College Administrators


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A good, well-rounded education is important for anyone pursuing top administrative positions. To prepare for a job in college administration, take accounting and math courses, as you may be dealing with financial records and student statistics. To be a dean of a college, you must have good communication skills, so you should take courses in English literature and composition. Also, speech courses are important, as you'll be required to give presentations and represent your department at meetings and conferences. Follow your school counselor's college preparatory plan, which will likely include courses in science, economics, foreign language, history, and sociology.

Postsecondary Training

Education requirements for jobs in college administration depend on the size of the school and the job position. Some assistant positions may not require anything more than a few years of experience in an office. For most jobs in college administration, however, you will need at least a bachelor's degree. For the top administrative positions, you will need a master's or a doctorate. A bachelor's degree in any field is usually acceptable for pursuing this career. After you have received your bachelor's, you may choose to pursue a master's in student personnel, administration, or subjects such as economics, psychology, and sociology. Other important studies include education, counseling, information processing, business, and finance. In order to become a college dean, you will need a doctoral degree and many years of experience with a college or university. Your degree may be in your area of study or in college administration.

Other Education or Training

Many professional associations provide continuing education (CE) opportunities to college administrators. For example, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers offers webinars and online courses such as Registrar 101, Admissions Counselor/Recruiter 101, and Managing the Admissions Officer. The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources offers a variety of CE opportunities, including a Boot Camp that features modules on diversity, human resources, labor law, and other topics. NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education offers webinars, workshops, and other learning opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

No certification or licensing is available for college administrators.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Several years of experience in lower-level administrative positions or as a college professor are required to become eligible for top positions such as dean of students or director of financial aid.

As a college administrator, you should be very organized and able to manage a busy office of assistants. Some offices require more organization than others; for example, a financial aid office handles the records and aid disbursement for the entire student body and requires a director with an eye for efficiency and the ability to keep track of all the various sources of student funding. As a dean, however, you will work in a smaller office, concentrating more on issues concerning faculty and committees. You will also rely on your diplomatic skills for maintaining an efficient and successful department. People skills are valuable for college deans, as you will be representing your department both within the university and at national conferences.

Whatever the administrative position, it is important to have patience and tact to handle a wide range of personalities as well as an emotional steadiness when confronted with unusual and unexpected situations.