Income gap developing between campus IT professionals

Chief information officers on college campuses saw their annual income increase 1.4 times more than the lowest paid IT staffers last year, expanding an already large income gap in college IT offices.

There exists a wide income gap among CIOs.

Those findings and others were detailed in a report released Oct. 16 at the EDUCAUSE 2013 conference in Anaheim, Calif., where campus technologists gathered to discuss the latest trends, problems, and solutions in educational technology.

The report, “IT Salaries in Higher Education,” shows a growing and persistent income gap between those who call the shots in campus IT, and support staff who have seen incomes stagnate in recent years.

There’s even an expanding gap among CIOs, with the country’s highest paid CIOs making $500,000 more than the lowest paid chief campus technologists.

Overall IT salaries in higher education increase by 2 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the EDUCAUSE report, failing to keep up with the rate of inflation.

This mimics overall higher education salary increases, which did not keep up with inflation.

The report, penned by Susan Grajek of the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, warned college and university IT heads to keep a close watch on the distribution of dollars, even during difficult economic times that have hurt many campus budgets.

See page 2 for suggestions on how IT officials can address the income gap…

“IT leaders should pay attention to patterns in their staff salary increases and manage those patterns carefully,” Grajek wrote, adding that CIOs should work closely with campus HR departments to monitor and manage IT salary increases. “They should question whether dollar increases are equitable across all ranges of incomes.”

The EDUCAUSE report comes as many in campus IT have warned of a coming CIO shortage.

Nationwide research conducted by Wayne Brown, vice president of IT at Excelsior College, an online school, and executive director of CTL, shows that nearly half of college CIOs plan to retire in the next 10 years, and many campus technology staff who want that top role aren’t sure how to get there.

Nearly seven in 10 technology employees who are considered CIO candidates want to pursue their campus’s top technology position, but 38 percent of them said they had no one to help them reach those lofty career goals, according to Brown’s research.

Aspiring CIOs also might need to work toward an advanced degree, because 77 percent of current CIO respondents said they have a master’s degree or higher.

Many potential CIO candidates said they weren’t interested in the CIO position, because it involved too much management and not enough interaction with the campus’s computer infrastructure.