What kind of callous person would I be if I were not profoundly disturbed by such obvious inequality? And what does it say about my entire profession when over 70 percent of those teaching in American colleges today are precarious, at-will workers? This new faculty majority, frequently and erroneously mislabeled as part-timers, are often full-time, long-term perma-temps, whose obscenely low wages and total lack of job security constitute what is only now being recognized as the "dirty little secret" in higher education.
The exploitation is indeed filthy, but for me and my tenured colleagues, this scandal is neither little nor secret: the vast majority of those well-educated, skilled professionals who daily teach millions of students in our classrooms are actually being paid far less than the workers who nightly clean them. Ad-cons are treated as chattel or as servants who can be dismissed at the will and whim of any administrator from departmental chair to dean or provost. And woe to those ad-cons who elicit the wrath of their campus presidents! They can be non-renewed without any due process whatsoever, simply zapped, either individually or by the hundreds. We all know this, but most tenured faculty colleagues choose to simply look the other way. C’est la vie. Tough luck. Life just isn’t fair. Keep on walking and change the subject.Another depressing statistic: Yahoo!Jobs recently listed music as the #4 lowest-paying college degree, with an average starting salary of $34,000 and a mid-career average of $52,000.
But wait, all is not lost. Focus also published a list of the Best Jobs in America, with College Professor coming in at #4, with a median salary of $70,000. Bear in mind that Focus' stats are for the full professor level, and probably don't include the salaries of those at the Assistant or Associate level.
Profession-wide, it's difficult to get a sense of exactly how much teachers at schools of music are making. As far as I know, there are no statistics in existence that list the salary ranges of faculty at schools of music.
[Disclosure: I'm on the faculty of the Royal Conservatory of Music, an organization that does not have a tenure system, although it has a collective agreement, offers benefits and pension to qualifying faculty, professional support, and a relatively high level of faculty job security.]
What are your thoughts on teaching, studying, and administrating in the groves of musical academe?