Average Pay Increases for Academic Professionals Trailed Inflation This Year

March 25, 2013

The median base salary for professional staff members on college campuses increased by 2 percent this academic year, lagging slightly behind the rate of inflation.

The year-to-year salary increase is the same as last year's for those employees at the universities and colleges surveyed, according to an annual report released this week by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

The collected data are for employees at four-year and two-year colleges in positions with primary assignments and responsibilities that require professional-level expertise, and those who work in special functional areas, such as academic or student services, facility management, human resources, athletics, and similar departments.

The median pay increases at private institutions were 2.4 percent, slightly greater than at their public counterparts, where increases averaged 2 percent. That gap, however, has narrowed from last year, when the average salary increase for professionals at private institutions was 2.2 percent and at public ones, 1.4 percent.

The median increase across all institutions is just a fraction smaller than the 2.3-percent increase for administrators and the 2.1-percent increase for tenured and tenure-track faculty, according to data the association reported in February and March.

In the report on professional employees, the highest median pay increases from the 2011-12 academic year to this academic year were seen in the job categories of athletic affairs, with the salaries of those positions increasing by a median of 2.5 percent. The next-highest pay increase was in institutional-affairs jobs, which saw a 2.3-percent rise, followed by fiscal-affairs jobs, which experienced a jump of 2.2 percent. All other categories saw a median salary increase of 2 percent. These data were drawn from 10 job categories that were also surveyed a year ago. An 11th category, for research professionals, was added this year.

Gender Gap in Sports

Athletic coaches were among the highest-paid positions, particularly at research institutions. A head football coach makes a median salary of $96,403 across all types of institutions; at research institutions, football coaches have a median salary of $300,761.

There are gaps, however, between what coaches for men's and women's teams make. Men's ice-hockey coaches at research institutions, for example, are paid a median salary of $210,000, while women's ice-hockey coaches earn $97,282. Men's basketball coaches at research institutions earn a median salary of $250,000, and women's basketball coaches earn $175,000.

For other sports, such as golf, soccer, and volleyball, the median salaries are mostly comparable between men's and women's coaches.

The highest-paid individual position across all institutions, excluding coaches, is the staff physician, with a median salary of $137,864. That position is followed by staff lawyers, who earn a median salary of $110,000, and then veterinarians, who earn $109,663.

The lowest-paid position included in the survey was the student-residence-hall manager, whose median salary was nearly $31,000 but included room and board. Among the other lowest-paying positions were: student-admission counselor, academic evaluator, head cashier, financial-aid counselor, and medical-science research assistant.

The association's report reflects the salaries of 182,482 professionals in higher education in 275 positions at 1,109 private and public colleges nationwide. Of the colleges surveyed, 54 percent were private and 46 percent public.

This year's survey was a redesigned replacement for the association's former survey of midlevel administrative and professional salaries. The redesigned survey includes 170 positions previously covered in the midlevel-salary survey, 76 positions that were part of the former administrative-compensation survey, and 29 positions that were not previously covered in any of the group's surveys. Forty-five positions from the midlevel survey were eliminated.