Administrative jobs are common to nearly all organizations and are often a core part of benchmarking projects. As such, we’ve included the occupation in our Year-to-Year Analysis of Salary Survey Data Trends.

Our analysis compares salaries from participant submissions to ERI Salary Surveys between 2011 and 2012, for both nonprofit and for-profit reports. For each year, total averages were calculated by job title and included all industries and geographic areas to maximize sample size.

As shown in the table below, organizations reported higher salaries in 2012 for six of the twelve administrative titles, near-zero change for three titles, and a slight drop for the remaining three. Changes ranged from a 3% decrease to a 6% increase.


2011 Salary

2012 Salary


Accounting Clerk




Accounts Payable Clerk




Administrative Assistant




Executive Secretary




Human Resources Clerk




Inventory Clerk




Legal Secretary




Mail Clerk




Payroll Clerk




Payroll Supervisor








Shipping & Receiving Clerk




In general, survey data for administrative jobs exhibited less year-to-year variability than did data for executives and computer occupations, which had increases and decreases in the double digits and will be highlighted in a future post. It is unclear from the current analysis why this might be the case, but there are some possibilities worth mentioning.

Executives are clearly key members of any organization, and they are compensated accordingly. It should come as no surprise then that compensation changes tend to be more dramatic for these positions (both up and down). Administrative roles, on the other hand, are typically drawn from a local labor pool and are less likely to experience large swings in pay. This does not imply that these positions are not important to the organization. Rather, there is often a significantly larger labor pool from which to fill these positions. Smaller labor pools require organizations to assemble more attractive compensation packages (including starting salary and more opportunity for increases and bonuses).

In a given market, some “standard” occupations might evolve into key positions, even if temporarily, and thus command greater increases in the market rate. In such a situation, it is likely that people are changing organizations as companies compete for talent by offering greater salaries and benefits. Conversely, a volatile market can see market rates collapse for an over-saturated talent pool.