How Secure is Your Job in Higher Education?

How Secure is Your Job in Higher Education?

  • mardi, der 1. avril 2014
  • 7,580

Stressed employeeWorking at an institution of higher education has many advantages, including excellent benefits, and a vibrant, like-minded community.

However, as with any job, if you are thinking of a career at a college or university, it’s important to take a look at how secure your job will be over time. In order to do this you need to factor in demographics, technological changes, and in the case of public institutions, government funding.

Academic jobs do tend to be quite secure. It is a career that people stay with for the long term. The more seniority you have, the more you are guaranteed a place somewhere in the institution, even during lean times, but keep in mind, education in general is going through some rapid changes, and you must be aware of the upcoming trends.

Staff jobs are also a fairly safe bet, since in tough economic times people do tend to go back to school either to retrain or for further education.

Here are some factors to consider when assessing how secure your job is:

1)      Job security is reliant on the size of your institution, and the skills and expertise you bring to the job. The broader your focus or skill base the more versatile you can be. Bigger institutions really do have more of a cushion if downsizing is required.

2)      Student enrollment drives everything. If your job is with a department which requires you to have very specific knowledge, for example, horticulture, and the student enrollment isn’t there, the program will be cancelled. It will be difficult to make a transition to another department if your skills all revolve around horticulture.

3)      Funding: It seems to be a sign of the times that educational institutions at all levels are increasingly concerned about funding. In higher education, tuition fees can only be increased so much before becoming unaffordable for students. At the same time, governments are asking institutions to find ways to save money. That means the cutting of non-productive programs, and employees who have the lowest seniority.

What you can do to help preserve your job:

1)      The number one thing you can do is to become knowledgeable about what is going on at the institution in general. What direction is it heading? What is it most known for, and are those programs still popular? Is enrollment increasing or decreasing? What areas are hardest hit by decreases in enrollment? Have you heard of any plans to restructure or centralize any areas of the institution?

2)      Analyze your skills and ask yourself; if your job were to disappear tomorrow, where else would your skills fit in the institution? Do you require any upgrading of knowledge? If so, be proactive and do it now.

3)      Stay abreast of the evolution of technology: We have seen some phenomenal advances in technology over the last few years. It’s important to be aware of the impact of technology as it continues to change our world. Don’t get left behind.

And finally, e-learning, the new frontier; the biggest change to education as we know it will be e-learning. Already we are seeing the development of software designed to give learners an experiential, interactive education online. No one knows for sure what the impact of this approach to education will have on traditional education but it is a very important trend to watch.

Your career is yours to manage; you are solely responsible for your own success. Working in education may provide you with an exciting employment opportunity, and you have to be smart in your career management to fully succeed.


Erin Bailo, Career Advisor.

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