New Survey Documents Pay of Hourly Workers on Campuses

April 21, 2014

Electrician supervisors and firefighters had the highest median salaries among hourly workers on college campuses in 2013-14, and food servers and custodians had the lowest, according to a report being released this week.

Conducted by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, the survey is the group’s first attempt to gather information on nonexempt staff members in higher education, workers who are paid an hourly rate and are eligible for overtime pay. Those employees are a vital but overlooked part of a campus work force, said the association’s president, Andy Brantley.

"Campus leaders frequently struggle to attract and retain the talent needed for nonexempt positions, the employees who truly make the campus run," Mr. Brantley wrote in an email. "This survey data will provide much-needed information regarding salaries of these positions."

The report reflects the salaries of 177,165 nonexempt staff in 118 positions at 807 public and private colleges and universities.

The association released median salary data for university administrators, faculty members, and professional staff members earlier this spring.

As expected, Mr. Brantley said, the hourly positions on campuses that require training beyond a high-school diploma paid workers best. Those included firefighters, police officers, paralegals, and electrician supervisors, whose median salary of $54,828 was the survey’s highest.

Positions that are often filled by workers who have not graduated from high school, like food servers and custodians, had lower salaries, Mr. Brantley said.

Food servers, who were paid a median salary of $24,213, earned the lowest pay.

Mr. Brantley said the survey would give colleges and universities the first reliable salary data on some positions, like research and lab assistants, that exist only on college campuses.

"Research assistants and lab assistants are an important part of the teaching and learning for many of our campuses," he wrote. The association’s survey showed that those assistants typically earned $35,000 to $40,000 in 2013-14.