Postsecondary Education Administrators

Quick Facts: Postsecondary Teachers
2017 Median Pay $76,000 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education  
Work Experience in a Related Occupation  
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 1,314,400
Job Outlook, 2016-26 15% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 197,800

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Postsecondary Education Administrators Career, Salary, and Education Information

What Postsecondary Education Administrators Do

Postsecondary education administrators oversee student services, academics, and faculty research at colleges and universities. Their job duties vary depending on the area of the college they manage, such as admissions, student affairs, or the registrar’s office.

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Postsecondary Education Administrators

Duties of Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators who work in admissions decide if potential students should be admitted to the school. They typically do the following:

  • Determine how many students to admit to the school

  • Meet with prospective students and encourage them to apply

  • Review applications to determine if each potential student should be admitted

  • Analyze data about applicants and admitted students

  • Prepare promotional materials about the school

Many admissions counselors are assigned a region of the country and travel to that region to speak to high school counselors and students.

Admissions officers may work with the financial aid department to offer packages of federal and institutional financial aid to prospective students.

Postsecondary education administrators who work in the registrar’s office, sometimes called registrars, maintain student and course records. They typically do the following:

  • Schedule and register students for classes

  • Schedule space and times for classes

  • Ensure that students meet graduation requirements

  • Plan commencement ceremonies

  • Prepare transcripts and diplomas for students

  • Produce data about students and classes

  • Maintain the academic records of the institution

Registrars have different duties throughout the school year. Before students register for classes, registrars must prepare schedules and course offerings. During registration and for the beginning of the semester, they help students sign up for, drop, and add courses. Toward the end of the semester, they plan graduation and ensure that students meet the requirements to graduate. Registrars need computer skills to create and maintain databases.

Postsecondary education administrators who work in student affairs are responsible for a variety of cocurricular school functions, such as student athletics and activities. They typically do the following:

  • Advise students on topics such as housing issues, personal problems, or academics

  • Communicate with parents or guardians

  • Create, support, and assess nonacademic programs for students

  • Schedule programs and services, such as athletic events or recreational activities

Postsecondary education administrators in student affairs can specialize in student activities, housing and residential life, or multicultural affairs. In student activities, they plan events and advise student clubs and organizations. In housing and residential life, they assign students rooms and roommates, ensure that residential facilities are well maintained, and train residential advisers. In multicultural affairs, they plan events to celebrate different cultures and diverse backgrounds. Sometimes, they manage multicultural centers on campus.

Postsecondary education administrators can be provosts or academic deans. Provosts, also called chief academic officers, help college presidents develop academic policies, participate in making faculty appointments and tenure decisions, and manage budgets. They also oversee faculty research at colleges and universities. Academic deans direct and coordinate the activities of the individual colleges or schools. For example, in a large university, a dean may oversee the law school.

Education administrators’ duties depend on the size of their college or university. Small schools often have smaller staffs who take on many different responsibilities, but larger schools may have different offices for each of these functions. For example, at a small college, the Office of Student Life may oversee student athletics and other activities, whereas a large university may have an Athletics Department.

Work Environment for a Postsecondary Education Administrator

Postsecondary education administrators held about 180,100 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of postsecondary education administrators were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private: 79%

Junior colleges; state, local, and private: 14%

Work Schedules

Postsecondary education administrators generally work full time. Most work year-round, but some administrators may reduce their hours during the summer.

How to Become a Postsecondary Education Administrator

Postsecondary education administrators typically need at least a master’s degree. Employers typically prefer candidates who have experience working in the field, particularly for occupations such as registrars and academic deans.


Postsecondary education administrators typically need at least a master’s degree. However, at smaller colleges or community college, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient. Degrees can be in a variety of disciplines, such as social work, accounting, or marketing.

Provosts and deans often must have a Ph.D. Some provosts and deans begin their careers as professors and later move into administration. These administrators have doctorates in the field in which they taught. Other provosts and deans have a Ph.D. in higher education or a related field.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Employers typically prefer to hire candidates who have several years of experience in a college administrative setting. 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 not be necessary.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Postsecondary education administrators often need to be adept at working with computers so they can create and maintain databases and use 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 cocurricular activities.

Organizational skills. Administrators need to be organized so they can manage records, prioritize tasks, and coordinate the activities with their staff.

Problem-solving skills. Administrators often need to respond to difficult situations, develop creative solutions to problems, and react calmly when problems arise.


Education administrators with advanced degrees can be promoted to higher level positions within their department or the college. Some become college presidents, an occupation which is discussed in the profile on top executives.

Salaries for Postsecondary Education Administrators

The median annual wage for postsecondary education administrators was $92,360 in May 2017. 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 $52,960, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $182,150.


In May 2017, the median annual wages for postsecondary education administrators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private: $94,320

Junior colleges; state, local, and private: $87,520

As part of their employee benefits plan, many colleges and universities allow full-time employees to attend classes for a discount or for free. Postsecondary education administrators generally work full time. Most work year-round, but some schools may reduce their hours during the summer.

Job Outlook for Postsecondary Education Administrators

Employment of postsecondary education administrators is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected because of increasing student enrollment in colleges and universities.

People will continue to seek postsecondary education 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.

Provosts and academic dean positions will be limited, since there is typically a set number of these positions per institution.

Despite expected increases in enrollment, employment growth in public colleges and universities will depend on state and local government budgets. If there is a budget deficit, postsecondary institutions may lay off employees, including administrators. If there is a budget surplus, postsecondary institutions may hire more employees.

Job Prospects

Job prospects will be better for candidates who have prior experience working in higher education.

Employment projections data for Postsecondary Education Administrators, 2016-2026:

Employment, 2016: 180,100

Projected Employment, 2026: 198,300

Change, 2016-2026: +10%, +18,200

Careers Related to Postsecondary Education Administrators

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Human resources managers plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning; and serve as a link between an organization’s management and its employees.

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Public relations managers plan and direct the creation of material that will maintain or enhance the public image of their employer or client. Fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization.

Public Relations Specialists

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School and Career Counselors

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Training and Development Managers

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Administrative Services Managers Bachelor's degree $94,020
Human Resources Managers Bachelor's degree $110,120
Postsecondary Teachers See How to Become One $76,000
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers Bachelor's degree $111,280
Public Relations Specialists Bachelor's degree $59,300
School and Career Counselors Master's degree $55,410
Top Executives Bachelor's degree $104,700
Training and Development Managers Bachelor's degree $108,250
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals Master's degree $94,390


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Postsecondary Education Administrators, on the Internet at