Approximately 192,600 college administrators are employed in the United States. Administrators are needed all across the country to run colleges and universities. Job opportunities exist at public and private institutions, community colleges, and universities both large and small. In a smaller college, an administrator may run more than one department. There are more job openings for administrators in universities serving large student bodies. In 2018, about 79 percent of postsecondary education administrators worked for colleges, universities, and professional schools and about 13 percent worked for junior colleges, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
There are several different types of entry-level positions available in the typical college administrative office. If you can gain part-time work or an internship in admissions or another office while you are still in school, you will have a great advantage when seeking work in this field after graduation. Any other experience in an administrative or managerial position that involves working with people or with computerized data is also helpful. Entry-level positions often involve filing, data processing, and updating records or charts. You might also move into a position as an administrator after working as a college professor. Deans in colleges and universities have usually worked many years as tenured professors.
The department of human resources in most colleges and universities maintains a listing of job openings at the institution and will often advertise the positions nationally. The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com) is a newspaper with national job listings. The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) also maintains a job list at its Web site, http://www.cupahr.org.
Entry-level positions, which usually require only a bachelor's degree, include admissions counselors, who advise students regarding admissions requirements and decisions, and evaluators, who check high school transcripts and college transfer records to determine whether applying students may be admitted. Administrative assistants are hired for the offices of registrars, financial aid departments, and deans.
Advancement from any of these positions will depend on the manner in which an office is organized as well as how large it is. One may move up to assistant director or associate director, or, in a larger office, into any specialized divisions such as minority admissions, financial aid counseling, or disabled student services. Advancement also may come through transferring to other departments, schools, or systems.
Workshops and seminars are available through professional associations for those interested in staying informed and becoming more knowledgeable in the field, but it is highly unlikely that an office employee will gain the top administrative level without a graduate degree.
Tips for Entry
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Talk with college administrators about their careers. Ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.
Read the following journals to learn more about the field:
- College & University: https://www.aacrao.org/research-publications/quarterly-journals/college-university-journal
- Journal of Higher Education Management: http://www.aaua.org/journals/journals.htm
- Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice: http://www.naspa.org/publications/journals/journal-of-student-affairs-research-and-practice