Teaching Careers Updated December 11, 2019

Educational Administrator – Job Description, Pay, and Career Outlook

By Robbie Bruens October 4, 2012

Educational administrators oversee the day-to-day functions of schools at every level: day care centers and preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and colleges and universities. They provide leadership in times of crisis and lay out optimistic visions for the future of educational institutions.

If you’re passionate about the overall achievement of educational institutions and have a gift for leadership, the role of an educational administrator may be right for you.

At-a-glance: Educational administrators

Educational administrator job description

Educational administrators work in schools, but not as teachers. They are responsible for overseeing the administrative duties at schools from preschool through post-graduate levels. An educational administrator ensures a safe and productive learning environment for the students and faculty at their institution.

Budgets, logistics, schedules, disciplinary actions, evaluations, and public relations fall under the purview of educational administrators. Administrators ensure teachers have the equipment and resources necessary to deliver educationally effective curriculum. They also have a hand in matters like planning events and implementing curriculum.

Educational administrators provide leadership and lay out optimistic goals and visions for the institutions they serve. They must ensure that their school follows regulations set by local, state, and federal authorities. Every person who works for a school, from teachers to custodial workers, reports to an educational administrator.

Typical Duties:

  • Evaluate and standardize curriculum and teaching methodologies
  • Recruit, hire, dismiss, and train staff
  • Communicate with families
  • Lead practices for achievement of high academic standards
  • Meet with administrative communities, superintendents, and school boards as well as local, state, and federal agencies
  • Monitor financial affairs, including budgets and purchasing of school expenses
  • Conduct teacher and staff evaluations to ensure proper implementation of curriculum
  • Represent and maintain school image and reputation
  • Adjudicate appropriate discipline for delinquent students
  • Support faculty with training, enrichment, and goal-setting
  • Complete job functions on computers using online communications, spreadsheets, word processors, and other automated tools
  • Communicate with parents regarding failing grades or disciplinary issues
  • Supervise care of the facility for safety and quality of physical condition
  • Ensure compliance with local, state, and federal standards
  • Attend school-related events on weekends and evenings
  • Prepare for the upcoming school year during the summer

Who makes a good educational administrator?

Someone who is:

  • Attentive to details
  • Compassionate and caring
  • Empathetic and sociable
  • Highly diplomatic
  • Knowledgeable of school policies
  • Adept at planning and organizing
  • Skilled in identifying problems and brainstorming potential solutions
  • Excellent at written and oral communication
  • Comfortable working independently and collaboratively
  • Passionate about connecting with teachers and students
  • Experienced in classroom education

Educational administration in-depth

Educational administrators at varying levels

Educational administrators have a variety of options regarding the educational level and faculty they will supervise. Some responsibilities and expertise will vary dependent on the position and institution of employment.

Child care administrators/directors

Child care administrators are in charge of preschools, nursery schools, day care centers, pre-kindergarten, and Head Start programs. They supervise the caregivers and teachers at preschools and child care centers. They are responsible for curriculum, hiring, budgets, and every other important aspect of institutions that care for children under age five.

K-12 administrators

Working in local or private school systems, K-12 educational administrators have roles such as principal, assistant or vice principal, technology administrator, curriculum administrator, and school district superintendent.

Principals, assistant or vice principals, and other administrators are responsible for the daily functioning and overall success of their schools. They lead elementary and secondary schools by managing teachers and support staff, overseeing budgets and curricula, and more.

Superintendents oversee all the schools and staff within a school district, much like a principal but on a larger scale, though they spend more time interacting with the school board and state officials than principals do.

Postsecondary administrators

People who become college-level educational administrators have a variety of options of where to work, from small private schools to large public universities. Administrators at the postsecondary level have roles as provosts or deans.

In addition to helping students choose the right courses and ultimately pick the right major, university educational administrators offer counseling on nearly every aspect of a student’s social and professional life. Some of the most common administrative jobs include:

  • Admissions: attracting new students and deciding which students get admitted.
  • Registrar: helping students with scheduling and registration; preparing transcripts and diplomas.
  • Student affairs: developing non-academic programs and resolving issues with student housing, security, and other matters.
  • Fundraising and development: Attracting donors to the school to support key programs.

Some postsecondary educational administrators must travel, especially if they work in admissions and fundraising. Often, they travel across the country to speak at high schools, meet with prospective students, and maintain links with alumni.

Education and certification requirements for educational administrators

  • Education: Bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree
  • Typical study time: 4-10 years

Educational administrative requirements vary by institution and from state to state.

Preschool and childcare administrators

To work as a child care administrator, a bachelor’s degree or higher is required. Experience of five or more years in child care or a related field is often preferred.

K-12 administrators

Requirements for K-12 administrators differ, depending on school policies and state regulations. While a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential usually are the minimum requirements, most K-12 positions require a master’s degree in an education-related field and several years of teaching experience.

Postsecondary administrators

Some postsecondary administrators begin their careers as professors before becoming deans or provosts. In these cases, a doctorate in their chosen field, along with years of teaching experience, may qualify them for a position as an educational administrator. To be considered for many positions, a doctorate or at least a master’s degree in subjects related to higher education are required.

Concordia University-Portland offers online degree programs that can help prospective educational administrators sharpen their skills and prepare to work for more selective schools and universities:

MEd program overview

EdD programs overview

MEd in Educational Leadership

MEd – Administration

MEd – Educational Technology and Learning Design: K-12 Education

EdD in Educational Administration

EdD – Administrative Leadership

EdD – Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation

These programs guide students to cultivate executive leadership traits such as critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and informed decision-making. Coursework emphasizes communication and collaboration, teaching students how to make a virtue of complexity and embrace innovation, imagination, and invention.

Certification and licensing

Licensing requirements for education administrators vary according to school district and state regulations. Some states also require a school administrator license.

Most certification requirements include exams to test for administrative knowledge and an analysis of background. For more on specific state requirements, visit Teachingcertification.com.

Salary range and employment projections for educational administrators

Salary ranges for educational administrators vary according to state, school district, experience, and degree, as well as the education level of the institution of employment.

Preschool and childcare administrators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for preschool administrators is $47,940. The lowest 10% earn less than $30,900 and the highest 10% earn more than $83,730.

Recruiter.com states preschool and childcare administrators can earn a starting salary of $32,000 to $48,000, with the average salary being $46,100. Salaries can differ from $36,070 to $60,150 from state to state.

Here is a snapshot of preschool and childcare administrator salaries:

  • Payscale.com: $39,464
  • ZipRecruiter.com: $38,037
  • Glassdoor.com: $47,442

K-12 administrators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for K-12 administrators is $95,310. The lowest 10% earn less than $61,490 and the highest 10% earn more than $144,950.

Recruiter.com states K-12 administrators can earn $64,000 to $96,000, with the average being $81,500. Depending upon location, starting salaries can differ from $60,760 to $109,850.

Here is a snapshot of K-12 administrator salaries:

  • Teachercertificationdegrees.com: $90,410
  • Payscale.com: $71,949
  • Glassdoor.com: $118,986

Postsecondary administrators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for college and university administrators is $94,340. Junior/community college administrators earn an average of $90,440. The lowest 10% earn less than $54,680 and the highest 10% earn more than $190,600. Four-year college and university administrators earn an average of $95,910. The lowest 10% earn less than $61,490 and the highest 10% earn more than $144,950.

Recruiter.com states postsecondary administrators can earn $72,000 to $108,00 with the average being $93,400 annually. Starting salaries can range from $77,350 to $116,930.

Here is a snapshot of college and university administrator salaries:

  • Teachercertificationdegrees.com: $88,580
  • Payscale.com: $40,000 to $129,000
  • Study.com: $111,210

Demand for qualified educational administrators is expected to rise in the years ahead thanks to an expanding education sector. According to the BLS, projected growth from 2018 to 2028 will vary by education level. Preschool administrators will grow 7%. Elementary and secondary administrators is projected to grow 11%. Postsecondary administrators will see a 7% increase.

Advantages and disadvantages

Pros

  • Inspire faculty, staff, and students in meaningful ways
  • Every day is different
  • Protect children from harm
  • Work in a learning-driven environment
  • Encounter new challenges and devise creative solutions
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Opportunities to travel for work
  • Innovative and creative work environment
  • Intellectually stimulating
  • Job security and benefits
  • Higher salary than other educational employment
  • Rewarding work with students

Cons

  • An often stressful environment
  • Bureaucratic challenges
  • Less opportunity to work one-on-one with children
  • Responsible for difficult decisions regarding disciplinary actions
  • Lots of paperwork
  • Many jobs require extensive education and advanced degrees
  • Often required to attend activities in the evenings and on weekends

Professional development for educational administrators

There are many ways to pursue professional development as an educational administrator. Professional associations provide access to networking opportunities, training, conferences, and more. The following organizations can provide opportunities and educational programs for educational administrators:

Best of the web

The internet makes it easy to stay connected to prominent educational administrators. Here is a list of some favorites:

Favorite educational administrator websites and blogs

Favorite educational administrator Twitter and Instagram feeds to follow

Learn More: Click to view related resources.

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