Higher Education Administrator: Employment & Career Info

Mar 28, 2019

Higher education administrators manage the short- and long-term operations of a college or university. Because of the wide variety of job titles and responsibilities in this field, academic qualifications vary greatly. Read on to explore the requirements, salary and employment outlook, to decide if this career is for you.

Career Definition for Higher Education Administrators

Typical duties and job titles can vary widely, from college president to vice president of academic affairs to student affairs professional. In general, higher education administrators work with college and university faculty, staff, and students on projects related to academics, operations, and student life. For example, college and university presidents are responsible for directing and overseeing the daily and long-term administration of the school as a whole, from academic standards to cultivation of alumni organizations to faculty development to managing endowments. Higher education administrators specializing in student affairs may oversee residence hall life, student programming, and extracurricular activities.

Education Gradaute degree in higher education or a field related to desired position
Job Duties Oversee and improve various college departments or offices
Median Salary (2017) $92,360 for post-secondary education administrators
Job Growth (2016-2026) 10% for post-secondary education administrators

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Qualifications vary widely based on job title and responsibilities. Higher education administrators typically hold a master's degree or Ph.D. depending on the particulars of the job. Those interested in being higher education administrators may also obtain a Master of Education degree in higher education as a stepping-stone to professional advancement. Higher education administrators may study economics, sociology, organizational studies, student affairs, law, business, ethics, and resource management as they relate specifically to higher education settings. They may also study the theory and practice of educational administration.

Required Skills

Outstanding interpersonal, analytical, leadership, and communication skills are essential. Higher education administrators must be able to manage diverse resources, react quickly to situations, and re-prioritize as needed. Time management skills are a must due to the number of projects that must be balanced and completed, often on tight deadlines.

Career and Economic Outlook

There is generally strong competition for higher education administrator jobs. According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), pay varies widely by institution and job description. Prestigious universities may pay more than small rural community colleges, and senior higher education administrators like college presidents usually earn more than junior administrators. The employment among all postsecondary educational administrators has been projected to grow by 10% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. The same source published the overall, median salary among postsecondary administrators as $92,360 per year in May 2017.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Training and Development Manager

Requiring at least a bachelor's degree, in addition to related work experience, these positions involve the planning and implementation of programs to enhance an organization's employees' skills. Demand for these professionals was expected to increase at a faster than average pace of 10% during the 2016-2026 decade, according to the BLS. In 2017, the BLS also reported an annual median wage of $108,250 for these managers.

Administrative Services Manager

Although a high school diploma, along with related work experience, is sufficient for some positions, others require at least a bachelor's degree. Certifications are also available and may improve applicants' job prospects. The need for these managers was expected to grow by 10% from 2016-2026, and the BLS noted that they earned median wages of $94,020 per year as of 2017.

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