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College/University Administrator Job Description, Career as a College/University Administrator, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Advanced degree

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

College/university administrators maintain, develop, coordinate, and oversee the various programs in public and private colleges and universities. There are many different types of administrators. They may be responsible for a variety of tasks ranging from financial aid to student activities.

The president directs the entire campus operation and oversees all other administrators. The provost handles all aspects of the academic program, including curriculum, library, research, and faculty matters. Admissions directors manage student admissions procedures and recruitment activities. They plan and produce application and admissions materials, review student applications, maintain student files, and develop the recruiting program.

Financial aid directors manage the loan programs, scholarships, and grant-in-aid programs, which provide financial assistance to students. Registrars direct class scheduling and student registration, oversee collection of tuition and fees, maintain student transcripts, and supervise commencement. The dean of students, or student affairs administrator, is responsible for overseeing extracurricular activities, student housing, and counseling services. Many colleges and universities have additional administrative positions such as director of public relations, director of alumni affairs, and chief planning officer or development officer.

Education and Training Requirements

To become a college or university administrator, a person must at minimum have a master's degree in a field such as student counseling, finance, or higher education administration. The larger and more prestigious academic institutions often require that top administrators have a Ph.D. Knowledge of computer science and data processing is helpful. Strong organizational and managerial skills as well as efficiency and decisiveness are essential characteristics for college administrators.

Getting the Job

Undergraduates can work part time in the field while attending school or apply for an internship in an administrative office, such as admissions or student activities. This experience gives them an advantage when applying for an administrative position after graduation. In most colleges only a bachelor's degree is needed for an entry-level position, such as an admissions counselor or a recruiting officer.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement from entry-level positions depends on the size and organization of the administrative office. In smaller offices an assistant can become director after completing a graduate degree. In larger offices an administrator can advance by specializing in one area, such as foreign student admissions or minority admissions. Administrators can also advance by starting out at a lesser- known college or junior college and then moving to a larger college or university.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, postsecondary education administrators held 132,000 jobs in 2004. Employment of college/university administrators was projected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2014. Growth will likely be seen in schools that offer continuing education for adults who want to earn a degree or receive training for work. However, job availability will depend on the enrollment and financial status of individual colleges and universities.

Working Conditions

College campuses provide a pleasant setting in which to work. Administrative offices are usually large and comfortable. Unlike many who work in academics, many administrators work a twelve-month schedule and may work long hours during certain periods, such as the beginning of each semester or quarter. Some administrators, such as admissions director and dean of students, may also work some evenings and weekends. Administrators often travel to professional conferences or to other colleges. College/university administrators must have leadership skills, patience and tact in dealing with staff and students, and the ability to handle diverse personalities and unexpected situations.

Where to Go for More Information

American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers
1 Dupont Circle NW, Ste. 520
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 293-9161

American Association of University Administrators
National Office
Roberts Hall 407
Rhode Island College
Providence, RI 02908-1991
(401) 456-2808

College and University Professional Association for Human Resources
2607 Kingston Pike, Ste. 250
Knoxville, TN 37919
(865) 637-7673

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries for administrators vary widely between public and private institutions and between two- and four-year schools. Earnings also vary between administrative positions. According to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources—as noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics—registrars earned a median annual salary of $61,953 in 2004. Financial aid directors brought in a median annual salary of $63,130 in 2004, dean of students made $75,245, and chief development officers made $114,400. Benefits usually include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and retirement plans and contributions.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEducation & Training