The average employee works about fifteen hours of overtime every month. Most families count on that extra income. Fortunately, most workers qualify for time-and-a-half for every hour worked over 40 in a week.

 A few notes before we get to the exempt categories. These wage and hour categories do not apply to blue-collar workers. Federal law defines these individuals as “workers who perform work involving repetitive operations with their hands, physical skill and energy.” This definition is rather broad. Nurses are arguably blue-collar workers, even though they have college degrees and professional licenses.

These categories also do not apply to emergency responders. Such individuals are entitled to overtime pay even if they are filing paperwork or performing other administrative tasks.

Highly-Compensated Employees

White-collar workers (people who work in professional or office environments) are ineligible for overtime pay if they earn at least $107,432 a year. At least $684 a week must be a regular salary. Additionally, these workers must be paid a salary and fit into the professional, administrative, or executive exception discussed below.

Outside Sales

Income level and method of payment are largely irrelevant to this exemption. Workers are ineligible for overtime if their primary duty is making sales and the worker is regularly away from the office. Courts apply both these prongs very strictly.

Computer Employees

Pretty much all workers in pretty much all fields use computers. An overtime exemption applies if the worker:

  • Is a programmer, analyst, or engineer,
  • Designs, develops, documents, analyzes, creates, tests, or modifies computer programs or systems,
  • Consults with users to determine hardware of other specifications, and/or
  • Designs, documents, tests, creates or modifies operating systems.

Furthermore, exempt overtime computer employees must earn at least $684 a week or $27.63 per hour.

Learned Professionals

Workers are ineligible for overtime if they have advanced knowledge is a field of learning or science and they use that learning to exercise judgment and discretion. Additionally, these workers must earn at least $684 per week. This exemption is controversial as to professional employees who do not perform professional services (e.g. attorneys who review documents).

Creative Professionals

If the “employee’s primary duty” is “the performance of work requiring invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor,” and the person earns a salary of at least $684 a week, the worker is not eligible for overtime. The high compensation and salary requirement ensures that most creative workers qualify for overtime.


These individuals perform non-manual work that’s directly related to general business operations, earn a salary of at least $684 a week, and “exercise discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.”


Generally, managers are not executives. These individuals may have some input on hiring and firing matters, but they do not have authority in such situations. This authority is a requirement as is earning a $684 weekly salary, regularly managing at least two full-time employees, and overseeing either the enterprise or a department.

Most workers have the right to receive overtime pay. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Greenville employment law attorney, contact the Briggs Law Firm. After-hours calls are available.

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