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APWA Releases Public Works Salary Survey Results

Responses Give Insight to Work-Life Balance and Employer-Sponsored Benefits

KANSAS CITY, MO – November 27, 2018 – The American Public Works Association (APWA) has released its first salary survey of public works personnel in nearly 30 years. The report offers a detailed look at compensation, levels of education, and employer-sponsored benefits across the public works industry.

The 2018 APWA Public Works Compensation Report is the result of a study conducted by Industry Insights, Inc., an independent professional survey research firm located in Dublin, OH. The survey, which was released on November 20, was sent to more than 20,000 public works professionals in both the United States and Canada. More than 2,600 people, ranging from operations and administration staff up to directors of public works, responded to the survey.

"We want to continuously meet the needs of our members," said Scott Grayson, APWA's Executive Director since 2016, "which is why we felt it was important to complete this study at this time. As the Association for Public Works, our members and their agencies come to us looking for information that will help them to be successful in their communities and in their careers. We want to provide quality education in public works and be the best resource for public works technical and career information."

The study revealed some very important information about public works compensation. Starting at the top, Directors of Public Works in most areas are averaging six-figure incomes. Directors on the Pacific Coast tend to be the highest paid, and those in the East­South-Central region tend to be the lowest. In Canada, Public Works Directors average $153,000, significantly higher than their U.S. counterparts.

Another key result shows that levels of education directly correspond with levels of salary. Directors with graduate degrees earned an average of $10,000 more than Directors with bachelor’s degrees. Directors with bachelor’s degrees earned an average of $40,000 more per year than Directors without a college degree. However, the study showed a person without a college degree can rise to Director level and earn a comparable salary. Ten percent of respondents at the Director level did not have a college degree.

A notable difference between this survey and APWA’s last compensation report in 1989 was in the area of employer-sponsored benefits. Responses show surprising additions to the tools public works agencies now use to attract and retain employees.

Work-Life Benefits Popular Options for Employers

The 2018 study reveals that many agencies are offering full benefit packages that include work-life balance options such as the abilitiy to work from home or use flextime. While public works may not be a profession that lends itself well to working from home, employers appear to be getting away from the strict 8-5 shift and are being more flexible in their approach.

Not surprisingly, the ability to work from home was available to only 13.7% of respondents. However, a surprising 46.5% of public works personnel have flextime or flexible work hours available to them. Other less traditional employer-sponsored benefits in a public works setting included car allowances or mileage reimbursements (30.9%), tuition reimbursements (46.1%) and employee assistance and wellness programs, which surveyed at 95% and 90% respectively.

APWA has also built an online salary calculator tool that allows users to customize their searches, build as many reports as they need and download them to Excel. For instance, they can compare salaries by region, by title, budget size, staff size, education levels or population.

The complete 2018 APWA Public Works Compensation Report is available at for $99 for APWA members and $249 for nonmembers.

About APWA:
The American Public Works Association ( is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 29,800 members involved in the field of public works. APWA serves its members by promoting professional excellence and public awareness through education, advocacy and the exchange of knowledge. APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, has an office in Washington, D.C., along with 63 chapters across North America.