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More Money? Faculty Pay Is on the Rise

By Corey Murray

New report says median pay for community college faculty was up 2 percent above inflation in 2013–14.

There’s some positive news in the ongoing struggle to recruit and retain quality instructors at the nation’s community colleges: Even with recent funding and budget struggles, new evidence suggests that faculty pay is on the rise.

Just how much of a pay bump are we talking about? At 2 percent, it can hardly be considered a windfall. But if salary data coming out of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources is right, growth in the median base salary for community college instructors exceeded the rate of U.S. inflation, which hovered right around 1.5 percent.

Part of the organization’s annual Faculty Salary Survey for Two-Year Community and Technical Colleges, the findings include responses from more than 26,000 community and technical college faculty members at 213 institutions nationwide.

Looking to bring on new staff or conduct salary reviews for the hard-working people you already have on board? Here’s a quick snapshot of the findings:

Colleges with unionized staffs saw bigger increases. Faculty members who belong to professional unions saw their salaries go up an average of 2.1 percent, according to the survey, while unionized community college employees reported a slightly smaller bump, in the neighborhood of 1.9 percent.

Where faculty are concerned

$60,000 is in the ballpark. According to the survey, the average nine- to 10-month salary for community college instructors was $59,705, though the salary was higher for unionized employees.

But it really depends on specialty. Faculty with the lowest salaries on average, were in precision production (manufacturing), transportation and materials moving and science technicians or technologists. On the opposite end of the salary spectrum, many of the highest-paid faculty members specialized in architecture, ethics and cultural studies, and legal support services.

What about department heads?

Somewhat similar findings. The highest-paid department heads specialized in, engineering, architecture and related programs, and the human sciences; the lowest-paid department heads specialized in basic skills development and remedial education, agriculture programs, and services and precision production.

 The best news about being a department head? Bonuses. Some 60 percent of department heads who responded to the survey reported receiving an annual bonus, with the average hovering around $5,900.

What about during the summer? While annual salaries were gauged over a nine- to 10-month period, 51 percent of department chairs indicated that they receive summer salaries. Seventy-six percent of those respondents said they receive a reduction in the number of courses they have to teach during the summer.

Bringing on part-time adjuncts. Not all community college faculty members are full time. Most colleges use part-time adjunct faculty members to help fill in the gaps.

According to the survey, the median number of adjunct faculty members employed, per discipline, per college, is 15. English departments hire the most adjuncts, with an average of 53 such part-time employees. Most adjuncts teach between 5 to 7 credit hours and receive an average salary of $858 per credit hour, with health-profession specialties demanding the highest rate of pay per credit hour, according to the survey.

Is your college hiring new faculty? Have you observed similar trends?

Corey Murray

is editor of the 21st-Century Center.

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