receive appropriate documents prior to employment

For the most up-to-date information on suggested minimum qualifications, hiring guidelines, pay rates or job categories, please contact Global Human Resources at hr@poverty-action.org