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Career guide: Postsecondary education administrator

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
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If you are exploring career options and greatly enjoyed the intellectual stimulation, social connections and extracurricular activities of your undergraduate experience, then you may want to consider becoming a postsecondary education administrator. In this fulfilling role, you can help create unforgettable, character-building college experiences for the students of the future, while benefiting from competitive pay and valuable professional development experiences. 

Read on to learn more about becoming a postsecondary education administrator:

What do postsecondary education administrators do?
Postsecondary education administrators are responsible for helping - and often leading - the development of a university, college or technical school's academic programs, extracurricular offerings, student services, admissions processes, fundraising efforts and more. These professionals may work in several different areas of school operations, or they may specialize their efforts in particular areas, such as student life or the office of the registrar, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted. The efforts of postsecondary education administrators go toward creating a positive, formative and beneficial higher-education experience for students, which can make this career very rewarding. 

college Postsecondary education administrators help create enriching undergraduate experiences for students.

How do you become a postsecondary administrator?
Postsecondary administrators often complete both a bachelor's and master's degree, and some may even have received a Ph.D. In terms of which area to study for a master's degree, many professionals opt to study information science, higher education administration or counseling. Employers largely look for candidates who have studied in areas specifically related to administration, as opposed to a general education degree. 

In addition to a master's degree, personal experience is very important, and employers at colleges and universities will look for applicants who have applied their skills in real-world settings. Many senior-level administrators, in fact, work their way up from entry-level college administration jobs. These types of jobs include entry-level roles at admissions and registrar offices as well as working as a tutor at a school's learning center. You could also seek out internships at organizations that work in cooperation with higher education, such as those that help students prepare for college or national or regional chapters of academic or extracurricular honors programs or membership clubs. Working as a Teaching Assistant Consultant is also a good way to gather experience - for example, the University of California, Davis runs a Teaching Assistant Consultants Program in which participants "gain valuable skills and experience by developing peer-facilitated programs and services for UC Davis TAs and AIs [Assistant Instructors]," with the aim of improving undergraduate education at the school. 

What skills are important for postsecondary education administrators to have?
Postsecondary education administrators should be driven, ambitious professionals that believe the sky's the limit when it comes to improving higher education. They should be effective communicators who are able to powerfully convey to others the benefits of the programs and services they are developing, as well as to be able to successfully coordinate action among a university's many stakeholders. They should also be highly detailed-oriented and able to juggle multiple tasks at once. 

"Undergraduate enrollment in the U.S. is expected to increase to 19.3 million students by 2026."

Career outlook for postsecondary administrators
The career outlook for college and university administrators is strong. Higher education attendance is up, with undergraduate enrollment in the U.S. expected to increase to 19.3 million students by 2026, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, and there will need to be more administrators to accommodate this surge. 

In addition, The College Board noted that many new positions will open up as current administrators retire. Between 2014 and 2024, the BLS forecasts that postsecondary education administrator employment will experience faster-than-average growth of 9 percent between 2014 and 2024. 

This career role can also command high salaries. Postsecondary administrator was named by Business Insider as one of the top 11 highest-paying jobs that require a master's degree, garnering a median annual wage in 2015 of $88,580. 

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