Private Educational Services: A Growing Sector in Oregon

by Jessica Nelson

October 30, 2018

Oregon’s private educational services industry has added jobs year after year since 1990, which is as far back as industry data extend. By 2017, Oregon employment in educational services had more than doubled its 1990 level, reaching 30,500 jobs. Educational services includes private elementary and secondary schools as well as colleges, but it also includes many less visible sources of training like technical and trade schools, fine arts schools, and sports and recreation instruction.

Educational services employment grew 27 percent over the past decade, adding 6,500 jobs. Growth in the sector has been triple the rate of growth across the economy – total employment in Oregon grew 9 percent between 2007 and 2017. Since 2015, the annual payroll of private educational services has topped $1 billion. 
Jobs in private educational services are heavily concentrated in the state’s metro areas. The state’s 13 metropolitan counties account for more than nine out of 10 jobs in the sector. Multnomah County is home to 30 percent of the state’s private educational services establishments and 39 percent of the sector’s jobs. Washington County accounts for another 16 percent of establishments and 19 percent of jobs. Add in Clackamas County’s share, at 9 percent of establishments and 7 percent of jobs, and the three-county core of the Portland area holds more than half of educational services locations and two-thirds of sector jobs in the state.

It’s no surprise that teachers are by far the most common occupation in private educational services. Coaches and scouts are also a large part of the industry, as well as teacher assistants, secretaries and administrative assistants, office clerks, and administrators.
From Montessori to Management Training

The two largest private educational services subsectors are elementary and secondary schools, with 10,500 jobs, and colleges and universities, which employed 9,600 in Oregon in 2017. Each of these categories represents about one-third of the overall private educational services employment in the state. The remaining one-third is spread across a variety of activities. 

Most subsectors of educational services have grown over the past decade, with the greatest number of jobs added in private elementary and secondary schools (+2,100) and colleges and universities (+1,300). The educational support services industry has doubled in size over the past 10 years, adding more than 900 jobs. Fine arts schools have grown 82 percent, adding almost 700 jobs. Sports and recreation instruction employment has grown 73 percent and added more than 700 jobs.

Private junior colleges dropped about 40 percent between 2007 and 2017, declining from an already small employment base. Private technical and trade schools also declined slightly over the period, dropping about 120 jobs or 6 percent.
Average annual pay in private educational services is below the private-sector average. Jobs in educational services paid an average of $37,182 in 2017, compared with Oregon’s private-sector average pay of $50,483. Pay in private educational services also falls behind the average pay in Oregon’s much larger local government educational services industry, which includes public schools, community colleges, and state universities. That public side of educational services employs far more workers, with 116,000 jobs in 2017 compared with the private total of 30,500. Public educational services had an average wage of $51,018 in 2017.

There’s a lot of variation in the average pay within educational services. Jobs in management training and educational support services pay average wages that are above Oregon’s private-sector average. These sectors are almost entirely contained in the private sector, with very little employment in public sector.

The state’s private colleges and universities averaged pay of $46,865 in 2017. In contrast, public colleges and universities paid an average of $70,353 in 2017. Private elementary and secondary schools’ average wage of $33,306 showed a similar gap with the much larger public school system, which paid an average of $44,403 in 2017.

Average wages are low among the 1,800 jobs in sports and recreation instruction and the 1,500 jobs in fine arts schools, with average annual pay below $16,000. These industries are very small and quite low paying in the public sector as well.

A growing population demands more educational services. Educational support services like tutoring have grown in popularity, and so have extracurricular programs like sports and music. Those demands are reflected in growing numbers of jobs in private educational services.

Growth has continued in the sector since at least 1990, which is as far back as data are available. That growth is projected to continue at a slightly faster clip than overall employment growth. Private educational services is expected to grow about 14 percent between 2017 and 2027, compared with overall growth of 12 percent. In addition to employment growth, there will be many job openings in coming years as current teachers, teacher’s assistants, coaches, school secretaries, office clerks, and so many other workers leave the education workforce for retirement. Private educational services will provide many opportunities for Oregon workers in the years to come. 

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