2012 Salary Survey Results

Family planning clinicians see steadiness in salaries and in clinic staffing levels

Public health is a familiar setting for many readers of Contraceptive Technology Update. About 51% of respondents to the 2012 Salary Survey say they work in a health department, and most noted no changes in 2012 staffing numbers.

Don't get too comfortable with your staffing numbers, though, if you are a public health employee. According to a recent report issued by the Arlington, VA-based Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), a federal sequester scheduled for Jan. 2, 2013, will adversely affect local public health employment figures. Sequestration is the term for automatic budget cuts to federal government programs. Such action was included as a budget reduction enforcement mechanism in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The sequester is scheduled to take place in 2013 unless Congress passes legislation to postpone it or finds other ways to reduce the federal deficit.

According to the ASTHO report, the sequester will cut about $2.4 billion in funding at the major federal agencies concerned with public health in FY 2013.1

Due to widespread budget cuts to state public health over the past several years, many state health agencies have had to eliminate staff, ASTHO reports. Since 2008, 48 states have reported budget cuts to health departments, and more than 45,700 state and local health department jobs have been lost.

Federal public health spending already has been reduced by 8% ($2.5 billion) from FY 2010 through FY 2012. Sequestration will reduce that level by an additional 8.4% in a single fiscal year, for a total reduction since 2010 of $4.9 billion (16%).

"Sequestration is intended to force the government to save money, but it's important to remember how much we'll lose if it takes place," said Paul Jarris, MD, MBA, ASTHO executive director in a statement accompanying the new report. "Billions in cuts could put American lives at risk."

In the second presidential debate in October 2012, President Barack Obama said that the sequester "will not happen." However, at press time, no consensus has been reached by Congressional delegates.2

Bright spots seen

While staffing cuts were noted by 2012 CTU Salary Survey respondents, the reductions were not as severe as in 2011. About 36% reported lower staffing numbers, compared to 56% in 2011. About half (45%) reported no changes in employment levels, compared to 31% in the previous year. More good news: 19% saw increases in staffing, a jump above 2011's 13% level.

A holding pattern is seen when it comes to salaries for survey respondents About 31% of survey reported a 1-3% increase in salary, with 44% seeing no change in pay levels. This finding is a near mirror image from the previous year, when 36% said they got a 1-3% bump, and 42% noting no change. While about 13% saw a drop in salary; about 7% saw a 4-6% raise. These amounts compare with 2011's 14% and 6% respective figures. (See "In the past year, how has your salary changed?" graphic above.)

Extra hours don't enter into the picture for most survey respondents. About 61% report working 40 hours or less a week. (See "How many hours a week do you work?" graphic below.) About 31% say they supervise between 4-10 people. (See "How many people do you supervise, directly or indirectly?" graphic, below.)

Does location make a difference? Almost half (48%) reported working in a rural area, with 22% in a medium-sized city. About 16% said they worked in an urban setting, with 15% in a suburban location. While the majority of respondents said they worked in a public health agency, some 19% reported clinic employment. About 14% said they worked in a college health service environment, with 7% at an agency. (Check the snapshot on p. 4 for an overview of 2012 respondents.)

Make your resume work

If you are considering searching for a new job, make sure your resume is up to the task. Include updated contact information, says Renee Dahring, MSN, NP, family nurse practitioner and career coach. Dahring operates a career coaching web site, www.nursepractitionerjobsearch.com and pens a "Career Coach" blog at www.advanceweb.com/NPPA. Under "Blogs," click on "Career Coach."

E-mail has become the preferred mode of communication for employers, so be sure you include your physical and e-mail address, as well as a telephone number, she says.

Be specific about your skill set, says Dahring. Play up abilities that fall in line with the prospective job. Stating that you "provided quality care" is one thing. Be sure to spell out how you achieved it, Dahring says. Also, study the requirements listed in a job posting and make sure your resume reflects the same language. Many employers are using electronic resume tracking. For example, if you don't include your nursing license number when the position listing calls for it, your resume might automatically be kicked out, states Dahring.

"These systems can't read between the lines," she notes.

A cover letter can help a prospective employer know if you are open to options, such as travel, relocation, or other positions, says Dahring. Use the cover letter to state such interests. If you are not a good fit for the position now open, an employer might file your resume for a future, different position if you declare such flexibility, she states.

Flex networking power

Is it time to add to your academic credentials? About 44% of 2012 survey respondents have a graduate degree. About 48% have worked in their present field for 15 years or less. (See "What is your highest academic degree?" and "How long have you worked in your present field?" graphics, below.)

When looking to add to your knowledge base, be sure to widen your circle of professional networking options as well, states Dahring. Networking continues to be number one method in landing a new job, says Dahring. Networking can be combined with enhancing your clinical practice, she explains. By checking the community and state health departments on public health issues, you'll gain current information, as well as contacts that might be able to help you in potential job searches. Don't limit yourself to your profession. Physicians, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and other health professionals might have valuable job information that can help you when you are ready to make an employment move, Dahring says.

Know that many job positions might not even be advertised, Dahring advises. Employers are looking for recommendations from employees; if you keep your networking circle current, you might be included in one of those recommendations, she notes.

"Employers are finding that the best way to find to get a trusted employee is to ask a trusted employee," states Dahring.


1. Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Potential Impact of Sequestration on Public Health. Accessed at http://bit.ly/VkPPnp.
2. Arnold M. Full steam ahead for Obamacare, but gridlock isn't going anywhere. Medical Marketing & Media 2012. Accessed at http://bit.ly/TATD1K.

Chart 1

Chart 2

Chart 3

Chart 4

Chart 5

Chart 6

Chart 7