2018 AIR National Survey of IR Offices: Topic Briefs

IR Office Staff Salaries

This brief is one of a series of reports. Learn more at airweb.org/nationalsurvey.

Transformation of data into informed decisions requires a financial investment (or commitment) by the institution. Hardware, software, and other resources are essential to the work of institutional research (IR). Yet the tools and technology are inadequate without a corresponding investment in people. Salaries play critical roles in recruiting and retaining highly skilled staff. In the 2018 AIR National Survey of IR Offices, we asked leaders to describe and evaluate staff salaries.

Annual Salaries

The 2018 National Survey asked office leaders to report annual staff salaries.1 Chart 1 shows the average salary for each staff role. Salaries range from approximately $96,000 for office leaders to approximately $19,000 for student staff. Benefits and bonuses add approximately $20,000, depending on role.

Chart 1. Average IR Salaries by Staff Role

Comparing Salaries Across U.S. Census Regions and Sectors

Using regions defined by the U.S. Census Bureau,2 we calculated the average salary for each staff role. Salaries vary greatly across the country (Table 1). People at institutions on the east and west coasts typically earn more than those living in midwestern and southern states. Average office leaders’ annual salaries range from a high of approximately $112,000 in the Northeast to a low of approximately $84,000 in the Midwest.

Differences in average salary in IR office staff roles reflect a similar pattern (Table 1).

Table 1. Average IR Salaries by Staff Roles by U.S. Census Region
Staff Role
(n = 115)
(n = 95)
(n = 175)
(n = 158)
Office Leader$ 96,151 $ 111,703 $ 106,962 $ 91,450 $ 83,883
Associate/Assistant Directors$ 79,478 $ 84,428 $ 92,564 $ 73,729 $ 75,436
Analytical Staff$ 60,952 $ 66,476 $ 62,345 $ 56,435 $ 60,883
Technical Staff$ 65,445 $ 60,538 $ 69,679 $ 65,732 $ 63,832
Administrative Support Staff$ 46,941 $ 48,526 $ 46,593 $ 43,813 $ 51,683
Student Staff$ 19,036 $ 22,806 $ 27,206 $ 15,842 $ 14,241

Average salary also varied by major institutional sector:3 public 4-year, public 2-year, and private not-for-profit 4-year. Office leaders at public 4-year institutions earn approximately $112,000 on average compared to $85,000 at public 2-year institutions and $91,000 at private not-for profit 4-year institutions (Table 2).

Table 2. Average IR Salaries by Staff Roles by Sector
Staff Role

(n = 164)
(n = 125)
Private NFP
(n = 254)
Office Leader$ 96,151$ 111,661$ 85,031$ 91,044
Associate/Assistant Directors$ 79,478$ 84,260$ 73,364$ 74,560
Analytical Staff$ 60,952$ 61,018$ 60,453$ 61,190
Technical Staff$ 65,445$ 65,492$ 60,104$ 70,682
Administrative Support Staff$ 46,941$ 42,720$ 54,470$ 46,398
Student Staff$ 19,036$ 19,718$ 16,209$ 15,935

Evaluation of Staff Salaries by Office Leader

We asked office leaders to indicate their agreement with the statement, “Office staff are paid competitive salaries.” Across all institutions, just under half of IR office leaders feel that salaries are competitive. Although the pattern of responses is similar for IR office leaders at public 2-year and private not-for-profit 4-year institutions, a majority of those at public 4-year institutions feel that staff salaries are competitive (Chart 2).

Chart 2. Evaluation of IR Staff Salaries/Wages by Sector


The 2018 AIR National Survey of IR Offices attempted to survey IR office leaders at more than 3,000 postsecondary degree-granting institutions. Institutions of all sectors, types of control, and sizes were included in the sample. In total, responses represented 1,167 institutions, and 566 of those institutions completed the survey in full. To ensure comparable results, incomplete responses are excluded from this report. In addition, responses from for-profit institutions, administrative units, international institutions, private not-for-profit 2-year institutions, and institutions in U.S. territories are excluded due to low response rates.

This Report

The findings presented in this report are based on 543 responses that represent U.S. postsecondary, degree-granting institutions at public 4-year, public 2-year, or private not-for-profit 4-year institutions.

  1. This information was not collected in the 2015 AIR National Survey of IR Offices.
  2. https://www2.census.gov/geo/pdfs/maps-data/maps/reference/us_regdiv.pdf
  3. See methodology section at end of this report for more information.