Introduction and Key Findings

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Introduction

People who work in higher education do so for a variety of reasons, but money isn’t typically one of them. Indeed, monetary compensation ranks eleventh among factors keeping higher education IT employees at their current institution—behind such factors as quality of life, the work environment, their boss and campus leadership, occupational stability, and benefits. That said, money does matter. Few of us have the luxury of working for free, and our incomes should ideally be a fair reflection of the work we do and should enable us to meet our needs and live comfortably. And higher education IT employees are paid well, even by private-sector standards; the median of all higher education IT salaries across all position types is $90,000, or about $3,700 more than the median salary of computer and IT occupations in the US.1 There are, of course, some significant differences in salary across organizational levels, with CIOs earning the most ($140,000) followed by managers ($100,000) and IT staff ($70,000).

To better understand how various factors shape the salaries of higher education IT professionals, we published the Higher Education IT Salary Report, 2016.2 In that report, we identified a host of variables related to individual demographics and career paths, characteristics of current positions, and characteristics of current institutions that we thought would have an impact on determining the salaries of IT staff, managers, and CIOs. These included gender, generation, ethnicity, education level, years of experience (in higher education, at current institution, in current position), and Carnegie class. We included presidential cabinet membership for CIOs. For managers and CIOs, we included the number of direct reports. For staff and managers, we also included the IT sector in which their position falls. In this year’s report, we build upon these earlier findings by revisiting the original predictors and considering others that help us to understand why and how higher education IT employees earn what they earn.

Key Findings

  • A significant salary gap between men and women persists among IT staff. There are not statistically significant differences in the salaries of male and female CIOs or managers after controlling for other factors. However, female staff members are paid, on average, $7,023 less than their male counterparts.
  • Education level, age, and institution type are significantly correlated with salary. IT professionals who hold master's and PhDs can expect to earn significantly more than those with bachelor's and associate's degrees; older employees with more experience tend to earn more than younger employees with less experience; IT professionals who are employed at doctoral institutions—and especially at private doctorals—earn significantly more than those at other types of institutions.
  • With greater responsibility come greater salaries. The more direct reports managers have, the more they earn. And CIOs who hold a cabinet position at their institution earn about $30,000 more per year than their counterparts who do not have "a seat at the table."
  • Some higher education IT sectors pay better than others. Higher education IT professionals who hold positions in data, analytics, and business intelligence; information security and services; research computing/cyberinfrastructure; and executive leadership have higher salaries. Those in academic computing/instructional technology; design, media, and web; and desktop services or client support have lower salaries.
  • Institution type, cabinet membership, and years of experience in higher education prior to one's current institution are the only factors among those we considered that predict CIO salaries significantly. CIOs at doctoral institutions earn the most; AA/BA institution CIOs earn the least. Controlling for other factors, cabinet-level CIOs earn about $30,000 more than those who do not hold cabinet posts. For each year of prior experience in higher education at another institution, CIOs earn about $1,200 more.
  • The three strongest predictors of IT managers' salaries are institution type, the sector of one's position, and years of experience in higher education prior to joining one's current institution. Managers at DR institutions earn more than their AA, BA, and MA counterparts. Managers from IT executive leadership, information security and services, and research computing/cyberinfrastructure earn more than peers in other IT sectors. And each additional year of higher education experience at other institutions is worth about $800 in additional salary.
  • IT staff salaries are significantly predicted by gender, generation, institution type, education level, IT sector, and experience in higher education prior to joining one's current institution. Even after controlling for other factors, the observed gender gap persists among IT staff, with male IT staff earning about $7,000 more than their female peers.

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© 2019 EDUCAUSE. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.

Citation for this work
Ben Shulman and D. Christopher Brooks. The Higher Education IT Salary Report, 2019. Research report. Louisville, CO: ECAR, August 2019.

Notes

  1. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of computer and information technology occupations was $86,320 in May 2018.

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  2. D. Christopher Brooks and Pam Arroway, Higher Education IT Salary Report, 2016, research report (Louisville, CO: ECAR, October 2016).

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