Successful operation of an educational institution requires competent administrators. People seeking education careers as administrators provide instructional leadership and manage day-to-day activities in schools, preschools, day care centers, colleges, and universities.

Working in admissions, finance, data management, examinations, and human resources, their tasks can include the following:

  • Assisting with recruitment, public or alumni relations, or marketing activities
  • Administering student life, from registration or admission to graduation or withdrawal
  • Providing administrative support to teachers, committees, or boards
  • Drafting and interpreting regulations, dealing with queries and complaints, and enforcing discipline
  • Maintaining quality assurance, including course approval and evaluation
  • Using information systems to prepare reports and statistics for internal and external use
  • Helping plan policy
  • Managing budgets and ensuring that financial systems are followed
  • Purchasing goods and equipment and processing invoices
  • Supervising staff
  • Working with other administrators, academic colleagues, and students
  • Working with partner institutions, external agencies, government departments, and prospective students
  • Organizing and facilitating educational and social activities

Many administrative jobs require a master’s or doctoral degree and experience in a related occupation, such as teaching or counseling. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential, because much of an administrator’s job involves working and collaborating with others.

Assistant principals aid the principal in the overall administration of the school, ordering books and supplies and coordinating transportation, custodial, cafeteria, and other services. They handle discipline and attendance, social and recreational programs, and health and safety.

With the advent of site-based management, assistant principals play a greater role by helping to develop new curricula, evaluating teachers, and handling school-community relations.

Administrators in school district central offices oversee public schools under their jurisdiction. This group of administrators includes those who direct subject-area programs such as English, music, vocational education, special education, and mathematics. These administrators supervise instructional coordinators and curriculum specialists, evaluate curricula and teaching techniques, and develop programs and strategies to improve them.

In preschools and child care centers, which are usually much smaller than other educational institutions, the director or supervisor often serves as the sole administrator, overseeing the school’s daily operation, hiring and developing staff, and ensuring that the school meets required educational standards.

In colleges and universities, provosts assist presidents, make faculty appointments and tenure decisions, develop budgets, and establish academic policies and programs.

Fundraising is the chief responsibility of the director of development.

Department heads are in charge of departments specializing in particular fields (for example, English, biological science, or mathematics). In addition to teaching, they coordinate schedules of classes and teaching assignments; propose budgets; recruit, interview, and hire applicants for teaching positions; evaluate faculty members; and encourage faculty development.

Vice presidents of student affairs, deans of students, and directors of student services direct admissions, foreign student services, health and counseling services, career services, financial aid, and housing and residential life, as well as social and recreational programs.

Registrars maintain student records. They register students, record grades, prepare transcripts, and evaluate records.

Directors of admissions manage recruitment, evaluation, and admissions, working closely with financial aid directors, who oversee scholarship, fellowship, and loan programs.

Athletic directors plan and direct intramural and intercollegiate athletic activities, overseeing the publicity for athletic events, preparing budgets, and supervising coaches.

About 35 percent of education administrators work more than 40 hours a week; they often supervise school activities at night and on weekends. Most administrators work year round, although some work only during the academic year.

General administration requires training in business studies, education, English, information science/management, psychology, social administration, public administration, sociology, and/or statistics.

Typical starting salaries range from $30,000-$45,000. Excellent opportunities are expected for most jobs.