Becoming an Education Administrator: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of an education administrator career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming an education administrator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of an Education Administrator Career

Education administrators are in charge of the daily operations of schools, pre-schools, day care centers, universities and colleges. Look at the pros and cons listed below to find out if a career as an education administrator is right for you.

Pros of Becoming an Education Administrator
Job prospects are good for postsecondary education administrators due to more people needing additional education to meet career goals*
Working with students can be rewarding*
Employment growth for preschool and child care directors will be faster than average (17% job growth expected through 2022)*
Perform a variety of tasks on a daily basis (establish policies, assist teachers, manage finances, etc.)*

Cons of Becoming an Education Administrator
Many jobs require extensive education (master's degree are often required)*
Can be a high-stress job (dealing with problem students, balancing budget, helping struggling teachers, meeting with parents, etc.)*
Licensing is commonly required for principals and child care program administrators*
Often required to attend activities in the evenings and on weekends*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Education administrators perform a variety of duties on a day-to-day basis. They manage academic activities, create and maintain policies and procedures, work on budgets and supervise staff. They must also keep track of the educational development of students and act as a motivator for the teaching staff. Administrators face many challenges, including dealing with difficult students and adhering to strict government regulations.

Career Paths

Education administration is a broad field, so you can choose a specific career path from a variety of options. Principals work in elementary, middle and secondary schools, developing criteria for the curriculum, meeting with parents and students, evaluating teachers and handling budgetary issues. Some administrators in the elementary and secondary school system work in school district offices coordinating a specific division, such as music, special education or English. Preschool and child care program administrators hire staff, coordinate day-to-day activities and work to make sure the program meets all of the necessary educational standards.

If you're interested in working in a college or university, you may take on one of many roles, depending on your education and background. Some administrative job titles at the university level include provost, department head, vice president of student affairs and director of financial aid. If you work in one of these positions, you oversee the various administrative activities of your department.

Salary Info and Job Prospects

The salary for education administrators varies, depending on whether you work for a preschool, elementary or postsecondary school. For administrators working in preschools or child care facilities, the mean annual salary in May 2014 was over $52,190, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Those working in elementary and secondary schools as well as postsecondary schools earned a significantly higher amount, with annual mean salaries of $91,780 and $101,910, respectively. Many employers also offer generous benefits packages, and universities often give employees and their family members free or discounted tuition.

Employment for elementary, middle and high school principals is expected to grow at a slower-than-average rate of six percent between 2012 and 2022. Employment of child care and preschool directors is expected to grow at the faster-than-average rate of 17 percent. If you live in the western or southern United States, you might be in the best shape to find a job in the field due to an increasing population in these regions.

Employment in postsecondary administration is also expected to rise faster than average between 2012 and 2022, at 15 percent. The growth is driven by an increase in postsecondary school enrollment as more working people return to school to advance their careers. However, the availability of jobs can vary by state based on state funding to postsecondary schools.

Requirements and Skills

Education Requirements

Most education administrators are former teachers. Although some teachers are given the opportunity to work in administrative positions without additional education, many public school jobs require a master's degree in education administration. It is also common for principals to hold doctoral degrees, and in some states, public school principals must also pass an exam to be certified. Most higher education administrators hold a master's or doctoral degree.

If you want to work in a preschool or child care facility, you'll likely only need a bachelor's degree and a state-issued license. Some states require a bachelor's degree for licensure, while others base it on the number of years you have worked with children or how many hours of education you have. You might also be required to obtain certain credentials offered by the Council for Professional Recognition, which awards the Child Development Associate (CDA) designation, and the National Child Care Association (NCCA).

Other Skills

Based on information from the BLS and job postings on CareerBuilder.com, you must have keen organizational skills in order to juggle the numerous tasks you must perform in a typical day as an education administrator. Excellent communication skills are also necessary because you must regularly motivate and interact with students, teachers, parents and community members. Leadership and decision-making abilities, as well as knowledge of computers, are other important skills for administrators.

Real Job Postings from Employers

The most common requirement for elementary and secondary education administrators is a master's degree, while jobs in child care often require a license. Job postings typically also ask for candidates with teaching experience, various certifications and credentials (based on state requirements), leadership experience and communication skills. The following are a few examples of actual job postings that were available in March 2012:

  • An elementary school in Ohio advertised for a certified principal with three years of teaching experience and a master's degree in education administration. Leadership and communication skills as well as an enthusiastic attitude were listed as requirements.
  • A child care center in Florida was seeking a co-director with a bachelor's degree, three to five years of experience in child care and proper state-required credentials. This employer also preferred candidates with management experience.
  • A community college in Tennessee was looking for an assistant vice president for academic affairs. This position required a master's or doctoral degree in a field of study taught at the school. The employer wanted someone with strong leadership, communication and decision-making skills, as well as experience as a department chair.
  • A school district in Pennsylvania advertised for a director of special education with a master's degree in educational leadership or special education. The job required five years of administrative experience as well as knowledge of learning disabilities, mental health services and special education laws.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Joining a professional association, such as the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), can be a good way to stand out in the education administration field. Not only does the AASA give you opportunities to interact with other administrators, it also offers professional development conferences and seminars on a variety of topics. With the exception of Hawaii, every state has its own local chapter of the association, offering a variety of learning programs. Attending these events can be a great opportunity and will stand out on a resume. Online courses and virtual seminars are also available if you can't fit the on-site events into your schedule.

If you decide to work in child care administration, you might want to seek out credentials offered by various child care associations. These are sometimes required, depending on your state, but obtaining them can also be a great way to show potential clients or employers that you've taken the time to expand your knowledge of the field. One such distinction is the National Administrator's Credential offered by the National Institute of Child Care Management. To receive the credential you must complete classes on budget management, child development and leadership.

Other Career Options

If you want to work in the education field, but aren't sure that working as an administrator is right for you, another option to consider is a career as an instructional coordinator. People in this position observe classroom activities and analyze teaching methods in order to ensure the success of the curriculum. They also choose books and other educational materials and provide training to teachers. The BLS projected that the number of jobs in this field would grow by 20% between 2010 and 2020.

Another option to consider might be a job as a school counselor, especially if you like the idea of working directly with students. While you are unlikely to earn as much as a secondary or postsecondary education administrator, the job can be deeply gratifying on a personal level. School counselors get to help students identify their personality traits, interests and abilities. They also work with students who have family, personal, behavioral or learning problems and evaluate possible domestic abuse situations. According to the BLS, the annual mean salary of elementary and secondary school counselors in May 2011 was $63,000.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Educational Leadership and Administration
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Educational Technology Leadership
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Higher Education - College Admin./Leadership
      • Master: Higher Education - Student Affairs
      • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)
      • Master: Higher Education - College Teaching/Learning
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Queens University of Charlotte

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Leadership Studies
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Psychology
      • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership - Behavioral Health
      • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership - Higher Education Leadership
      • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership in - K-12 Leadership
      • EdS in K-12 Leadership
    Master's
      • M.Ed. in Educational Administration
      • M.Ed. in Educational Leadership
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
      • M.Ed. in Elementary Education
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Educational Studies (Does Not Lead to Teacher Licensure)
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
      • B.S. in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Christian Education
  • Online Programs Available
    7. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Instructional Design and Learning Analytics
  • Campus and Online Programs
    8. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Instructional Design and Technology
    Certificate
      • Cert - Instructional Design and Technology
  • Philadelphia, PA

    University of Pennsylvania

  • Nashville, TN

    Vanderbilt University

Featured Schools

The George Washington University

  • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Educational Leadership and Administration
  • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Educational Technology Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • Master: Higher Education - College Admin./Leadership
  • Master: Higher Education - Student Affairs
  • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)

Which subject are you interested in?

Queens University of Charlotte

  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership

What is your highest level of education completed?

Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Leadership Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

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Grand Canyon University

  • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership - Behavioral Health
  • M.Ed. in Educational Administration
  • B.S. in Educational Studies (Does Not Lead to Teacher Licensure)

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Instructional Design and Learning Analytics

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • MS - Instructional Design and Technology
  • Cert - Instructional Design and Technology

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