Job Satisfaction of Emerging and Midlevel Residential Life Professionals Employed At 4-Year Institutions In the Southeastern United States

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership and School Counseling

First Advisor

Wanda Maulding

Advisor Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling


The purpose of this study was to identify which factors contribute the most to overall job satisfaction or job dissatisfaction in the specific student affairs field of residential life among emerging and midlevel professionals. The identification of these factors has allowed administrators to evaluate workplace environment as well as anticipated rate of retention of employees at the institution as well as within the field of student affairs. Factors that affect job satisfaction or dissatisfaction can be divided into two groups: motivators and hygiene factors, according to Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory. The highest of each of these factor groups, together with correlational studies between the factors and anticipated rate of retention with the residential life field of student affairs among emerging and midlevel management at 4-year institutions in 10 different states in the southeastern United States was studied. Participants provided reasons for satisfaction and dissatisfaction, as well as a reason for leaving their current position in free-response sections of the questionnaire. Factors were rated highest to lowest and by strength of the correlations. Qualitative responses were coded according to each of the identified factors in the quantitative portion of the study and were ranked according to frequency. This study was developed to benefit Directors of Residential Life or Chief Housing Officers to identify why employees choose to stay or why they choose to leave their emerging or midlevel positions at their current institutions. Several studies have been conducted on the satisfaction and dissatisfaction of faculty members. However, very few studies have been conducted that focus specifically on residential life professionals. Studies on job satisfaction can identify problem areas and improvements in these areas can assist in retaining staff. Of the motivators, achievement, job security, and work itself scored the highest on the satisfaction/dissatisfaction scale. While, interpersonal relations with students, working conditions, and interpersonal relations with subordinates scored the highest among the hygiene factors. Advancing within the profession and retiring were the top plans for leaving the current position. Work itself, advancement, growth, interpersonal relations with superiors, and interpersonal relations with peers were the factors that correlated the strongest to anticipated rate of retention using a Spearman correlation. Recommendations for further research on satisfaction and dissatisfaction in residential life as well as other student affairs fields were made. It was also recommended to study other areas of the country, public and private institutions, and institutions of different size. Future researchers can also do a comparison study between those residential life professionals living on campus and those who are living off.