How to Become a College President

How to Become a College PresidentThe college president is the leader of a community college or university. The president oversees the academic administrators who run the various departments throughout the university, and makes important decisions regarding the university’s mission, budget and curriculum. Most presidents work with a Board of Trustees or a governing body to help institute policies and plans throughout their tenure within the university. If you aspire to be a college president, you should work hard not only in your studies but also throughout your career to diversify your work experience and gain leadership opportunities.

Earn a Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Degree
$101,250
Doctoral

None
2,136,900
5%
97,000
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

As the top figure in an academic institution, a college president must have a thorough understanding of the educational experience that is taking place on the campus. A future college president can earn a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree in any field they are interested in, as they will likely be spending the first portion of their career working as a professor, completing research and working directly with students. Online education options are perfect for aspiring academic leaders who are working on personal research and resume-building activities while also trying to complete their education.

Begin a Career in Higher Education

According to a report released by Hill College, a college president should begin their career in higher education. The best candidates for this elite position have a successful track record in creating groundbreaking research while also taking the time necessary to devote to students who are studying in their respective fields. If a candidate is interested in pursuing a career in a community college, it is best to start in this setting. Those who are interested in working at a college or university should strive to become a professor at a similar campus.

Take on Leadership Roles and Work to Stand Out as a Candidate

A college president has to have a diversified resume, one that includes a number of professional accomplishments. If you want to be a college president one day, a university is going to look to see if you have worked with organizations both on and off campus, volunteered your time and truly achieved great things in your respective field. Start looking for leadership opportunities early on in your career, and expand within those organizations that interest you.

Seek an Executive Leadership Position at a College or University

After years of working as a professor, you will want to seek an administrative position within a college or university. This position will help you understand what it takes to operate a university on the executive level, as well as help you develop the skills and understanding you need in order to handle the top job. Academic positions that future presidents may strive to obtain include provost, associate dean of student services or associate dean of admissions, to name a few.

Search for Openings Across the United States

There are hundreds of college and universities across the country, but there is only one presidential position at each one. This means there are a limited number of jobs available, and many aspiring college presidents have to conduct a nationwide search for openings. Network within your own institution, but also keep an eye out for positions in other parts of the country that may become available.

As the top leader in an academic community, a college president’s salary is typically generous. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a postsecondary education administrator makes about $83,000 per year. However, most college presidents make more than this average salary because of the position that they hold within the university. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this field will have significant growth throughout the next decade, with a growth rate of about 19 percent projected.

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