Where the Jobs Are

Data show long-term growth of part-time faculty slots, administrative jobs outpacing instructor posts, and boom in for-profit sector.
August 3, 2006

Faculty members have for years been complaining that the higher education job market is growing the most in part-time positions. Data released by the Education Department Wednesday back up that contention. While the figures aren't new, the department's 10-year look at college and university employees shows that employment growth has been uneven -- in some cases dramatically so.

Comparing employment levels for faculty jobs in 1993 and 2003, the department found a 14.8 percent increase in the number of full-time faculty jobs. The number of part-time positions increased by 43.7 percent.

Total growth in faculty jobs over the decade was 26.4 percent. But that rate of increase was outpaced by several other categories of higher education employees: There was a 28.1 percent rise in executive and managerial jobs; a 44.9 percent uptick in the number of instructional/research assistant jobs; and a 45.4 percent increase in the number of professional support and service jobs.

A notable gap also took shape during the decade in the split between professional and non-professional employees -- at least for those on colleges' payrolls. While professional employees (faculty and administrators together) saw an increase of 33.6 percent, non-professional employees increased by only 0.9 percent. Secretarial positions were relatively flat (up only 0.1 percent) and jobs in skilled crafts and service and maintenance saw decreases. One explanation for those figures, however, is outsourcing by colleges, so many of those working at colleges may no longer be working for colleges or be counted in these totals.

When it comes to the kinds of institutions at which college employees work, the greatest number of employees are at public institutions and at four-year institutions, but the most significant increases are in for-profit higher education and at community colleges.

Where College Employees Work, 2003

Type of Institution Employees in 2003 % Change From 1993
Public 2,128,733 +19.4%
Private, nonprofit    926,068 +24.9%
For-profit      50,782 +155%
Four-year 2,499,229 +21.1%
Two-year    576,299 +25.5%

Geographically, the states where the number of higher education employees increased the most during the decade examined were Alaska (up 87.9 percent), Nevada (73 percent), Arizona (72.6 percent), Louisiana (57.6 percent), and New Hampshire (53.1 percent). Of those five states where total employment was up more than 50 percent, part-time employment increases significantly outpaced full-time increases. Each of the five states saw increases in excess of 100 percent in part-time employment.

Only the District of Columbia saw a net decrease in the number of employees during this period. Four other states saw expansion of less than 10 percent: West Virginia (8.4 percent), New York (7.3 percent), Michigan (7.1 percent), and Alabama (5.4 percent). The South and West saw strong gains that significantly increased their share of the total employee base in higher education. In 2003, higher ed employees in California made up 9.9 percent of all American higher ed employees, up from 9.3 percent a decade earlier. New York saw its share of higher ed employees drop to 7.9, from 8.9 percent a decade earlier.

In terms of demographics, the data show that white people hold more jobs -- across the board. But in many categories, the period of 1993-2003 saw non-white groups experience much more significant growth. Percentage growth was especially high among non-resident aliens and those whose race and ethnicity aren't known.

The data also show many disparities in academic employment. More than half of the black and Hispanic employees in higher education work in non-professional positions. Black faculty members outnumber Asian faculty members, but the latter have far more full-time professorial positions.

Racial Demographics of College Employees and Percentage Change, 1993-2003

Job Category White Black Hispanic Asian American Indian
Total in 2003 2,232,377 304,488 160,500 153,393 17,803
  • % Change
+13.0% +13.6% +61.1%   +62.8% +44.9%
Executive    146,631   16,937     6,729     4,772      955
  • % Change
+21.5% +38.0% +87.8% +103.3% +33.6%
Full-Time Faculty   491,211  31,760   19,195   40,535  2,801
  • % Change
  +7.1% +27.3% +60.8% +62.9% +48.8%
Part-Time Faculty 394,113   30,438   18,876  17,757  2,379
  • % Change
+31.7% +62.1% +87.3% +82.7% +72.3%
 598,898 157,791   80,375  34,110  7,105
  • % Change
  -5.2%   -5.8%  +43.1%  +37.2% +24.3%

Note: Non-resident aliens and those of unknown race not included.

The data found more men than women in most employment categories except for non-professional, where the overwhelmingly female secretarial employee pool tilts the data, and executive/managerial, where women edged out men by a small margin. But between 1993 and 2003, women showed larger gains in position totals. In the executive category, the percentage of women increased by 53.1 percent, compared to 9.7 percent for men. For all faculty jobs, the gain for women was 41.7 percent, compared to 16.8 percent for men.

The report also contains salary data, although only for full-time employees. The following figures are summary data by job category, with the percentage increases based on constant 2003 dollars).

Average Salaries of Full-Time Employees by Job Category, 2003

Job Category 2003 Average Salary % Change Since 1993
Executive/managerial $70,441 +16.9%
Faculty $64,459 +12.9%
Non-professional $28,333   +6.4%


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