How to Become a

College Administrator

The complete career guide to be a College Administrator: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $102,610
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 8.7%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

College administrators assist students, faculty, and staff in performing tasks. They may work in any college office or department, and the responsibilities vary by department. They may help students apply for financial aid, assist professors with research, or oversee and create campus publications.


What is a College Administrator?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in college administrator roles:

  • Manage student records, files, and transcripts
  • Assist students in applying for financial aid, work with federal and state agencies to ensure application processing, establish payment plans, and manage student billing
  • Assist professors and department heads in planning course schedules, preparing materials for classes, and organizing department events
  • Assist students in career planning, train students in job acquisition strategies like interviewing, resume-writing, and networking, and help students find internships and jobs
  • Create, edit, and publish college publications, brochures, marketing materials, and communications

A Day in the Life of a College Administrator

College administrators can work in a variety of departments within a college or university, and the day-to-day responsibilities of the administrator will vary greatly depending on department. Administrators work in college bursar departments collecting payments and setting up payment plans, in the office of the registrar where they orchestrate class scheduling and manage student records and transcripts, or the in career services where they assist students in finding jobs.

Administrators may also work in more senior-level education positions like provost, department head, or dean. These roles are more focused on educational programming and managing schools at a level that’s higher than day-to-day student affairs. Provosts may work alongside the president of the college and assist with hiring decisions, tenure determinations, and promotions. Deans oversee a specific department within the college and are in charge of hiring staff and professors for that department.

Other forms of college administrators are focused on varying needs of the school. Some may oversee athletic departments, some may coordinate student housing, and some may work in research departments. In large colleges and universities, each of these departments is a separate entity with separate administrators working in each, but in smaller colleges and junior colleges, administrators may oversee multiple departments and programs.

Typical Work Schedule for College Administrators

College administrators generally work normal business hours. Because classes are offered over the summer, they work year-round and are off only for major breaks when no classes are in session. While they may occasionally need to work evenings or weekends, overtime and abnormal hours are rare.

Projected Job Growth for College Administrators

As more professional jobs are starting to require postsecondary degrees, enrollments in colleges and universities have increased. For this reason, it’s expected that demand for college administrators will grow in the coming decade.

College Administrator Specializations

College administrators may work in any number of departments that oversee student affairs. They may work in the registrar’s office, the office of the bursar, admissions, career services, or financial aid. They may also serve in leadership roles for individual educational departments in department head, dean, or coordinator positions. Finally, some school administrators oversee special programs for colleges, such as an athletic program or a research department.

Typical Employers

The most common employers for college administrators are public and private colleges, universities, and community or technical colleges.


How To Become a College Administrator

For positions as a college administrator in student affairs departments, a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience may be sufficient. Many students earn experience by taking on internships or work-study roles in desired departments, and are able to secure full-time positions in those departments after graduating. Full-time roles for new graduates are usually entry-level positions, and students must work their way up to administrator roles after many years of successful service with a school.

While a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient in some cases, students should keep in mind that colleges are educational institutions and are likely to favor hiring individuals with graduate degrees. A master’s degree in a field of business, education, or administration combined with experience can help student affairs administrators get an edge on the competition when applying for open positions.

For administrative positions like department head, dean, or coordinator, a master’s degree will certainly be required, and most positions will be seeking individuals with doctoral degrees. Most individuals in these administrative positions started off as tenured professors, and most tenure positions require a Ph.D. After working as a professor in your department for many years, you may qualify for open leadership administrative positions.


College Administrator Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$65,410

Average

$102,610

High Range

$174,280

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$31/hr

Average

$49/hr

High Range

$84/hr

How do College Administrator salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, College Administrator's can make an average annual salary of $102,610, or $49 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $65,410 or $31 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #62 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally


Highest Education Among College Administrators

  • 13.2%   Doctorate
  • 44.8%   Masters
  • 23.5%   Bachelors
  • 5%   Associates
  • 8%   College
  • 4.6%   High School
  • 0.7%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

175,100

2024 Est. Jobs

190,300

Job Growth Rate

8.7%

Est. New Jobs

15,200

How does College Administrator job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 15,200 jobs for a total of 190,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 8.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #256 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally


What Companies Employ The Most College Administrators

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; private 73,600 9,900 10%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 56,100 2,200 2%
Junior colleges; local 11,300 1,600 2%

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