16 Highest Paying Jobs in Higher Education

By | February 5, 2024

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for workers in higher education is $62,460. That’s not a bad wage for being with your nose in books and papers all day. However, that figure doesn’t take into account the financial value of a college degree.

Many jobs in higher education offer excellent benefits and financial security. These positions also tend to have higher average salaries than other positions in higher education. The highest paying jobs in higher education require specialized knowledge and require a high degree of proficiency in a specific field.

These positions often offer excellent job security and compensation. The job market for college graduates is always changing, so below is a list of the highest paying jobs in higher education, as well as the estimated salary range for a college graduate in each field.


Higher education is a huge part of our current culture and future. It’s also a high-paying job field. If you’re interested in earning a lucrative salary and having a rewarding career, then higher education may be the right fit for you.
What makes higher education so lucrative? Higher education offers a stable career with benefits and perks.

This includes high wages, extensive training, and flexible scheduling. Higher education jobs also offer the potential to advance in the field and earn a high salary as your career progresses. The salary you earn will depend on the job, your location, and your experience.

In this article, we’ll explore the highest paying jobs in higher education. We’ll explore the salary, working hours, and benefits of each job as well as the employment outlook for each field.


1. College librarian

National average salary: $65,120 per year

Primary duties: Librarians assist scholars in finding information from digital and print resources. Librarians working in a postsecondary institution may also organize collections and purchase items to add to the library.

They help students perform research through periodicals and journals, using their expertise in finding and organizing critical information. Roles in postsecondary institutions can include specialized positions, such as research librarians.

2. Academic dean

National average salary: $82,876 per year

Primary duties: Academic deans oversee the faculty and academic functions of a college or university. Deans may be responsible for a specific department or group of degree programs or in smaller institutions, they may supervise the entire academic staff and all programs.

They serve in both a scholarly and administrative role, providing support and insight for research projects, educational strategies and student or faculty needs.

3. Director of education

National average salary: $85,322 per year

Primary duties: A director of education at a college or university determines and manages the educational strategies used by faculty at an academic institution.

They may be involved in developing curriculum academic tracks for degree programs. Education directors are also involved in designing and overseeing certification courses that may not constitute a full degree.

4. Business professor

National average salary: $88,010 per year

Primary duties: Business professors instruct students in current business and marketing practices. They teach a variety of content, including management and administration, sales techniques and accounting.

Business professors may also instruct classes about becoming an entrepreneur to help graduates start their own businesses or teach about investing in startup companies and existing businesses. They sometimes offer to mentor students wanting to pursue a career as an entrepreneur.

5. Physics professor

National average salary: $90,400 per year

Primary duties: A physics professor teaches students the complex foundations of scientific principles and the relationships between elements of matter.

They often conduct their own research at the academic institution where they instruct and may include students in certain parts of the research process. Physics professors sometimes earn a doctorate in their field to gain the knowledge necessary to instruct others and perform experimental research to further their discipline.

6. Architecture professor

National average salary: $90,880 per year

Primary duties: Architecture professors instruct students in the design of structures and areas. A professor of architecture may also teach specialized subject areas within the discipline, including environmental and landscape architecture.

They may also instruct students in interior design coursework. These professionals often establish relationships with local architecture firms to provide students with internship and mentorship opportunities.

7. Human resources director

National average salary: $91,500 per year

Primary duties: A human resources director manages the daily operations of an HR department at a college or university. They set procedures for hiring new employees, onboarding and staff training for all team members.

They supervise employee payroll and benefits, coordinating with insurance companies to schedule enrollment and set yearly plans. They’re responsible for employee discipline procedures and may help settle any disputes between staff members. A human resources director also ensures the organization complies with all regulations regarding employees in the workplace.

8. Controller

National average salary: $96,601 per year

Primary duties: A controller working in higher education is responsible for the financial state of an academic institution. They develop and supervise budgets to reflect the current fiscal health of the organization. Controllers also strategize plans for future growth, reflecting on financial analysis reports.

They collaborate with other leaders at the organization, sharing their insight and using their expertise to advise board members and administrative officers on how to expand their financial opportunities and mitigate loss. They may also supervise members of the accounting department.

9. Postsecondary education administrator

National average salary: $97,500 per year

Primary duties: Postsecondary education administrators fill a variety of roles within an academic organization. Depending on the size of the facility, they may manage the administrative tasks of an entire student population or facilitate a specific department.

These administrative professionals may oversee the functions of programs like athletics, alumni relations or student admissions. Acting as leaders, they manage teams and provide support for other academic managers.

10. Health specialties professor

National average salary: $99,090 per year

Primary duties: A health specialties professor teaches courses in a specific medical discipline based on their educational background and experience. This includes areas like physical therapy, dentistry, pharmaceutical studies and public health.

Professors in this area pursue current industry knowledge through their own research, often choosing to teach after their own career in a health discipline.

11. Training and development manager

National average salary: $102,930 per year

Primary duties: Training and development managers are responsible for the continuing education and training of all staff members within an organization. This may include designing modules to train employees on new standards and procedures based on the needs of the academic institution.

They also help determine when training is necessary for current or new employees. Training and development managers may complete administrative tasks like setting the budget for their department and training plans or creating reports based on assessments.

12. Engineering professor

National average salary: $103,600 per year

Primary duties: An engineering professor instructs students in engineering principles and techniques related to a particular discipline. Professors specialize in areas like aerospace, mechanical and civil engineering.

These professionals use a strong background in mathematics, teaching complex formulas to guide students in the design and creation of projects. They may facilitate guided projects or help students test prototypes to apply their studies.

13. Chief academic officer

National average salary: $105,675 per year

Primary duties: The chief academic officer of a college or university reports directly to the president of an academic institution as the second in command over the entire student body and faculty.

They oversee the development of educational programs and student life. A chief academic officer also helps create strategies for academic programming. They also supervise administrative and academic staff.

14. Economics professor

National average salary: $107,260 per year

Primary duties: Economics professors teach students about the financial markets and economic histories of global and regional economies. They offer courses on financial strategies and theoretical concepts.

An economics professor may also contribute articles related to the economic affairs of a particular country or make predictions about the financial state of the world based on their research and knowledge of economic trends.

15. University president

National average salary: $113,007 per year

Primary duties: The president of a college or university oversees all functions of an academic institution, ensuring they meet all obligations for federal and state law. They make decisions regarding faculty, students and other professionals working on campus.

They build relationships with donors and policymakers. Presidents of postsecondary institutions guide the direction of educational programs and student services. They also manage all major financial decisions related to the college or university.

16. Law professor

National average salary: $116,430 per year

Primary duties: A law professor teaches students seeking their Juris Doctor degree at a law school. They may teach a variety of courses, including general law studies and specialized areas like criminal law, torts or family law.

These professionals also complete their own case studies, publishing scholarly articles in law journals or creating textbooks for instruction. A law professor also contributes to scholarly organizations and educational foundations that regulate the education and licensing of legal professionals.


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