Skip to content

How Do You Qualify for the Professional Employee Exemption?

In Part 2 of our series on understanding FLSA exemptions, we went over the qualifications for the administrative employee exemption. In Part 3, we will cover the professional exemption.

There are two general types of exempt professional employees: learned professionals and creative professionals.

To qualify for the learned professional employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met:

  • The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis at a rate not less than $684 per week (as of 2020).
  • The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work which is predominantly intellectual in character and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment.
  • The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning.
  • The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.

To qualify for the creative professional employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met:

  • The employee must be compensated either on a salary or fee basis at a rate of not less than $684 per week.
  • The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring invention, imagination, originality, or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor.

Teachers are exempt if their primary duty is teaching, tutoring, instructing, or lecturing in the activity of imparting knowledge, and if they are employed and engaged in this activity as a teacher in an educational establishment.

Likewise, an employee holding a valid license or certificate permitting the practice of law or medicine is exempt if the employee is actually engaged in such a practice. An employee who holds the requisite academic degree for the general practice of medicine is also exempt if he or she is engaged in an internship or resident program for the profession.

The salary and salary basis requirements do not apply to bona fide practitioners of law or medicine.

In Part 4, we will be going into the computer employee, outside sales employee, and highly-compensated worker exemption.

About the author, Rhamy

Rhamy grew up watching and working with his mother and grandmother in the senior insurance market. This familiarity with the struggles faced by people trying to navigate the incredibly complicated and heavily regulated healthcare market led him to start Poplar Financial while working on his degree at the University of Memphis. After completing his MBA and Bachelors in Finance and Economics, Rhamy guided Poplar Financial through the disruptive opportunity that is the Affordable Care Act. Since then Poplar Financial has received numerous awards from major insurance carriers and has completed its fourth year in a row of doubling in size. Now his team focuses on the processes around human resources and specializes in providing companies with between 20 and 1000 employees with the payroll, benefits, and HR needs.

Leave a Comment