Employment Growth in Higher Education

by Winona Weindling

Article content is provided by HigherEdJobs.
Results from the 2018 Professionals in Higher Education Survey by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) show that some higher ed professions are growing more quickly than others. The survey showed that while overall employment in higher education increased by seven percent in the past year, the fields of "other education" and "safety" grew the fastest, despite being two of the smallest fields in higher education.

"Other education," which includes professionals such as statisticians and data analysts, grew by 43 percent. "Safety," which includes professionals such as police and public safety officers, grew by 30 percent. Jacqueline Bichsel, CUPA-HR's director of research, hypothesized as to why these areas may see the most growth. "Institutions continue to invest more in analytics for student success and strategic decision-making, so data analytics are in demand," said Bichsel. "And an increased media focus on sexual assaults and hazing incidents may underlie a need for greater police presence on campus to respond to or prevent such incidents."

The professional areas that experienced the least growth from 2017 to 2018 were research, supervisors, and athletic affairs, although all three fields did grow slightly. The survey also found that the median salary increased over the past year by 2.2 percent, with those in athletic affairs and institutional affairs experiencing the largest median salary increase.

In terms of size, academic affairs, student affairs, and IT are the three largest employment areas in higher education, making up approximately half of all higher education positions. And although research was not a field with substantial growth, the survey did look specifically at professionals in research positions. Results showed that the lowest-level research positions comprise two-thirds of total research professionals in physical sciences, social sciences, and life sciences, and over three-quarters of research professionals in the medical sciences. The majority of research professionals are White or Asian, and the representation of Latino and Black research professionals decreases with increases in rank. However, the survey found one exception: Latinos make up a large proportion of scholars in medical science.

For more information about the 2018 Professionals in Higher Education Survey, including charts depicting growth in professional areas, selected findings, and a list of participating institutions, visit the CUPA-HR website.