Higher ed IT directors, staffers see slight pay boost in 2016

Average salaries for IT employees in private institutions rose more than at public institutions, according to a recent analysis.
EdScoop Feature Image

IT directors and staffers in colleges and universities saw a modest boost in salaries over the past year, but not always in proportion to their expanding roles, and IT salaries at public institutions aren’t keeping up with those at private institutions, according to a report from Campus Technology.

According to the analysis, average salaries for IT employees in public institutions rose to $74,390 in 2016 from $74,021 the previous year. The median pay was $69,400, a slight increase from $66,000 in 2015.

IT employees at private not-for-profit schools fared better, earning $83,441, well above the previous year’s average of $75,771.

For those holding IT director-level titles in public institutions, earnings actually decreased from 2015 to 2016, from $105,090 to $96,400. The figure was about the same for those at not-for-profit institutions.


The top earners at institutions of higher education, holding the titles of chief information officer, chief technology officer and chief security officer, earned an average of $113,494, with the median salary hitting $110,000.

Those figures ran higher at more renowned institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, Columbia University, Harvard University and other Ivy League schools, where salaries averaged $165,657, and the median reached $174,000.

The survey, however, pointed to more mixed financial progress for IT staffers.

Workers who provided help desk or tech support at public institutions actually fared better than their private school counterparts, making an average of $57,503, a boost from $49,141 in 2015. Comparable salaries for private school staffers, averaged $46,400 in 2016, down from $52,636 the previous year.

The survey also found school IT directors and staffers reporting anecdotally that they are struggling to work with tighter budgets each year. But overall, 3 in 4 respondents said they were satisfied with their jobs, citing the quality of life at work as a compensating factors for money. They spoke of fewer hours punching in the clock and helpful co-workers who are enjoyable to be around.


Some public institution employees lamented the fact that they make significantly less than their private counterparts.

“Depressing that I make 60 percent of what colleagues in similar for-profit organizations make,” said a systems administrator at a not-for-profit in Massachusetts. “Also sad that I have no hope of promotion or significant raise or even job title change anytime in the foreseeable future.”

There was also a respondent who claimed that there is a noticeable gender gap in pay, and that there was “still a tremendous inconsistency in salary for women versus men in the same job role, especially in education.”

Looking forward, just 4 in 10 employees who were surveyed said they foresee a salary increase in the new year, while 6 in 10 employees at private colleges and universities expected raises.

Only 8 percent of those surveyed who work at public and private not-for-profit institutions predicted that they would receive new titles this year.


“Challenging to stay relevant, obtain new skills while still responsible for supporting existing applications,” said one tech support professional at a four-year public school in West Virginia. “Usage increases and systems [are] more complex, but support staff numbers stay fixed.”

About 75 percent of respondents have been in higher ed IT for more than 10 years, compared to 72 percent in 2015.

Reach the reporter at or follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.

Latest Podcasts