New HR Reporting Categories for IPEDS Data

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The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is a vital data source for conducting institutional, peer, and national analyses. As of 2012-2013, IPEDS Human Resources occupational categories align with the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. The SOC is designed to reflect the current occupational structure of the United States and is used by federal statistical agencies to classify workers and jobs into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, analyzing, or disseminating data.

A recent survey of AIR members explored awareness and knowledge of the new IPEDS HR categories. Forty-four percent of survey respondents reported that they are involved in their institutions’ conversions to the new IPEDS HR occupational categories, and 28% reported they are unaware of the new HR categories.

Institutions appear to be at various stages of the conversion process, which involves recoding employees from the old IPEDS HR categories to align with the new SOC guidelines. Employees were previously assigned to categories based on primary functions, such as service/maintenance, technical and paraprofessional, and clerical and secretarial, to name a few. Occupations in the SOC are classified based on work performed and, in some cases, on the skills, education, and/or training needed to perform the work at a competent level. For example, employees previously classified as service/maintenance are now classified according to the work they perform, and may be included under service; natural resources, construction, and maintenance; or  production, transportation, and material moving occupations.

One quarter of respondents indicated that their institutions have completed updating their HR categories, while 34% will complete updates by the end of the calendar year. Other responses indicated that institutions will complete the conversion process in time to submit IPEDS data, and some respondents are unsure of their institutions’ timelines. In addition, institutions are using a variety of methods to update HR data, including developing or modifying existing software and using software provided by external vendors.

Finally, 89% of survey respondents indicated that their institutions’ IR and HR offices are working together to update the HR categories, with 68% reporting that HR has primary responsibility. Visit the Surveys section of eAIR to view results in their entirety.

More information about the new IPEDS HR categories is available on the AIR website and the IPEDS SOC resource page.

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Total Comments: 6
Randy posted on 11/15/2012 10:51 AM
Like other AIR studies conducted for eAIR, we see that it is very difficult for all IR offices to stay up to date about changes in reporting requirements. That is no surprise given the demand on IR offices these days. But I think there is a more important reminder in these data. Repeatedly we find that IR offices are collaborating with other campus offices on significant tasks like this one. The lesson for search committees looking for new IR Directors is that skills involving collaborating, trust-building, leadership, time-management are very important in the work of IR.

Thanks to the AIR members who consulted and advised on this effort. And to the AIR staff who conducted the study.
Braden posted on 11/15/2012 1:49 PM
It was helpful for AIR to conduct this survey and share results -- thanks!

Among the Connnecticut State Colleges and Universities, we are coordinating SOC code assignment centrally for all 17 institutions with consultation back to IR and HR offices at the campus level. The crosswalk resource generated by CUPA-HR has been quite helpful in these efforts to guide how employees are assigned SOC codes. This is online at
Robin posted on 11/19/2012 9:35 AM
Thanks for sharing these results! I had expected a lot more buzz on the various IR discussion lists about this change, but the finding that the HR offices have primary responsibility at many respondents' institutions helps explain that.

A small team (HR, IR, ITS, Business Office) worked together at my college to accomplish the recoding. It was a daunting task, but I think the new coding structure will be more useful going forward, both in reflecting our own employment patterns and also in making peer comparisons.

Also, thank you to CUPA for making their position coding available, and to NCES for providing links on the IPEDS SOC resource page ( Judgments are still needed (we didn't always come to the same conclusions for our positions), but this provides a very helpful point of comparison.
Eileen posted on 11/20/2012 12:03 PM
This type of study highlights how integrated into the institution IR staff must be. We really can't work in isolation. In working with HR staff to figure out how to code staff and collect the data, I gained a lot of insight into the nuances they see in titles and codes, and learned about some of the other reporting they do.
Kristina posted on 11/20/2012 11:58 PM
The HR survey opens December 5th (along with all of the other remaining surveys). The HR survey has been moved to the spring collection to give institutions more time to discuss and prepare for the changes in IPEDS HR. Thanks to the AIR staff that conducted this survey -- this is very valuable information to share within our institutions in discussions. The NCES resources on this topic are very helpful as a "one-stop" source on this very important topic.
Donna posted on 11/27/2012 4:54 PM
Thanks to AIR for conducting this survey and giving us the opportunity to learn from other institutions as we all move forward with the changes in HR Reporting. The ipeds-listserv has also been a great resource for sharing information on SOC codes, and has helped to open discussions about placing employees in the appropriate categories.
Systems with multiple institutions can face additional challenges. Planning the data collection and working within the new coding structure provides an opportunity to develop common definitions for categorizing employees across colleges. These improvements enhance not only internal reporting, but also when doing comparisons with our peers and using the IPEDS data for Benchmarking.