Postsecondary Education Administrators

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Postsecondary education administrators oversee student services, academics, and faculty research at colleges and universities.

Work Environment: Postsecondary education administrators work for public and private schools. Most work full time.

How to Become One: Postsecondary education administrators typically need a master’s degree. However, there will be some opportunities for those with a bachelor’s degree. Employers typically prefer to hire candidates who have experience working in a postsecondary education administrative office, especially for occupations such as registrars and academic deans.

Salary: The median annual wage for postsecondary education administrators is $96,910.

Job Outlook: Employment of postsecondary education administrators is projected to grow 8 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of postsecondary education administrators with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a postsecondary education administrator with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

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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, student affairs, or the registrar's office.

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 may work with the financial aid department to offer packages of federal and institutional financial aid to prospective students.

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 residential advisers. In multicultural affairs, they 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. They also oversee faculty research at colleges and universities. 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 190,500 jobs. The largest employers of postsecondary education administrators are as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 79%
Junior colleges; state, local, and private 13%

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!

Postsecondary education administrators typically need at least a master's degree. Employers typically prefer candidates who have experience working in the field, particularly for occupations such as registrars and academic deans.

Education for Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators typically need at least a master's degree. However, at smaller colleges or community college, a bachelor's degree may be sufficient. 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 careers 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 for Postsecondary Education Administrators

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 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 $96,910. 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 $59,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $190,770.

The median annual wages for postsecondary education administrators in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $98,180
Junior colleges; state, local, and private $94,120

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

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

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

Employment of postsecondary education administrators is projected to grow 8 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 14,500 openings for postsecondary education administrators are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Postsecondary Education Administrators

Employment growth in the occupation is tied to student enrollments at colleges and universities.

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. Registrars will be needed to direct student registration for classes and ensure that they meet graduation requirements. Student affairs workers will be needed to make housing assignments and plan events for students.

Provosts and academic dean positions will be limited, since there is typically a set number of these positions per institution.

Despite expected increases in enrollment, employment growth in public colleges and universities will depend on state and local government budgets. If there is a budget deficit, postsecondary institutions may lay off employees, including administrators. If there is a budget surplus, postsecondary institutions may hire more employees.

Employment projections data for Postsecondary Education Administrators, 2020-30
Occupational Title Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30
Percent Numeric
Education administrators, postsecondary 178,800 192,200 8 13,400


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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