Best Salaries in Academia

Educators aren't exactly known for their fat paychecks. Still, earning a six-figure income in academia might be more common than you think.

Teachers have long been trying to collect better pay -- a struggle that's unlikely to end anytime soon. After adjusting for inflation, teachers' weekly wages rose just 0.8 percent between 1996 and 2003, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan think tank. Over the same period, other college graduates' pay jumped 11.8 percent.

Public school teachers now earn an average of $47,750 per year, the National Education Association (NEA) estimates.

Salaries are particularly low for new teachers. This year's college graduates were offered teaching salaries of about $31,400, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Summer 2006 salary survey.

The NEA would like to see a significant hike in these starting wages. "NEA supports a minimum salary of at least $40,000 for all teachers in our nation's public schools and at least a living wage for every education support professional," the company's Web site states.

Location matters

Until that happens, teachers wanting better salaries may want to consider moving. Public school teachers in Connecticut are the best-paid in the nation, earning an average salary of nearly $58,700 for the 2004-05 school year. The District of Columbia ($58,500), California ($57,900), Michigan ($57,000), New Jersey ($56,700) and New York ($56,200) also paid teachers salaries far above the national average.

South Dakota teachers, however, earned the lowest paychecks in the nation, with average salaries of just $34,000. North Dakota ($36,400), Mississippi ($36,600), Oklahoma ($37,900) and Alabama ($38,200) rounded out the bottom five.

Higher education, higher pay

Teaching at the college or university level -- especially in private institutions -- can mean bigger salary gains. For the 2003-04 school year, professors earned an average of $81,700, according to the NEA, and associate professors earned $60,000. But it's those who work their way up the university ranks who really rake in the cash.

Donald Ross, president of Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., was the highest-paid college president in the 2003-04 fiscal year, according to a November 2005 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Ross took home a compensation package that topped $5 million.

While seven-figure salaries aren't common, six-figure salaries for university administrators are. The 2006 College and University Professional Association for Human Resources Administrative Compensation Survey found 17 job titles with median salaries above $150,000.

If you're looking to earn some serious coinage in education, these jobs are your best bet:

1. Hospital Medical Center Administrator

Median pay: $350,000

2. Dean of Medicine

Median pay: $316,700

3. Dean of Dentistry

Median pay: $244,400

4. System CEO

Median pay: $243,000

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5. Dean of Public Health

Median pay: $231,500

6. Dean of Law

Median pay: $229,600

7. Chief Health Professional Officer

Median pay: $213,100

8. Single Unit CEO

Median pay: $192,200

9. Dean of Veterinary Medicine

Median pay: $186,600

10. Dean of Pharmacy

Median pay: $181,000

11. Chief Resident Officer

Median pay: $178,700

12. Associate/Assistant Dean of Medicine

Median pay: $177,900

13. Dean of Engineering

Median pay: $173,300

14. Dean of Public Affairs

Median pay: $164,100

15. Dean of Agriculture

Median pay: $160,000

16. Dean of Architecture

Median pay: $158,000

17. Associate/Assistant Dean of Dentistry

Copyright 2006

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