Staff vs Faculty

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: March 3, 2022  •  6 min read  •  Education
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Often, the terms staff and faculty are used interchangeably. They are two terms used to describe people that work at a school, university, or college. While both terms can describe employers, they commonly refer to different employees.

If you’re curious about how staff and faculty are different, this is the article for you. Let’s look at both individually and let’s look at the differences, too.

What is Staff?

Staff at a university or college will play a supporting role and handle administrative tasks. They are employees that help make the school run properly.

Some of the common positions considered to be staff include:

There may also be all types of other positions that fall under this label. Even those catering events on a university campus are considered part of the staff. It’s not uncommon for students to work part-time in a staff position while attending classes full-time.

What is Faculty?

Faculty positions are a bit more specialized. Often, this group of employees will handle the teaching and the research at a university or college. These are the only two roles faculty will play.

If you’re a part of the faculty, you will likely work as one of the following:

These are the only positions you will likely find as a part of the faculty.

Staff vs Faculty: The Key Differences

There are glaring differences between staff and faculty. It’s pretty easy to see the differences when you look at the different positions in each category. Along with the obvious differences, there are a few others.

Career Advancement

Professors, which fall under faculty, can become tenured. This is the most common type of advancement for faculty. It’s also possible for teaching assistants to become teachers or professors.

The staff, on the other hand, has many different types of advancement opportunities. Depending on your position, you may be able to advance to a higher-level staff position. However, there may also be careers considered to be staff that offer no advancement opportunities.

Salary/Hourly Pay

Often, faculty positions are paid a salary, while staff positions are paid an hourly wage. This isn’t always the case, but it’s rather common.

According to Indeed.com, a professor (part of the faculty) will earn an average annual salary of about $54K. Some universities and colleges will pay a much higher salary of more than $200K for top professors.

Staff wages can vary quite a bit from one position to another. For example, a janitor may earn an hourly rate of about $15, according to Salary.com. The range for this position is about $12 to $21 per hour.

A plumber, on the other hand, will likely earn much more. This is also the case for the Dean of Students and even a Librarian. Sometimes, these can be salary positions, but many staff positions are hourly positions.

Employees Filling the Positions

Faculty positions will require a specific level of education. Often, these positions are filled by professionals with an advanced degree. This is especially true for professor positions and research positions. Some researchers may only have a bachelor’s degree, but they will likely need an advanced degree to advance in their careers.

Staff positions are also filled by professionals at the higher level. These higher-level positions may require a specific education or level of training. For example, staff physical therapists will need to go through the proper training to become a physical therapist.

Other high-level positions may require a bachelor’s degree, associate degree, or specific work experience. Admissions managers, operations managers, those working in the finance department, and even custodial managers will need the proper training and education.

Lower-level staff positions are often filled by students. Those without much more than a high school education can often land a job in this type of position. This may include working in a food court, catering positions, retail employees, and custodial crew members.

Working Hours

It’s also common to find a clear difference between staff and faculty based on the hours they work. While there are exceptions to the rule, typically staff will have a pretty regular schedule. Full-time staff members often work 40 hours a week.

The irregular schedules for staff members come in with student workers. Often, the part-time staff will work flexible schedules. This helps students to work, while also attending classes.

Faculty members may have some set hours for class times, but they tend to work a very irregular schedule. They may have to keep certain office hours, but the hours can vary quite a bit. One semester may present a different set of hours for a professor than another.

Both staff and faculty may work overtime. However, staff positions may get paid an hourly wage, so overtime means extra compensation. There may be busier times of the year that require some overtime, however.

Levels

Faculty doesn’t have the same levels as staff. Typically, there will be tenured faculty and faculty. There may be levels outside of the professors within the faculty, however.

With staff, there are three pretty clear levels including:

It’s not uncommon for students to help fill the low-level staffing positions. They may also fill some middle-level staffing positions, especially after experience in a low-level position.

While both staff and faculty are very important to the success of a college or university, they are quite different. The faculty is the educators, while the staff provides the necessary support services.

Understanding the difference is important. These are not two terms that can really be used interchangeably. They have a different meaning and refer to different types of careers.

There are clear differences in the type of education necessary, along with the salary or pay of these positions. Faculty is a bit more specialized and refers to a very specific group, while staff refers to many different positions.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!