Academic Advisor - Degree Requirements, Job and Salary Info

If you are considering a career as an academic advisor, it is essential to understand that their primary role is to help students choose education and career goals that are in line with their abilities and interests. Academic advisors assist students to decide on educational and career paths. It may also fall under this professional’s purview to help students add or drop classes and make scheduling decisions.

Academic advisors who excel in their profession are sometimes promoted to the position of Director of Advising in major colleges and universities.

Work Environment and Job Duties

Most academic advisors work in an office setting. Most frequently, these offices are found in high schools, community colleges and universities. The advising professional generally has private office space in which meetings with students and parents can be conducted confidentiality.

An academic advisor is expected to keep regular office hours throughout the school year. During these office hours, the advisor meets with students to design and achieve educational and career goals. Advisors should also be prepared for students who drop by without an appointment. During registration, the academic advisor is particularly busy, and office hours may be extended. Most advisors work on a nine to five basis, but at certain times of the year it is not uncommon for advisors to work on evenings and weekends.

At some schools, the role of the academic advisor takes on more of a marketing perspective, as the advisor is expected to represent their employer to prospective students. The advisor may attend conferences and other functions designed to bring the school to the notice of new admission students. They may meet with prospective students to gauge their interests and abilities and to determine whether programs offered at their institution would be a good fit for that student.

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Requirements and Education

It is essential for an academic advisor to have superior interpersonal skills, since most of their daily duties consist of interacting with students, parents and teachers. Additionally, successful advisors are highly organized, possess public speaking abilities and have basic teaching skills. A sense of humor is always a welcome attribute, as is the ability to be flexible.

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Educational requirements for academic advisors vary widely. A few institutions require only a bachelor’s degree, while most will not consider candidates who do not hold a master’s degree. Many job openings do not stipulate a particular degree discipline, but do require that the candidate possess some prior advising experience.

Despite the wide variance in educational requirements, there are a few academic areas that prepare people particularly well to become academic advisors. Individuals who have achieved degrees in disciplines like psychology, counseling, social work, marketing, student development, higher education leadership or career development tend to find many academic advisor positions are open to them.

Most highly desirable positions also require three to four years of prior experience in an advising role. It is helpful for students to seek work in the admissions or advising office of their college while completing their education. Doing so can provide valuable on the job experience that can help them obtain their first post-graduation job as an academic advisor.

Salary and Career Outlook

The average annual salary for an academic advisor is between $40,000 and $45,000, although some of these professionals can earn in excess of $60,000 per year. Advisors at major universities typically earn much higher salaries than their counterparts at community colleges and public high schools.

Academic advisors usually enjoy the same benefits package that is utilized by teachers at their institutions. Additionally, advisors are eligible for all school holidays and often receive an extended summer and holiday vacation.

Demand for qualified academic advisors is expected to rise as more people enroll in higher education programs. Academic advisors make a meaningful impact in the lives of the students they counsel, making this a desirable role for many people.

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