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Summary

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Quick Facts: Postsecondary Teachers
2018 Median Pay $78,470 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2018 1,350,700
Job Outlook, 2018-28 11% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2018-28 155,000

What Postsecondary Teachers Do

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level.

Work Environment

Most postsecondary teachers work in public and private colleges and universities, professional schools, and junior or community colleges. Outside of class time, their schedules are generally flexible, and they may spend that time in administrative duties, advising students, and conducting research.

How to Become a Postsecondary Teacher

Educational requirements vary by subject and the type of educational institution. Typically, postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges, and others may need work experience in their field of expertise.

Pay

The median annual wage for postsecondary teachers was $78,470 in May 2018.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of postsecondary teachers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Enrollment at postsecondary institutions is expected to continue to rise. The majority of employment growth is likely to be in part-time positions.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for postsecondary teachers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of postsecondary teachers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about postsecondary teachers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Postsecondary Teachers Do About this section

Postsecondary teachers
Professors may teach a wide variety of subjects, such as history, science, business, or music.

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and career and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

Duties

Postsecondary teachers typically do the following:

  • Teach courses in their subject area
  • Work with students who are taking classes to improve their knowledge or career skills
  • Develop an instructional plan (known as a course outline or syllabus) for the course(s) they teach and ensure that it meets college and department standards
  • Plan lessons and assignments
  • Work with colleagues to develop or modify the curriculum for a degree or certificate program involving a series of courses
  • Assess students’ progress by grading assignments, papers, exams, and other work
  • Advise students about which classes to take and how to achieve their goals
  • Stay informed about changes and innovations in their field

Postsecondary teachers, often referred to as professors or faculty, specialize in a variety of subjects and fields. At colleges and universities, professors are organized into departments that specialize in a degree field, such as history, science, business, or music. A professor may teach one or more courses within that department. For example, a mathematics professor may teach calculus, statistics, and a graduate seminar in a very specific area of mathematics.

Postsecondary teachers’ duties vary with their positions in a university or college. In large colleges or universities, they may spend their time teaching, conducting research or experiments, publishing original research, applying for grants to fund their research, or supervising graduate teaching assistants who are teaching classes.

Postsecondary teachers who work in small colleges and universities or in community colleges often spend more time teaching classes and working with students. They may spend some time conducting research, but they do not have as much time to devote to it.

Full-time professors, particularly those who have tenure (a professor who cannot be fired without just cause), often are expected to spend more time on their research. They also may be expected to serve on more college and university committees.

Part-time professors, often known as adjunct professors, spend most of their time teaching students.

Professors may teach large classes of several hundred students (often with the help of graduate teaching assistants), smaller classes of about 40 to 50 students, seminars with just a few students, or laboratories where students practice the subject matter. They work with an increasingly varied student population as more part-time, older, and culturally diverse students are going to postsecondary schools.

Professors read scholarly articles, talk with colleagues, and participate in professional conferences to keep up with developments in their field. A tenured professor must do original research, document their analyses or critical reviews, and publish their findings.

Some postsecondary teachers work for online universities or teach online classes. They use the Internet to present lessons and information, to assign and accept students’ work, and to participate in course discussions. Online professors use email, phone, and video chat apps to communicate with students, and might never meet their students in person.

Work Environment About this section

Postsecondary teachers
Most classes are held during the day, but some are held on nights and weekends.

Postsecondary teachers held about 1.4 million jobs in 2018. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up postsecondary teachers was distributed as follows:

Health specialties teachers, postsecondary 254,800
Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary 118,900
Business teachers, postsecondary 108,000
English language and literature teachers, postsecondary 83,000
Education teachers, postsecondary 78,600
Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary 69,000
Biological science teachers, postsecondary 64,500
Mathematical science teachers, postsecondary 61,100
Psychology teachers, postsecondary 47,900
Engineering teachers, postsecondary 47,500
Computer science teachers, postsecondary 40,200
Communications teachers, postsecondary 35,800
Foreign language and literature teachers, postsecondary 31,900
Philosophy and religion teachers, postsecondary 31,700
Chemistry teachers, postsecondary 26,700
History teachers, postsecondary 25,800
Law teachers, postsecondary 23,100
Social sciences teachers, postsecondary, all other 20,400
Political science teachers, postsecondary 20,300
Criminal justice and law enforcement teachers, postsecondary 18,100
Sociology teachers, postsecondary 17,400
Physics teachers, postsecondary 17,300
Economics teachers, postsecondary 16,400
Social work teachers, postsecondary 16,100
Atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences teachers, postsecondary 13,400
Agricultural sciences teachers, postsecondary 13,300
Area, ethnic, and cultural studies teachers, postsecondary 12,600
Architecture teachers, postsecondary 8,900
Environmental science teachers, postsecondary 7,600
Anthropology and archeology teachers, postsecondary 7,300
Library science teachers, postsecondary 5,700
Geography teachers, postsecondary 4,800
Forestry and conservation science teachers, postsecondary 2,600

The largest employers of postsecondary teachers were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; private 40%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 37
Junior colleges; local 10
Junior colleges; state 7

Many postsecondary teachers find their jobs rewarding because they are surrounded by others who enjoy the subject they teach. The opportunity to share their expertise with others is appealing to many.

However, some postsecondary teachers must find a balance between teaching students and doing research and publishing their findings. This can be stressful, especially for beginning teachers seeking advancement in 4-year research universities. At the community college level, professors focus mainly on teaching students and administrative duties.

Classes are generally held during the day, although some are offered in the evenings and weekends to accommodate students who have jobs or family obligations.

Although some postsecondary teachers teach summer courses, many use that time to conduct research, involve themselves in professional development, or to travel.

Work Schedules

Many postsecondary teachers teach part time, and may teach courses at several colleges or universities. Some may have a full-time job in their field of expertise in addition to a part-time teaching position. For example, an active lawyer or judge might teach a law school class during the evening.

Postsecondary teachers’ schedules generally are flexible. Full-time teachers need to be on campus to teach classes and have office hours. Otherwise, they are free to set their schedule to prepare for classes and grade assignments. They may also spend time carrying out administrative responsibilities, such as serving on committees.

How to Become a Postsecondary Teacher About this section

Postsecondary teachers
Some institutions prefer to hire professors who have teaching experience, which can be gained by working as a graduate teaching assistant.

Educational requirements vary with the subject taught and the type of educational institution. Typically postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges. Other postsecondary teachers may need work experience in their field of expertise.

Education

Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities typically need a doctoral degree in their field. Some schools may hire those with a master’s degree or those who are doctoral degree candidates for some specialties, such as fine arts, or for some part-time positions.

Doctoral programs generally take multiple years to complete, and students must already possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree before enrolling in a doctoral program. Doctoral students spend time writing a doctoral dissertation, which is a paper presenting original research in the student’s field of study. Candidates usually specialize in a subfield, such as organic chemistry or European history.

Community colleges or career and technical schools also may hire those with a master’s degree. However, some fields have more applicants than available positions. In these situations, institutions can be more selective, and they frequently choose applicants who have a Ph.D. over those with a master’s degree.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some institutions may prefer to hire those with teaching or other work experience, but this is not a requirement for all fields or for all employers.

In health specialties, art, law, or education fields, hands-on work experience in the industry can be important. Postsecondary teachers in these fields often gain experience by working in an occupation related to their field of expertise.

In fields such as biological science, physics, and chemistry, some postsecondary teachers have postdoctoral research experience. These short-term jobs, sometimes called “post-docs,” usually involve working for 2 to 3 years as a research associate or in a similar position, often at a college or university.

Some postsecondary teachers gain teaching experience by working as graduate teaching assistants—students who are enrolled in a graduate program and teach classes in the institution in which they are enrolled.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Postsecondary teachers who prepare students for an occupation that requires a license, certification, or registration, may need to have—or they may benefit from having—the same credential. For example, a postsecondary nursing teacher might need a nursing license or a postsecondary education teacher might need a teaching license.

Advancement

A major goal for postsecondary teachers with a doctoral degree is attaining a tenure—a guarantee that a professor cannot be fired without just cause. It can take up to 7 years of moving up the ranks in tenure-track positions. The ranks are assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. Tenure is granted through a review of the candidate’s research, contribution to the institution, and teaching.

Tenure and tenure-track positions are declining as institutions are relying more heavily on part-time professors.

Some tenured professors advance to administrative positions, such as dean or president. For information on deans and other administrative positions, see the profile on postsecondary education administrators. For more information about college and university presidents, see the profile on top executives.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. To challenge established theories and beliefs, conduct original research, and design experiments, postsecondary teachers need to apply analyses and logic to arrive at sound conclusions.

Interpersonal skills. Most postsecondary teachers need to be able to work well with others and must have good communication skills to serve on committees and give lectures.

Resourcefulness. Postsecondary teachers need to be able to present information in a way that students will understand. They need to adapt to the different learning styles of their students and teach students who have little or no experience with the subject.

Speaking skills. Postsecondary teachers need good verbal skills to give lectures.

Writing skills. Postsecondary teachers need to be skilled writers to publish original research and analysis.

Pay About this section

Postsecondary Teachers

Median annual wages, May 2018

Postsecondary teachers

$78,470

Education, training, and library occupations

$49,700

Total, all occupations

$38,640

 

The median annual wage for postsecondary teachers was $78,470 in May 2018. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $175,110.

Median annual wages for postsecondary teachers in May 2018 were as follows:

Law teachers, postsecondary $111,140
Engineering teachers, postsecondary 101,720
Economics teachers, postsecondary 101,480
Health specialties teachers, postsecondary 97,370
Atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences teachers, postsecondary 90,860
Physics teachers, postsecondary 90,800
Architecture teachers, postsecondary 86,980
Forestry and conservation science teachers, postsecondary 86,900
Agricultural sciences teachers, postsecondary 84,640
Business teachers, postsecondary 83,960
Anthropology and archeology teachers, postsecondary 83,940
Political science teachers, postsecondary 83,370
Biological science teachers, postsecondary 82,550
Computer science teachers, postsecondary 82,220
Geography teachers, postsecondary 80,350
Environmental science teachers, postsecondary 79,910
Chemistry teachers, postsecondary 79,550
Psychology teachers, postsecondary 76,710
History teachers, postsecondary 74,590
Area, ethnic, and cultural studies teachers, postsecondary 74,440
Sociology teachers, postsecondary 74,140
Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary 73,490
Mathematical science teachers, postsecondary 73,230
Philosophy and religion teachers, postsecondary 71,890
Social sciences teachers, postsecondary, all other 71,600
Library science teachers, postsecondary 71,560
Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary 69,960
Communications teachers, postsecondary 68,910
Social work teachers, postsecondary 68,300
Foreign language and literature teachers, postsecondary 67,640
English language and literature teachers, postsecondary 66,590
Education teachers, postsecondary 64,780
Criminal justice and law enforcement teachers, postsecondary 61,900

In May 2018, the median annual wages for postsecondary teachers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Junior colleges; local $83,530
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 81,120
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; private 78,540
Junior colleges; state 56,930

Wages can vary by institution type. Postsecondary teachers typically have higher wages in colleges, universities, and professional schools than they do in community colleges or other types of schools.

Many postsecondary teachers work part time. They may work part time at several colleges or universities, or have a full-time job in their field of expertise in addition to a part-time teaching position.

Postsecondary teachers’ schedules generally are flexible. Full-time teachers need to be on campus to teach classes and have office hours. Otherwise, they are free to set their schedule to prepare for classes and grade assignments. They may also spend time carrying out administrative responsibilities, such as serving on committees.

Job Outlook About this section

Postsecondary Teachers

Percent change in employment, projected 2018-28

Postsecondary teachers

11%

Education, training, and library occupations

5%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

Overall employment of postsecondary teachers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Both part-time and full-time postsecondary teachers are included in this projection.

The number of people attending postsecondary institutions is expected to grow in the next decade. Students will continue to seek higher education to gain the additional education and skills necessary to meet their career goals. As more people enter colleges and universities, more postsecondary teachers will be needed to serve these additional students. Colleges and universities are likely to hire more part-time teachers to meet this demand. In all disciplines, there is expected to be a limited number of full-time nontenure and full-time tenure positions.

However, despite expected increases in enrollment, employment growth in public colleges and universities will depend on state and local government budgets. If budgets for higher education are reduced, employment growth may be limited.

Overall employment of postsecondary teachers is projected to increase, but it will vary by field. For example, employment of health specialties teachers is projected to grow 23 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. As an aging population increasingly demands healthcare services, additional postsecondary teachers are expected to be needed to help educate the workers who will provide these services.

Job Prospects

There are expected to be more job opportunities for part-time postsecondary teachers since many institutions are filling vacancies with part-time rather than full-time teachers. There will be a limited number of full-time tenure-track positions and competition is expected to be high.

Some fields, such as health specialties and nursing, will likely experience better job prospects than others, such as those in the humanities.

Employment projections data for postsecondary teachers, 2018-28
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Postsecondary teachers

1,350,700 1,505,800 11 155,000

Business teachers, postsecondary

25-1011 108,000 123,900 15 15,900 Get data

Computer science teachers, postsecondary

25-1021 40,200 41,900 4 1,700 Get data

Mathematical science teachers, postsecondary

25-1022 61,100 62,900 3 1,700 Get data

Architecture teachers, postsecondary

25-1031 8,900 9,600 8 700 Get data

Engineering teachers, postsecondary

25-1032 47,500 52,800 11 5,300 Get data

Agricultural sciences teachers, postsecondary

25-1041 13,300 13,900 4 600 Get data

Biological science teachers, postsecondary

25-1042 64,500 72,000 12 7,600 Get data

Forestry and conservation science teachers, postsecondary

25-1043 2,600 2,700 5 100 Get data

Atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences teachers, postsecondary

25-1051 13,400 13,900 4 600 Get data

Chemistry teachers, postsecondary

25-1052 26,700 28,400 6 1,700 Get data

Environmental science teachers, postsecondary

25-1053 7,600 8,000 6 500 Get data

Physics teachers, postsecondary

25-1054 17,300 18,400 7 1,100 Get data

Anthropology and archeology teachers, postsecondary

25-1061 7,300 7,800 7 500 Get data

Area, ethnic, and cultural studies teachers, postsecondary

25-1062 12,600 13,500 7 900 Get data

Economics teachers, postsecondary

25-1063 16,400 17,700 8 1,300 Get data

Geography teachers, postsecondary

25-1064 4,800 5,100 5 200 Get data

Political science teachers, postsecondary

25-1065 20,300 21,800 8 1,500 Get data

Psychology teachers, postsecondary

25-1066 47,900 53,500 12 5,600 Get data

Sociology teachers, postsecondary

25-1067 17,400 18,500 6 1,100 Get data

Social sciences teachers, postsecondary, all other

25-1069 20,400 20,700 1 300 Get data

Health specialties teachers, postsecondary

25-1071 254,800 313,900 23 59,100 Get data

Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary

25-1072 69,000 82,800 20 13,800 Get data

Education teachers, postsecondary

25-1081 78,600 84,700 8 6,100 Get data

Library science teachers, postsecondary

25-1082 5,700 6,000 5 300 Get data

Criminal justice and law enforcement teachers, postsecondary

25-1111 18,100 19,600 8 1,500 Get data

Law teachers, postsecondary

25-1112 23,100 25,500 10 2,400 Get data

Social work teachers, postsecondary

25-1113 16,100 17,300 8 1,200 Get data

Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary

25-1121 118,900 128,200 8 9,300 Get data

Communications teachers, postsecondary

25-1122 35,800 37,700 5 1,900 Get data

English language and literature teachers, postsecondary

25-1123 83,000 86,400 4 3,400 Get data

Foreign language and literature teachers, postsecondary

25-1124 31,900 34,400 8 2,500 Get data

History teachers, postsecondary

25-1125 25,800 27,400 6 1,600 Get data

Philosophy and religion teachers, postsecondary

25-1126 31,700 34,800 10 3,100 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of postsecondary teachers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2018 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Career and technical education teachers

Career and Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers instruct students in various technical and vocational subjects, such as auto repair, healthcare, and culinary arts.

Bachelor's degree $56,750
Elementary, middle, and high school principals

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals oversee all school operations, including daily school activities.

Master's degree $95,310
Instructional coordinators

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They develop instructional material, implement it, and assess its effectiveness.

Master's degree $64,450
Postsecondary education administrators

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators oversee student services, academics, and faculty research at colleges and universities.

Master's degree $94,340

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about postsecondary teachers, visit

Council of Graduate Schools

O*NET

Agricultural Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary

Anthropology and Archeology Teachers, Postsecondary

Architecture Teachers, Postsecondary

Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Teachers, Postsecondary

Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary

Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary

Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Business Teachers, Postsecondary

Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary

Communications Teachers, Postsecondary

Computer Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary

Economics Teachers, Postsecondary

Education Teachers, Postsecondary

Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary

English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary

Environmental Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Foreign Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary

Forestry and Conservation Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Geography Teachers, Postsecondary

Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary

History Teachers, Postsecondary

Law Teachers, Postsecondary

Library Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Mathematical Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary

Philosophy and Religion Teachers, Postsecondary

Physics Teachers, Postsecondary

Political Science Teachers, Postsecondary

Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary

Social Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary, All Other

Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary

Sociology Teachers, Postsecondary

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Postsecondary Teachers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm (visited October 16, 2019).

Last Modified Date: Friday, September 13, 2019

What They Do

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Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2018 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2018, the median annual wage for all workers was $38,640.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2018

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2018, which is the base year of the 2018-28 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2018-28

The projected percent change in employment from 2018 to 2028. The average growth rate for all occupations is 5 percent.

Employment Change, 2018-28

The projected numeric change in employment from 2018 to 2028.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2018-28

The projected numeric change in employment from 2018 to 2028.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2018 to 2028.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2018 to 2028.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2018 to 2028.

2018 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2018, the median annual wage for all workers was $38,640.