Press Release

May 15, 2019

New CUPA-HR Report Reveals the Higher Education Professionals Most Likely to Be Affected by DOL’s Proposed Overtime Rule Changes

The professional positions most likely to be impacted by the Department of Labor (DOL)’s proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)’s overtime rule include student admissions counselors, student residence hall managers, childcare center teachers, and assistant baseball coaches. According to the 2019 CUPA-HR Professionals in Higher Education Annual Report released today, these positions have the highest number of exempt employees who are currently paid below the proposed salary threshold of $35,308.*

Of all higher education exempt professionals, 96 percent are currently paid at or above the proposed exemption threshold. This means that only 4 percent of exempt professionals would need to be re-evaluated for possible exempt-status changes or salary increases if the proposed rule were to take effect. Areas with a relatively high percentage of exempt employees below the threshold include athletic affairs (12 percent) and student affairs (7 percent).

Other findings from the 2019 CUPA-HR Professionals in Higher Education Annual Report include:

  • The median salary increase for higher ed professionals over the past year was 2.17 percent, which is the same as last year and slightly below the rate of inflation. The median salary increase was highest at doctoral institutions (2.61 percent). Median increases were below 2.00 percent for all other types of institutions.
  • Professionals in the area of health science and environmental sustainability make the highest salaries (median $94k). Within that area, staff physicians are the highest paid professionals (median $169k).
  • The highest percentage of professionals (15 percent) work in the area of student affairs, followed by information technology (14 percent) and academic affairs (13 percent).
  • The fastest growing professional positions are head of IT information management (+63 percent) and senior planned giving officer (+53 percent).
  • Nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of professionals are women, and nearly one-quarter (23 percent) are racial/ethnic minorities. Women are best represented in the area of health science and environmental sustainability and least represented in information technology. Racial/ethnic minorities are best represented in the area of research and least represented in external affairs.
  • Pay equity for women and minorities varies greatly with professional area. Women are paid less than men in every area. The greatest pay gap is in the area of health science and environmental sustainability, where women are paid only $0.88 on the dollar paid to their male counterparts. Professionals of color have large pay gaps in facilities and information technology positions. In contrast, Asian professionals are paid more than other racial/ethnic groups, including White professionals, in nearly every area, most notably in health science and environmental sustainability.

A total of 1,131 higher education institutions provided incumbent-level data for over 240,000 professionals in 387 positions for this year’s survey. The survey collects data on salaries and demographics for each individual incumbent, allowing for more in-depth analysis and comprehensive benchmarking. Data collected include salary, sex, race/ethnicity, and years in position. In addition, this is the third year the survey has collected exempt/non-exempt status for each professional incumbent, allowing institutions to benchmark exempt status prevalence and salaries for each professional position.

To learn more about the Professionals in Higher Education Survey, read the overview. Salaries, demographic comparisons and detailed trend information are available in the full report.

* Read more about the history and details of DOL’s proposed changes to the FLSA overtime rule.


CUPA-HR is the recognized authority on compensation surveys for higher education, with its salary surveys designed by higher ed HR professionals for higher ed HR professionals and other campus leaders. This marks CUPA-HR’s 22nd year of data collection on higher education professionals. Learn more about CUPA-HR research.

CUPA-HR is higher ed HR. We serve higher education by providing the knowledge, resources, advocacy and connections to achieve organizational and workforce excellence. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and serving over 31,000 HR professionals and other campus leaders at more than 2,000 member institutions and organizations around the country and abroad, the association offers learning and professional development programs, higher education salary and benefits data, extensive online resources and just-in-time regulatory and legislative information.

Contact Information
Erin Rosolina
Marketing Manager – Communications and Marketing


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