NACE Logo NACE Center Logo
National Association of Colleges and Employers NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition®
mobile menu
  • Pandemic Impacts Career Services Budgets, Staffing

    April 06, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

    Trends & Predictions
    Charts and data strewn across a table.

    TAGS: trends and predictions, surveys, nace insights, career development

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    The COVID-19 pandemic has had marked impacts on career services operations, including on budgets and staffing, according to NACE’s 2020-21 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report.

    Survey results illustrate the hit that career center budgets took during the pandemic. Overall, more than one-third of career centers (33.6%) reported cuts to their personnel budgets—a sharp contrast from the nearly 36% that reported increases in their personnel budgets last year. (See Figure 1.)

    In addition, more than half (56.7%) of respondents to the current survey reported decreases in their non-personnel budgets.

    Overall, staffing levels fell from 2019-20 to 2020-21. However, they improved with respect to student-to-staff ratios, especially compared to the most recent years.

    The median total office FTE (professional and administrative support positions) decreased from 7.5 during the 2019-20 academic year to 6.3 in 2020-21, and the mean decreased from 10.9 to 9.8. The mean for total professional staff per office also decreased from 6.6 to 6.1, but the median remained the same. (See Figure 2.)

    Despite these decreases, the median total graduate assistant/intern staff increased by 0.5. The total other FTE staff increased by 1.0 since last year. The averages of these two staff categories also increased since last year.

    NACE collected data for its 2020-21 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report from September 28, 2020, to December 11, 2020. The responses were submitted in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and reflect many of the changes career services offices made to their operations. For its 2020-21 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report, NACE surveyed its member institutions, resulting in 538 respondents, which translates to a 27.4% response rate. The 2020-21 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report is available in MyNACE.

    Figure 1: Budget changes from 2019-20 to 2020-21

      Personnel Nonpersonnel
    Not sure; we don't have access to these budget figures 15.9% 11.6%
    Decrease by more than 20% 7.6% 16.4%
    Decrease between 10% and 20% 10.1% 18.4%
    Decrease by less than 10% 15.9% 21.9%
    No change 39.2% 25.4%
    Increase by less than 10% 6.6% 3.8%
    Increase between 10% and 20% 2.3% 0.5%
    Increase by more than 20% 2.3% 2.0%
    Source: 2020-21 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 2: FTE staffing levels across position type, overall

      Total Professional Staff FTE Total Administrative Support Staff FTE Total Graduate Assistant/Intern FTE Total Undergraduate Staff FTE Total Other Staff FTE Total Office FTE
    Mean Median Mean Median Mean Median Mean Median Mean Median Mean Median
    2020-21 6.1 4.0 1.6 1.0 1.8 1.0 2.4 1.5 2.1 1.0 9.8 6.3
    2019-20 6.6 4.0 1.3 1.0 1.1 0.5 2.4 1.5 0.8 0.0 10.9 7.5
    Source: 2020-21 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report, National Association of Colleges and Employers
  • Practicing Law Insitute
    NACE Professional Development