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Excuse Me, Professor, How Much Do You Earn?

We answer a question about the salaries of American professors. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Today we answer a question from a listener who wants to become a Spanish professor. Orlando Carvajal asks how much professors earn in the United States.

We looked in the almanac published by the Chronicle of Higher Education. It shows that the average salary for full professors last year was ninety-nine thousand dollars. For associate professors it was seventy thousand. And for assistant professors it was fifty-nine thousand dollars.

Private, independent schools pay more than public colleges and universities. But how do professors compare with other professions? For that we turn to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Assistant professors earned about the same last year as workers in business and financial operations. But they earned about ten thousand dollars less than computer programmers, for example.

The highest paying group of jobs in the United States is in management. The average wage last year was ninety-two thousand dollars. Next came lawyers and other legal workers, at eighty-five thousand.

Orlando also asks about benefits, things like health insurance and retirement plans. Benefits differ from school to school just as salaries do.

The Chronicle Almanac shows that new assistant professors in foreign language earned forty-eight thousand dollars last year. That was a little more than the national average for all education jobs. But averages do not tell the whole story.

Sally Hadden is an associate professor of history and law at Florida State University in Tallahassee. She notes that language professors generally earn less than those in subjects like engineering, for example.

But these days, professors of some languages, including Arabic, can earn much more than Spanish professors. Universities are competing for them with government and industry.

Professor Hadden also notes that colleges in different areas of the country pay different salaries. Some states have strong unions that have negotiated set increases in salaries for professors.

And different schools value different skills in their professors. Community and liberal arts colleges generally value good teaching skills more than big research universities do.

Salaries can also be tied to something else -- tenure. More about that next week.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. Our reports are online with transcripts and MP3 files at I'm Steve Ember.