Postsecondary Education Administrators

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What Postsecondary Education Administrators Do[About this section] [To Top]

Postsecondary education administrators oversee student services, academics, and faculty research at colleges and universities. Their job duties vary depending on the area of the college they manage, such as admissions, the office of the registrar, or student affairs.

Duties of Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators who work in admissions decide if potential students should be admitted to the school. They typically do the following:

  • Determine how many students to admit to the school
  • Meet with prospective students and encourage them to apply
  • Review applications to determine if each potential student should be admitted
  • Analyze data about applicants and admitted students
  • Prepare promotional materials about the school

Many admissions counselors are assigned a region of the country and travel to that region to speak to high school counselors and students.

Admissions officers often work with the financial aid department, which helps students determine if they are able to afford tuition and creates packages of federal and institutional financial aid, if necessary.

Postsecondary education administrators who work in the registrar’s office, sometimes called registrars, maintain student and course records. They typically do the following:

  • Schedule and register students for classes
  • Schedule space and times for classes
  • Ensure that students meet graduation requirements
  • Plan commencement ceremonies
  • Prepare transcripts and diplomas for students
  • Produce data about students and classes
  • Maintain the academic records of the institution

Registrars have different duties throughout the school year. Before students register for classes, registrars must prepare schedules and course offerings. During registration and for the beginning of the semester, they help students sign up for, drop, and add courses. Toward the end of the semester, they plan graduation and ensure that students meet the requirements to graduate. Registrars need computer skills to create and maintain databases.

Postsecondary education administrators who work in student affairs are responsible for a variety of cocurricular school functions, such as student athletics and activities. They typically do the following:

  • Advise students on topics such as housing issues, personal problems, or academics
  • Communicate with parents or guardians
  • Create, support, and assess nonacademic programs for students
  • Schedule programs and services, such as athletic events or recreational activities

Postsecondary education administrators in student affairs can specialize in student activities, housing and residential life, or multicultural affairs. In student activities, they plan events and advise student clubs and organizations. In housing and residential life, they assign students rooms and roommates, ensure that residential facilities are well maintained, and train student workers, such as residential advisers. Education administrators who specialize in multicultural affairs plan events to celebrate different cultures and diverse backgrounds. Sometimes, they manage multicultural centers on campus.

Postsecondary education administrators can be provosts or academic deans. Provosts, also called chief academic officers, help college presidents develop academic policies, participate in making faculty appointments and tenure decisions, and manage budgets. Academic deans direct and coordinate the activities of the individual colleges or schools. For example, in a large university, a dean may oversee the law school.

Education administrators’ duties depend on the size of their college or university. Small schools often have smaller staffs who take on many different responsibilities, but larger schools may have different offices for each of these functions. For example, at a small college, the Office of Student Life may oversee student athletics and other activities, whereas a large university may have an Athletics Department.

Work Environment for Postsecondary Education Administrators[About this section] [To Top]

Postsecondary education administrators hold about 175,100 jobs. Some work for public schools, and others work for private schools.

About 75 percent of postsecondary education administrators work for colleges, universities, and professional schools. About 15 percent work for junior colleges.

Postsecondary Education Administrator Work Schedules

Postsecondary education administrators generally work full time. Most work year-round, but some administrators may reduce their hours during the summer.

How to Become a Postsecondary Education Administrator[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Postsecondary Education Administrators near you!

Although a bachelor’s degree may be acceptable for some entry-level positions, a master’s or higher degree is often required. Employers often want candidates who have experience working in the field, particularly for occupations such as registrars and academic deans.

Postsecondary Education Administrator Education

Educational requirements vary for different positions. A bachelor’s degree may be sufficient, but a master’s degree or Ph.D. is generally required. Degrees can be in a variety of disciplines, such as social work, accounting, or marketing.

Provosts and deans often must have a Ph.D. Some provosts and deans begin their career as professors and later move into administration. These administrators have doctorates in the field in which they taught. Other provosts and deans have a Ph.D. in higher education or a related field.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Employers typically prefer to hire candidates who have several years of experience in a college administrative setting. Some postsecondary education administrators work in the registrar’s office or as a resident assistant while in college to gain the necessary experience. For other positions, such as those in admissions and student affairs, experience may or may not be necessary.

Important Qualities for Postsecondary Education Administrators

Computer skills. Postsecondary education administrators often need to be adept at working with computers so they can create and maintain databases and use computer programs to manage student and school records.

Interpersonal skills. Postsecondary education administrators need to build good relationships with colleagues, students, and parents. Those in admissions and student affairs need to be outgoing so they can encourage prospective students to apply to the school and existing students to participate in cocurricular activities.

Organizational skills. Administrators need to be organized so they can manage records, prioritize tasks, and coordinate the activities with their staff.

Problem-solving skills. Administrators often need to respond to difficult situations, develop creative solutions to problems, and react calmly when problems arise.

Advancement for Postsecondary Education Administrators

Education administrators with advanced degrees can be promoted to higher level positions within their department or the college. Some become college presidents, an occupation which is discussed in the profile on top executives.

Postsecondary Education Administrator Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for postsecondary education administrators is $88,580. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $50,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $174,280.

The median annual wage in colleges, universities, and professional schools, the industry that employ the most postsecondary education administrators, was $91,090. The median annual wage in junior colleges, the second largest industry, was $83,270.

Postsecondary education administrators generally work full time. Most work year-round, but some schools may reduce their hours during the summer.

As part of their employee benefits plan, many colleges and universities allow full-time employees to attend classes for a discount or for free.

Job Outlook for Postsecondary Education Administrators[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of postsecondary education administrators is projected to grow 9 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. Expected growth is due to increases in enrollments.

People will continue to seek postsecondary education to accomplish their career goals. As more people enter colleges and universities, more postsecondary education administrators will be needed to serve the needs of these additional students.

Additional admissions officers will be needed to process students’ applications. More registrars will be needed to register students for classes and ensure that they meet graduation requirements. More student affairs workers will be needed to make housing assignments and plan events for students.

Despite expected increases in enrollment, employment growth in public colleges and universities will depend on state and local government budgets. When state and local governments reduce budgets for higher education, postsecondary institutions may lay off employees, including administrators. As a result, employment growth may be somewhat limited by state and local government budget constraints.

Enrollment is expected to decrease in online colleges and universities. As a result, there will be less demand for postsecondary education administrators in these types of schools.

Postsecondary Education Administrators Job Prospects

Job prospects will be best for candidates who have experience working in higher education and for those with a master’s degree

Employment projections data for Postsecondary Education Administrators, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Education administrators, postsecondary 175,100 190,300 9 15,200


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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