Nebraska ESP Salaries Lag Those in Neighboring States

Across America, more than 2.7 million education support professionals (ESPs) work in the nation’s public schools and colleges, with 77 percent employed at the K-12 level.

Paraeducators make up 32 percent of that number, and clerical workers add another 23 percent to that total.

Those are the numbers from the National Education Association’s ESP Data Book: A Work Force Profile of Education Support Professionals, released in December. The numbers were culled from an in-depth review of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, a nationwide sample survey that has been continuously collected since 2005. The Data Book provides a detailed look at the ESPs in America’s public schools and post-secondary institutions.

Salaries for Nebraska’s 14,872 full-time ESPs trail the national average.

“Like our teachers, our Education Support Professionals are underpaid when compared to their peers across the country,” NSEA President Jenni Benson said.

The survey shows that when looking at earnings of the full-time ESP work force, Nebraska’s ESPs rank 34th in average salary, at $28,875. That figure stands behind Wyoming, ($33,446, 17th), Colorado ($31,085, 25th ), Iowa ($29,220, 31st) and Missouri ($28,965, 33rd), but ahead of Kansas ($26,451, 47th) and South Dakota ($24,892, 51st).

The average salary for a full-time ESP in the U.S. is $35,159.

Another 5,223 ESPs work part-time at their school jobs. Nebraska ESPs are well-educated, with 12.4 percent owning an associate degree and another 25.5 percent with a bachelor’s degree, both numbers topping the national averages of 11.8 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

The largest group of ESPs in Nebraska are paraeducators (6,238), followed by clerical (4,421) and custodial (2,983) employees. The remainder are scattered among food service, security, transportation, technical and other job duties.

The average age of a Nebraska ESP is 44.9 years and 69.3 percent are female. Just more than 5 percent live below the poverty line.

Earnings data reflect 2019-20 averages.