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College and University Administrators

At a Glance

  • Includes administrators, deans, alumni directors, and registrars
  • Regularly interact with students, faculty, and other administrators
  • May work long hours
  • Are responsible for work outcomes
  • Most have a master's degree and years of experience
  • Often attend campus events

Career summary

College and university administrators manage the business affairs and student services of colleges.

College and university administrators may also be called college presidents, deans, financial aid administrators, admissions administrators, provosts, registrars, and academic, alumni, athletic, or educational directors.

#This description is more detailed on the subject than wois 1136 Education Administrators, I added a few titles from the NWOIS narrative. Nothing else brought over.

#review 3/25/19 lh

College and university administrators perform a range of tasks. Administrators meet with students and faculty to address campus concerns. They make decisions on faculty tenure. Tenure is a status staff members can gain where they are given a permanent position at a college or university. Sometimes they meet with members of the local community as a representative of the college. They also coordinate student and faculty events. There are several different jobs within the administrative team. Administrators have specific duties that vary by job.

Presidents and provosts

Presidents and provosts set goals and priorities for a college. They create budgets and distribute funds to each department. In public schools, they work with state legislatures to get funding and to make sure they are meeting all legal requirements. They make sure buildings are in good shape and receive maintenance when needed.


Deans manage a specific college within a large university, such as the college of arts and sciences or the college of engineering. Deans also lead graduate schools and supervise student services administrators.

Department heads

Department heads are in charge of a specific department, such as math or business. They decide what courses are required to earn a degree in a major and what courses to offer each term. They help determine curriculum and may teach courses. They hire faculty and head their department's tenure committee. They develop budgets and write reports for top administrators. They may also meet with students because of academic misconduct.


Registrars maintain and update student records. They assemble course catalogs and schedules. They register students for classes. Registrars collect fees and tuition. They make sure students have completed all graduation requirements before they earn a degree.

Financial aid administrators

Financial aid administrators manage funds that help students pay for college. They coordinate grant, loan, and work-study awards. In large schools, financial aid administrators hire and supervise counselors who work with students.

Admissions administrators

Admissions administrators are in charge of recruiting new students. They determine the criteria to use for selecting new students. They work closely with financial aid administrators to help new students learn about scholarship, loan, and grant programs.

Alumni directors

Alumni directors organize and attend functions that are designed to raise funds from the school's graduates.

Athletic directors

Athletic directors manage sports and other recreational programs.

Related careers

This career is part of the Education and Training cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to college and university administrators.

Common work activities

College and university administrators perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, college and university administrators:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

College and university administrators frequently:

It is important for college and university administrators to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for college and university administrators to be able to:

Skills and abilities

College and university administrators need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a college or university administrator, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most college and university administrators have a master's degree in their field of academic interest. Academic deans need a PhD and many years of experience in their field. Smaller schools may hire administrators who have only a bachelor's degree. Some administrators have a degree in higher education administration.

College courses in educational supervision, higher education administration, and student services are helpful for this occupation.

Work experience

You must prove yourself in a related occupation, such as a university professor, before you can enter this occupation. You need several years of experience teaching at the college level or working for several years at the lower levels of administration.

Military training

The military does not provide initial training in this field. However, the military may provide work experience to administrators who have at least a bachelor's degree.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers look for managerial experience when hiring administrators. They also look for people who have at least a bachelor's degree. However, employers often prefer applicants who have a master's or doctoral degree (PhD). Some employers prefer applicants whose degree is in higher education administration.

Experience working with people or computers is extremely helpful.

Costs to workers

Many college and university administrators join a professional association after entering this field and may pay annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Education administrators, postsecondary (SOC 11-9033)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $29.63 $35.51 $44.38 $57.54 $80.69
Monthly $5,135 $6,154 $7,691 $9,972 $13,984
Yearly $61,630 $73,860 $92,320 $119,680 $167,830
    Bellingham Hourly $29.34 $34.84 $43.01 $56.96 $74.83
Monthly $5,085 $6,038 $7,454 $9,871 $12,968
Yearly $61,026 $72,479 $89,454 $118,485 $155,650
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $28.71 $34.67 $44.02 $52.42 $71.42
Monthly $4,975 $6,008 $7,629 $9,084 $12,377
Yearly $59,711 $72,113 $91,556 $109,029 $148,539
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $26.94 $30.10 $36.70 $47.77 $66.69
Monthly $4,669 $5,216 $6,360 $8,279 $11,557
Yearly $56,035 $62,609 $76,327 $99,352 $138,717
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $32.69 $38.95 $48.10 $64.85 $94.37
Monthly $5,665 $6,750 $8,336 $11,239 $16,354
Yearly $68,007 $81,007 $100,060 $134,901 $196,297
    Vancouver Hourly $27.36 $33.44 $44.05 $58.76 $76.86
Monthly $4,741 $5,795 $7,634 $10,183 $13,320
Yearly $56,905 $69,543 $91,610 $122,217 $159,880
    Yakima Hourly $28.63 $34.47 $44.50 $72.45 $101.04
Monthly $4,962 $5,974 $7,712 $12,556 $17,510
Yearly $59,564 $71,697 $92,551 $150,685 $210,162
United States Hourly $26.29 $33.46 $45.36 $63.63 $91.63
Monthly $4,556 $5,799 $7,861 $11,027 $15,879
Yearly $54,680 $69,600 $94,340 $132,350 $190,600

Earnings vary by the size and type of the educational institution. Four-year universities and colleges pay more than community colleges.

Benefits usually include paid vacations and holidays, health insurance, and tuition waivers for their families. Some administrators receive free housing, expense accounts for entertaining, and tickets to sporting events.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Education Administrators, Postsecondary (SOC 11-9033)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 2,111 16.3% 16.1% 237
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 29 17.2% 13.4% 3
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 123 2.4% 8.6% 9
    Benton and Franklin Counties 66 16.7% 15.0% 7
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 43 11.6% 11.9% 4
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 37 18.9% 15.2% 5
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 113 18.6% 14.1% 13
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 169 17.8% 14.6% 19
    King County 1,142 18.7% 19.6% 135
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 113 18.6% 13.8% 13
    Pierce County 104 16.3% 15.2% 12
    Snohomish County 100 19.0% 12.4% 12
    Spokane County 265 7.9% 13.9% 24
United States 192,600 7.0% 5.2% 16,800

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for college and university administrators will grow due to the growing number of students attending colleges and universities. More administrators will be needed to work in admissions and as registrars. Also, the increased number of online schools creates demand for administrators.

Career and technical schools will also create many job opportunities.

Job openings in public institutions will be dependent on state and local government budgets. Budget deficits will limit the number of employees at colleges and universities but a budget surplus may lead to an increase in employees. 

Openings will occur as people leave the occupation to retire. Prospects will be the best for those have prior experience working in higher education.

Other resources

American Association of University Administrators (external link)
10 Church Road
Wallingford, PA 19086
American Council on Education (external link)
One Dupont Circle NW
Washington, DC 20036
Chronicle of Higher Education (external link)
Higheredjobs Online (external link)
NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (external link)
111 K Street NE, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20002
National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (external link)
1029 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster