How to Become a College Administrator

HBEU07What does a college administrator do?

College administrators can be found behind the scenes in almost every department of a typical college or university. In the admissions department, the administrator is responsible for setting criteria for student enrollment, finding ways to attract the best students, and reviewing student applications. In the registrar’s office, the administrator registers students for classes and prepares transcripts and diplomas. College administrators can also be found overseeing university research projects, working as advisors, and staffing student-service centers.

While most schools have a nine-month calendar year, administrators work year round and can expect to earn, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an average of just over $83,000 annually. Demand for qualified administrators is expected to grow in the coming years because of increases in college attendance and expected retirements among university staff.

Is this career choice a good fit?
Master's Degree
1 to 5 years
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

College administrators need to have a very specific set of skills, of course, but they also need an outgoing, friendly personality and a sincere desire to help others. Here are a few of the qualifications you will need to succeed at this challenging job.

  • Computers are the lifeblood of every college. You will need strong computer skills to successfully complete your duties.
  • Students need guidance, both personally and academically. You must be the kind of person who likes to help others and can do so with a smile.
  • Details matter in a college setting. Whether they’re signing up for classes or applying for scholarships, every student’s future depends on careful record keeping and accurate filing procedures. A college administrator must be detail oriented.
  • Whenever human needs meet bureaucracy, there will be times when cookie-cutter solutions simply don’t work. To succeed while working in a college setting, you must be the type of person who thrives on the challenge of problem solving.

How to become a college administrator

If you have decided to start on your way to becoming a college administrator, here are some of the very specific steps you will need to take.

  • Before you register for college-level classes online or at a traditional university, you will need to earn your high school diploma. Some schools will also accept a general equivalency diploma or GED. Check with the school about their requirements before you sign up for classes.
  • Your next step is to earn your Bachelor’s Degree. Whether you choose an online college or a traditional one, make sure that the school offers appropriate degree programs. To become a college administrator, you will want to pursue a degree in business management, social work or even accounting. Computer classes are also a must.
  • Once you have your degree, you can apply directly to any college or university that has job openings in its registrar’s office or student affairs department. If you don’t get offered a job, you may want to fill out your resume with relevant work or volunteer experience. Any experience, whether paid or not, that has to do with computer work, word processing, academic writing, scheduling, interacting with the public or office management will increase your appeal to future employers.

What career advancements are available to college administrators?

Some entry-level college administration jobs only require a Bachelor’s Degree. If you want to advance your career, you may want to consider getting a Master’s Degree or your Doctorate. With the relevant work experience, you would then be qualified for higher-level administrative positions such as working as an academic dean or even as a college president. Relevant work experience could include entry-level administrative work, working as an office manager or experience as a teaching assistant.

The career field for college administrators is wide open. Complete our online contact form to receive more information about this fulfilling career choice.

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