Salary and Wage Data
Are you a leader with
strong interpersonal and communication skills? Do you have the administrative
knowledge required to manage daily activities of schools? Then you might be
ready for a career as an education administrator.
Via the BLS* ...
Nature of the Work
Successful operation of
an educational institution requires competent administrators. Education
administrators provide instructional leadership and manage the day-to-day
activities in schools, preschools, day care centers, and colleges and
universities. They also direct the educational programs of businesses,
correctional institutions, museums, and job training and community service
organizations. (College presidents and school superintendents are covered in
the Handbook statement on general managers and top executives.)
administrators set educational standards and goals and establish the policies
and procedures required to achieve them. They also supervise managers, support
staff, teachers, counselors, librarians, coaches, and other employees. They
develop academic programs, monitor students’ educational progress, train and
motivate teachers and other staff, manage career counseling and other student
services, administer recordkeeping, prepare budgets, and perform many other
duties. They also handle relations with parents, prospective and current
students, employers, and the community. In a smaller organization such as a
small day care center, one administrator may handle all these functions. In
universities or large school systems, responsibilities are divided among many
administrators, each with a specific function.
administrators who manage elementary, middle, and secondary schools are called
principals. They set the academic tone and work actively with teachers to
develop and maintain high curriculum standards, formulate mission statements,
and establish performance goals and objectives. Principals confer with staff to
advise, explain, or answer procedural questions. They hire and evaluate
teachers and other staff. They visit classrooms, observe teaching methods,
review instructional objectives, and examine learning materials. Principals
must use clear, objective guidelines for teacher appraisals, because
principals’ pay often is based on performance ratings.
Principals also meet
with other administrators and students, parents, and representatives of
community organizations. Decision-making authority increasingly has shifted
from school district central offices to individual schools. School principals
have greater flexibility in setting school policies and goals, but when making
administrative decisions, they must pay attention to the concerns of parents,
teachers, and other members of the community.
Principals also are
responsible for preparing budgets and reports on various subjects, such as
finances, attendance and student performance. As school budgets become tighter,
many principals have become more involved in public relations and fundraising
to secure financial support for their schools from local businesses and the
Principals ensure that
students meet national, state, and local academic standards. Many principals
develop partnerships with local businesses and school-to-work transition
programs for students. Principals must be sensitive to the needs of a rising
number of non-English-speaking students and a culturally diverse student body.
In some areas, growing enrollments are a cause for concern, because they lead
to overcrowding at many schools. When addressing problems of inadequate resources,
administrators serve as advocates for the building of new schools or the repair
of existing ones. During the summer months, principals are responsible for
planning for the upcoming year, overseeing summer school, participating in
workshops for teachers and administrators, supervising building repairs and
improvements, and working to make sure that the school has adequate staff for
the upcoming school year.
Work environment. Education administrators hold leadership positions with significant responsibility.
Most find working with students extremely rewarding, but as the
responsibilities of administrators have increased in recent years, so has the
stress. Coordinating and interacting with faculty, parents, students, community
members, business leaders, and State and local policymakers can be fast paced
and stimulating, but also stressful and demanding. Principals and assistant
principals, whose duties include disciplining students, may find working with
difficult students challenging. They also are increasingly being held
accountable for their schools meeting State and Federal guidelines for student
performance and teacher qualifications.
About 35 percent of
education administrators worked more than 40 hours a week in 2008; they often
supervise school activities at night and on weekends. Most administrators work
year round, although some work only during the academic year.
Qualifications, and Advancement
administrators begin their careers as teachers and prepare for advancement into
education administration by completing a master’s or doctoral degree. Because
of the diversity of duties and levels of responsibility, educational
backgrounds and experience vary considerably among these workers.
Education and training. Principals, assistant principals, central office administrators, academic
deans, and preschool directors usually have held teaching positions before
moving into administration. Some teachers move directly into principal
positions; others first become assistant principals or gain experience in other
administrative jobs at either the school or district level in positions such as
department head, curriculum specialist, or subject matter advisor.
In most public schools,
principals, assistant principals, and school district administrators need a
master’s degree in education administration or educational leadership. Some
principals and central office administrators have a doctorate or specialized
degree in education administration. In private schools, some principals and
assistant principals hold only a bachelor’s degree, but the majority of
principals have a master’s or doctoral degree.
requirements for administrators of preschools and child care centers vary with
the setting of the program and the State of employment. Administrators who
oversee preschool programs in public schools often are required to have at
least a bachelor’s degree. Child care directors who supervise private programs
typically are not required to have a degree; however, most States require a
preschool education credential, which often includes some postsecondary
College and university
academic deans and chairpersons usually advance from professorships in their
departments, for which they need a master’s or doctoral degree; further
education is not typically necessary. Admissions, student affairs, and
financial aid directors and registrars sometimes start in related staff jobs
with bachelor’s degrees—any field usually is acceptable—and obtain advanced
degrees in college student affairs, counseling, or higher education
administration. A Ph.D. or Ed.D. usually is necessary for top student affairs
positions. Computer literacy and a background in accounting or statistics may
be assets in admissions, records, and financial work.
Advanced degrees in
higher education administration, educational leadership, and college student
affairs are offered in many colleges and universities. Education administration
degree programs include courses in school leadership, school law, school
finance and budgeting, curriculum development and evaluation, research design
and data analysis, community relations, politics in education, and counseling.
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the
Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) accredit programs designed
for elementary and secondary school administrators. Although completion of an
accredited program is not required, it may assist in fulfilling licensure
certification. Most states require principals to be licensed as school
administrators. License requirements vary by state, but nearly all states
require either a master’s degree or some other graduate-level training. Some
states also require candidates for licensure to pass a test. On-the-job
training, often with a mentor, is increasingly required or recommended for new
school leaders. Some states require administrators to take continuing education
courses to keep their license, thus ensuring that administrators have the most
up-to-date skills. The number and types of courses required to maintain
licensure vary by state. Principals in private schools are not subject to State
Nearly all states
require child care and preschool center directors to be licensed. Licensing
usually requires a number of years of experience or hours of coursework or
both. Sometimes, it requires a college degree. Often, directors also are
required to earn a general preschool education credential, such as the Child Development
Associate credential (CDA) sponsored by the Council for Professional
Recognition, or some other credential designed specifically for directors. One
credential designed specifically for directors is the National Administration
Credential, offered by the National Child Care Association. The credential
requires experience and training in child care center management.
There usually are no
licensing requirements for administrators at postsecondary institutions.
Other qualifications. To be considered for education administrator positions, workers must
first prove themselves in their current jobs. In evaluating candidates,
supervisors look for leadership, determination, confidence, innovativeness, and
motivation. The ability to make sound decisions and to organize and coordinate
work efficiently is essential. Because much of an administrator’s job involves
interacting with others, a person in such a position must have strong
interpersonal skills and be an effective communicator and motivator. Knowledge
of leadership principles and practices, gained through work experience and
formal education, is important. A familiarity with computer technology is a
necessity for many of these workers as computers are used to perform their
basic job duties and they may be responsible for coordinating technical
resources for students, teachers, and classrooms.
Advancement. Education administrators advance through promotion to higher level
administrative positions or by transferring to comparable positions at larger
schools or systems. They also may become superintendents of school systems or
presidents of educational institutions.
administrators held about 445,400 jobs in 2008. Of these, about 58,900 were
held by preschool or child care administrators, about 230,600 by elementary or
secondary school administrators, and 124,600 by postsecondary administrators.
The great majority—more than 81 percent—worked in public or private educational
institutions. Most of the remainder worked in child day care centers.
If you’re interested in a career as an education administrator, fill out the form on the right — you’ll be contacted by an admissions counselor at a school that offers degrees related to education administration.
*The following information comes from the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook
Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Teachers—Postsecondary
you would like to know more about what the BLS occupation wage data means and
how it is compiled, please click here.