Chief Institutional Researcher Salary Data Available from CUPA-HR

​CUPA-HR’s Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey provides median salary data for Chief Institutional Researchers (CIR). Data across survey years indicate salary increases between 2-3% over each of the past three years. Figure 1 highlights the median salary for Chief Institutional Researchers overall and by Carnegie Classification, as reported in the 2014 survey. The overall median salary is $90,000. The highest median salary is at Doctoral universities ($118,418) and the lowest at Baccalaureate institutions ($81,201). In addition, the median salary at Associate’s institutions ($85,000) is higher than Master’s institutions ($84,431).  


Figure 2 highlights the change in median salary by year for Chief Institutional Researchers. The data over three years show CIRs compared to all positions, slightly outpacing other administrators in percent change. 


Data separated by Carnegie Classification indicate that while a similar result (though minimal) is present among Doctoral (Figure 3), Master’s (Figure 4), and Associate’s institutions (Figure 5), with the largest increases occurring at Doctoral universities, the opposite trend is occurring at Baccalaureate institutions (Figure 6), with increases in CIR median salary slightly behind other administrators. 


The Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey, formerly the Administrative Compensation Survey, collects salary data for 191 positions with primary assignments requiring management of the institution or of a customarily recognized division within it, such as executive and senior administrators, academic deans, institutional administrators, and department heads. All positions in the survey are matched to BLS Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes to facilitate completion of the new IPEDS reporting requirements. 

Visit the CUPA-HR website to read the Executive Summary, view select data, or order survey results.



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Total Comments: 13
Jessica posted on 5/15/2014 7:46 AM
This data is quite interesting. I know this is not of interest of CUPA, but I imagine salaries vary significantly as well based on scope of the office (involvedment or responsibility for assessment and/or accreditation) as well as if the IR Director is a cabinet member.
Bill posted on 5/15/2014 8:18 AM
I agree with Jessica. It would be interesting to see CUPA-HR add a category such as Chief Institutional Effectiveness Officer (with responsibility for assessment, accreditation, planning, program review, etc as well as IR). If they just add this title with no clarification of the difference with Chief IR, the results would be of little use. They will add new positions, but need several institutions pushing them to do so.

BIll Knight
Jeanne posted on 5/15/2014 8:58 AM
It is interesting that Chief IR officers make less money at Master's Universities than at Associate's institutions. I would be interested in more details about that, such as the responsibilities of the Chief IR at both - are they significantly different or the same?
Patrick posted on 5/15/2014 9:15 AM
Salaries undoubtedly vary with the geographical location, the type and size of the institution. I would be interested in seeing a more in-depth study of IR offices and compensation based on responsibilities and reporting lines. I know this has been a topic of discussion on a number of IR or IR-related listservs.
JJ posted on 5/15/2014 9:22 AM
Findings that are intuitively anomalous beg for further analysis. Earnings are driven by various factors such as qualifications (i.e., credentials), experience, responsibilities, but also supply and demand. It would be interesting to know if the higher salaries at associate degree institutions are due, and least to some extent, to the need to attract high quality candidates who are more likely to seek positions in graduate (hence master degree) degree institutions.
Danielle posted on 5/15/2014 9:37 AM
It would be nice to see AIR potentially do a survey of IR salaries that could be broken down by educational attainment, position, years in position, responsibilities of the office, etc. These data would be very useful.
Marlene posted on 5/15/2014 10:17 AM
If you are willing and able to pay for it, you can get access to Data on Demand for the CUPA surveys. It looks like you can cut the data various ways...for example, you can create a custom comparison group based on institutional budget, enrollment, affiliation, geographic location, etc. See:
Eric posted on 5/15/2014 10:27 AM
Thank you for sharing these data! As many have noted, I am also curious about seeing the results by institutional mission, size, complexity, etc. Looking at the higher pay for chief IR offcers at associate degree institutions, I wonder if that is because the chief IR officers tend to remain in their positions for longer times there than at baccalaureate institutions. Maybe there is higher turnover among IR staff at the bachelor's level institutions than at the two-year colleges, thus the difference in median salaries? I would also like to see comparisons on entering salaries. This is a very interesting report.
Tim posted on 5/15/2014 11:27 AM
Similar to Eric's comment, I would like to examine the relationships, if any, between salary and endowment, tuition and operating budgets. I'm thinking that salaries are largely impacted by available institutional resources and less by qualifications and responsibilities.
Sean posted on 5/15/2014 2:18 PM
This is a start, but reports like this only lead to additional questions, in order to sell the results. The cost of living in various parts of the country have something to do with salary differentials.
Gail posted on 5/15/2014 2:18 PM
I would like to know much more about the salaries than just the median value. Box plots would be more informative, allow us too see the spread and shape of the salary data.
Eric posted on 5/15/2014 5:08 PM
This is always interesting information! I know ALAIR presented results of a statewide study on IR salaries which included other characteristics like the ones you mentioned. I'd be interested in conducting a national survey. Would anyone else be interested in partnering to conduct such a study?
Jean posted on 5/19/2014 9:40 AM
Eric, I would be interested in partnering on a comprehensive national salary study for IR professionals. My email is Good information!