National Route Setting Compensation Survey Results
Between March and May of 2016, 197 route setters from across the country took part in Tick.Tape.Tighten.'s "National Route Setting Compensation Survey."
With the number of commerical climbing facilities on the rise, an increasing number of route setters have been raising questions regarding fair and reasonable compensation within their profession; however, up until this time, little data has been compiled on the subject.
As such, the goal of this survey was to shed some light on the industry, specifically in regards to route setting, and to gather some relevant, factual information for route setters, managers, and gym owners to reference throughout their future endevours.
The results have been compiled into various graphs and charts for your use below.
If you have any questions or comments regarding the survey, results, data interpertation, etc., please feel free to drop us a line at any time.
*In certain cases, skewed data sets were taken into account by reporting the median data results (rather than the mean) to showa more real representation of the participants surveyed.
*Extreme outliers were removed from the survey results to help maintain a fair represtation of the data set.
*Not every participant answered every question in the survey; however, every question had at least a 90% response rate.
*USA Climbing divisional lines were used in throughout the survey to help determine where in the country responses were being tallied, while maintaining route setters' anonymity.
USA Climbing Regions + Divisions
Reference the USAC divisional lines for route setting data within your geographic area.
National Route Setting Compensation
Every USA Climbing division was represented with an impressive balance. Division 2 had the largest number of setters participate in the survey at nearly 16%, and Division 7 had the smallest at just about 10.5%.
Hours of Setting per Week
Almost 22% of route setters work full time, which is nearly in line with the 19.46% of setters who are salaried employees.
Years Spent Route Setting
The median number of years route setters have been practicing for is 5 years.
Breakdown of Payment Structure
19.46% of setters get paid salary, whereas over 70% of setters surveyed get paid hourly.
Hourly Living Wage
$10.99 is the average national county livable wage. As a note, three setters reported livable wages in their county at over $20.00/hour, which can be explained either by a large number of dependent family members, or false data entry. Like all other extreme outliers, they were removed from the data set results.
Average County Living Wage Divisions
Division 8 has the highest reported mean county living wage at $12.92/ hour. Divisions 3 and 6 clock in at the lowest, averaging $10.44 and $10.89, respectively.
The national average wage for a route setter is $14.00/ hour.
Average Hourly Compensation Division
Differences between groups were significant (p=.05).
There was a correlation between division and compensation. Translated simply, depending on where you live, the wage you get paid will differ, likely based on that area’s necessary livable wage.
For example, Division 8 has the highest average hourly compensation rate at $16.46/ hour, but also the highest average hourly living wage at $12.92. Divisions 4 and 7 clock in at the lowest compensation, averaging $12.66 and $12.35, respectively.
Hourly Wage as % of Living Wage
On average (throughout the nation), compensation of a route setter is 25% higher than that particular route setter’s average county living wage.
Percent of County Living Wage
134 route setters (77% of setters surveyed) make more than the average necessary livable wage. 40 route setters (or 23%) do not make a livable wage on par with the national average
On average, route setters are compensated anywhere from 12% to 36% more than their area's necessary living average.
Head route setters and those with salaried positions partially skew this data set, meaning that there are a number of setters who do not get paid in line with their county's necessary livable wage.
Likelihood to Maintain SOL
56.68% of route setters reported that it was "Unlikely" to "Highly Unlikely" that they would be able to maintain a reasonable standard of living at their current rate of pay.
It should be noted that the definition of "livable wage" is not synonymous with a "reasonable standard of living." Livable wage is a calculated county average, whereas a reasonable SOL is an individual or community's perception on quality of life.
Opportunities for Development
"Yes" answers included any and all types of opportunities offered by a route setter’s facility.
Opportunities for Advancement
Perceived opportunities for advancement by route setters within their company, broken down by division.
Route Setter Benefits by Division
"Yes" answers included any and all types of benefits offered by a route setter’s facility.
Special thanks to Daniel Cartwright for his role in the organization and interpertation of data within this survey.