Friday, April 1, 2016

2016 eLearning Salary and Compensation Report - What Does It Tell Us?

The eLearning Guild recently released the 2016 US eLearning Salary and Compensation Report (Survey available for members here). The report summarizes the finding from 3,536 respondents living in the United States and presents analyses on salary and compensation broken out by a variety of criteria including location, gender, sector, and industry. 

I am not a statistician nor do I know the attributes required to have a compensation study be relevant, accurate, and sound. As I reviewed the findings, some of the analyses presented didn't ring true with my experience as a staffing professional with many years dedicated to the Learning space. In a number of cases I was left wanting more information on what went into the analyses and whether we were dealing with "apples and apples." 

For instance, while there may be some disparity in wages between male and female learning professionals, the report indicated that the US Average Salary by gender was $75,561 versus $88,347 for men. When I looked into this analysis it revealed a flaw that I believe effects most of the report. 

In my experience, salary is the compensation level placed on a candidates' value within the marketplace. This value is impacted by several factors: the candidates' breadth of skills and experience, their perceived ability to produce value for their employers, and supply and demand forces in the marketplace. While there are exceptions, the general rule is that candidates possessing more experience and skill will garner higher salaries and compensation. 

When you look at the analysis provided on Average Salary by Gender there is no indication on the average skill and experience level of the male and female respondents. To gain a valuable and insightful analysis of the differences in gender and pay you would need to evaluate male and female respondents with similar skills, experience, geographic location, etc. There is no indication given in the report on any of these very important factors. It would stand to reason that if, of the 3,536 US respondents, a larger percentage of the male respondents possessed more experience, their corresponding salaries would be higher. The report does not provide this vital data necessary to accurately evaluate any gender bias when it comes to salary.

This same issue and others exist in a large number of analyses reported. For example:
  •  US Average Salaries by State - How many respondents reported from each state and were the numbers sufficient to draw any conclusions? How did the average experience level of the respondents vary by state?
  • Average Salary by Industry, US Average Salary by Sector and Average Salary by State - What was the average experience level indicated by the respondents for each industry and sector cited? Where did these respondents live?
It is important to note that the report does include an analyses of salary by job level and gender. This analysis again leaves me wondering what went into the numbers - the number of people included in each job level, where they were located, and similar factors that could easily skew or validate the analysis.  

I do not doubt the accuracy of the analyses and numbers presented. The eLearning Guild should be commended for undertaking this survey and research. At the same time, I find myself lacking the grounding to know what to make of the analyses. Without knowing more about what went in to the source data it is impossible to know if any valuable conclusions can be drawn from many of the analyses presented.

 As always, your comments are welcomed.