Postsecondary education administrators held about 161,800 jobs in 2012.
Postsecondary education administrators work in colleges, universities, community colleges, and technical and trade schools. Some work for public schools, and others work for private schools.
In 2012, about 74 percent of postsecondary education administrators worked for colleges, universities, and professional schools and about 16 percent worked for junior colleges.
Postsecondary education administrators generally work full time. Most work year-round, but some administrators may reduce their hours during the summer.
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 such occupations as registrars and academic deans.
Educational requirements vary for different positions. For entry-level positions, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient. Degrees can be in a variety of disciplines, such as social work, accounting, or marketing.
For higher level positions, a master’s degree or Ph.D. is generally required. 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, such as English or chemistry. Other provosts and deans have a Ph.D. in higher education or a related field.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Employers often want candidates who have experience working in the field, particularly for such occupations as registrars and academic deans. For example, 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 depending on the position.
Many postsecondary education administrators, particularly those working in student affairs, were involved in student activities while they were attending college. For example, they may lead student organizations or participate in student government to gain the experience necessary to work in student affairs after graduating.
Education administrators with advanced degrees can be promoted to higher level positions within their department or the college. Some become college presidents, which is discussed in the profile on top executives.
Postsecondary education administrators typically have an interest in the Helping and Persuading interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people.
If you are not sure whether you have a Helping or Persuading interest which might fit with a career as a postsecondary education administrator, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Postsecondary education administrators should also possess the following specific qualities:
Computer skills. Registrars often need to be adept at working with computers so they can create and maintain databases and 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 co-curricular activities.
Organizational skills. Regardless of their field, administrators need to be organized so they can manage records, prioritize tasks, and coordinate the activities of their staff.
Problem-solving skills. Administrators often need to respond to difficult situations, develop creative solutions to problems, and react calmly when problems arise.
The median annual wage for postsecondary education administrators was $86,490 in May 2012. 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 $48,920, and the top 10 percent earned more than $168,330.
In May 2012, the median annual wage in colleges, universities, and professional schools, the industry that employed the most postsecondary education administrators, was $89,200. The median annual wage in junior colleges, the second largest industry, was $82,070.
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.
Employment of postsecondary education administrators is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Expected growth is due to increases in enrollments.
The number of people attending postsecondary school will increase as individuals seek additional education and skills 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.
In particular, significant increases in enrollment are expected in online colleges and universities. As a result, there will be more demand for postsecondary education administrators in these types of schools.
However, 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 have budget deficits, they may lay off employees, including administrators. As a result, employment growth may be somewhat slowed by state and local government budget deficits.
For more information on registrars or admissions counselors, visit
For more information about education administrators specializing in student affairs, visit