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Analyze This: Data Crunchers See Employment Number Rise


Data analysts will probably feel a sense of job security as they crunch the numbers from  CUPA-HR’s 2018 Professionals in Higher Education Survey. Their category saw the greatest increase in positions, gaining 93% from 282 jobs in 2017 to 545 in 2018.

Overall, other education professionals (which includes the positions of biostatistician, statistician, data scientist and data analyst) grew by 43% while the safety professionals and police and public safety categories both grew by 30%.

The growth categories aren’t a surprise, said Jacqueline Bichsel, director of research at CUPA-HR. “Institutions continue to invest more in analytics for student success and strategic decision making, so data analysts are in demand,” she said. “And an increased media focus on sexual assaults and hazing incidents may underlie a need for a greater police presence on campus to respond to or prevent such incidents.”

Other survey findings include:

  • Overall, higher education professionals saw a 2.2% salary increase for 2017-18. Professionals in athletic affairs and institutional affairs received the largest hikes while the smallest went to academic affairs and research.
  • Professionals in health science and environmental sustainability make the highest salaries while those in student affairs make the lowest. 
  • Academic affairs, student affairs and IT are the top three professional employment areas, making up about half of all professional positions in higher education. 
  • Women are well represented in professional positions but earn only 90 cents for every $1 earned by men. In contrast, racial/ethnic minorities are under-represented in most professional positions, making up only 22% of the workforce, but their salaries are nearly equal to those of their white counterparts.
  • Areas with the highest median age are facilities and supervisors of office/clerical, skilled craft and service/maintenance personnel while the youngest are student affairs, athletic affairs and other education.
  • The median tenure for higher-ed professionals is four years.

This year’s survey took a deeper dive into research positions (research assistant, research associate, research scholar, senior research scholar and principal research scholar in the fields of physical, social, medical and life sciences). Among the findings: 

  • The lowest-level titles — assistants and associates — make up about two-thirds of research professionals in physical sciences, social sciences and life sciences and about 80% in medical sciences.

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