Become an Academic Advisor: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become an academic advisor. Research the job description, education requirements, and key skills required for starting a career in academic advising. View article »

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Becoming an Academic Advisor

Academic advisors assist students with maintaining their grades and achieving their goals. The position generally requires knowledge of university policy and relevant laws, as well as the ability to create rapport with students and communicate with other university employees.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree or Master's degree
Degree Field Various; advisors from all degree fields are needed to assist students with their educational needs.
Key Skills Organization, effective written and oral communication, interpersonal skills, willingness to learn campus policies and educational laws
Median Salary (2016) $39,626


Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree

Many employers require at least a bachelor's degree for prospective academic advisors. Those who hold a bachelor's degree may work with students from a related academic field. For example, an academic advisor with a bachelor's degree in mathematics might find work in a mathematics department. Some entry-level positions do not require further education, although advanced positions are more likely to require a graduate degree.

Step 2: Develop Work Experience

Those looking to become academic advisors may benefit from experience in other positions, such as departmental academic assistant or staff assistant, in campus settings to develop computer, organizational, and communication skills. Familiarity with campus policies, as well as educational laws, can also be necessary for prospective academic advisors.

Step 3: Pursue a Graduate Degree

Students can find a number of possible concentration areas at the graduate level. Degree programs in guidance and counseling, higher education or related fields can provide opportunities for an initial job search, as well as pursuing career advancement.

Similar to other university administrators, those interested in academic advising may rise from staff positions as they develop their abilities through further education. Related degree programs, such as the Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration, might offer coursework in higher education management, the history of higher education and educational finance.

Step 4: Find a Job

Prospective academic advisors may pursue careers at community colleges, technical institutions, and universities. As academic advisors develop their skills through work experience and continued education, they may also help develop academic programs or conduct research. Professional conferences, such as those offered by the National Academic Advising Association, can also help advisors maintain their ability to serve students and stay current with developments in the field.

Academic advisors assist students with maintaining their grades and achieving their goals. They need at least a bachelor's degree, but may find jobs easier with experience and a graduate degree.

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