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College Student Personnel Worker Job Description, Career as a College Student Personnel Worker, Salary, Employment

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

Education and Training College

Salary Median—$45,636 to $75,245 per year

Employment Outlook Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

College student personnel workers, a group that can include dozens of employees, make sure that school policies are carried out and that students understand how those policies affect their education. Through daily interaction, they gather student opinion and interpret it for top administrators. They also coordinate and supervise departments that provide extracurricular activities.

Workers and their roles vary by school. Deans of students, for example, usually supervise the administrative staff and assist college presidents in planning policies. They also determine how policies, both academic and nonacademic, are working and whether they need to be altered or explained and implemented in more effective ways. College admissions officers evaluate applicants to see if they will be admitted. Besides examining credentials, they determine if the school can meet the applicants' needs and if the applicants would add special talents and interests to the college community. Registrars keep records of all student grades and transcripts, while financial aid officers help students obtain scholarships and government loans.

Many personnel workers provide counseling. College placement workers help students determine their educational and career goals and, after graduation, place them in jobs. Sometimes they administer occupational interest tests and set up job fairs and interviews with corporate recruiters. Foreign student advisers help international students adjust to their new environment both academically and socially, while other counselors help students who are experiencing emotional difficulties.

Most colleges and universities have student centers that provide recreational activities. Center staff encourage and coordinate participation and often help students plan extracurricular programs.

Education and Training Requirements

College student personnel workers generally have at least bachelor's degrees. Courses in administration, educational psychology, and student personnel work can prove helpful. Workers with little or no experience usually start as assistants. People with graduate training in counseling or psychology generally work in counseling jobs. Higher administrative jobs often require doctorates as well as several years of experience in higher education.

A college admissions officer is a type of college student personnel worker who interviews applicants to the college and determines whether the college will admit them. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

Getting the Job

College placement offices may know about job openings. Professional associations and journals, private employment agencies, newspaper classified ads, and job sites on the Internet are other sources of employment leads.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Student personnel offices at large universities often have many staff members. With experience assistants may become department heads. With additional education they may qualify for such top-level jobs as dean of students or college president. College administrators sometimes go on to government posts.

Employment of college student personnel workers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all jobs through 2014. While some schools may have to reduce their staffs because of funding, other schools foresee increased enrollments that will require the same number or additional personnel to service students' needs. Some openings regularly occur when experienced workers retire or leave the field.

Working Conditions

College student personnel workers usually have comfortable offices. Their jobs involve regular contact with students, so they must enjoy working with people. Work can be stressful, especially when semesters begin and end. Most college student personnel workers are on the job at least forty hours per week. Top-level positions require many extra hours for consultations, meetings, and attendance at college functions. Some staff members combine their administrative duties with teaching.

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries vary by institution and specific job. In 2004 median salaries ranged from $45,636 for directors of student activities to $75,245 per year for deans of students. Registrars were paid $61,953, while financial aid officers earned $48,448.

Where to Go for More Information

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

American College Counseling Association
5999 Stevenson Ave.
Alexandria, VA 22304-3300
(800) 473-2329

National Association for College Admission Counseling
1631 Prince St.
Alexandria, VA 22314-2818
(703) 836-2222

National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
1129 Twentieth St. NW, Ste. 400
Washington, DC 20036-3453
(202) 785-0453

Benefits include vacations, health insurance, retirement plans, tuition wavers for dependents, and, at some schools, paid sabbaticals.

Additional topics

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