For High-Paying Employers – Business, Office Skills Matter as Much as Technical Abilities

High-paying, specialized fields such as health care and technology demand strong, technical skills.  However, a review of job postings by Gray Associates, a higher education consulting firm, reveals increasingly employers are demanding a strong foundation in business and office skills, as well.

“Employers are looking for candidates who not only are technically proficient but can thrive in an office or clinical setting,” says Gray Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Atkins.  “Schools that produce well-rounded candidates are likely to have higher placement rates, which, in turn, will help them attract more – and better-prepared students.”

Gray analyzes job posting data to help institutions understand the employment prospects for their graduates.  Information on skills required for different occupations provides insight into whether academic programs provide the kind of training employers are looking for, and the findings can also aid in curriculum planning.

In addition, the data on employer requirements is incorporated into Gray’s Program Evaluation System (PES), which helps institutions decide which programs to Start, Stop, Sustain or Grow.  Gray and subscribers to PES can access data for any of the more than 1,400 programs in the IPEDS-CIP (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System Classification of Instructional Programs) database.

As an example, the employer requirements for two occupations in the human services field, Social and Human Services Assistant and Social and Community Service Manager, show the primary work activities that fit with these jobs require a mix of health care and business skills.  “Counsel clients or patients regarding personal issues” and “match clients to public or community services” were the descriptions that fit best with job requirements, with a near-perfect .99 correlation.  However, several descriptions focused on establishing and/or maintaining relationships with clients, customers, stakeholders or vendors.


Workers in human services careers also needed strong office technology skills.  The most-cited skills, each with a .99 correlation, were desktop computers, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, personal computers, and web browser software.  Six of the 17 tools human services workers need to know were either Microsoft Office or its components, such as Excel or Word.

Gray’s overall analysis of human services showed that it is a field with strong student interest but intense competition and constrained job prospects.  Among the key points:

  • Inquiry volume for October 2017 was 95 percent ahead of October 2016 and the field ranks in the 98th percentile among IPEDS-CIP programs.
  • After peaking in 2015 at just under 60,000, job postings have declined for two consecutive years.
  • The mean salary for postings that listed salary was $48,000, and 62 percent of postings mentioning education requirements cited a bachelor’s degree.
  • Human services is one of the more competitive academic fields, with more than 400 institutions offering programs.  The market leaders are mostly private, for-profit, four-year institutions including Grand Canyon University, University of Phoenix, and Kaplan.

The full report can be viewed here:                   

About Gray Associates

Gray Associates, Inc. is a higher education consulting firm.  We help clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies to maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.  Gray uses proprietary analytical techniques and an industry-leading database combining information on inquiry volumes, demographics, competition, and employment, to help faculty and school leadership develop institutional strategies, select programs, pick locations, and prepare curricula.

Media contact:
Ellis Simon, 516-524-6804,

Company contact:
Mark Keleher, 617-366-2831,

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Gray Associates, Inc. is a software and services firm focused on higher education. We help education clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies that maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.

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