Many people may initially think of a school principal when they think about the title of a school administrator, but it is actually a broad title that encompasses anything from the assistant principal at an elementary school to the dean of students at a university or registrars and students affairs staff. Although individual tasks and the degree of student contact may vary widely depending on the specific job, the aim of all school administrators is ultimately the same, and that is to oversee the operations of educational institutions.
Working as a School Administrator
A school administrator’s day varies greatly depending on the specific job description. Principals of elementary, middle, and high schools are in charge of managing everything from teachers and staff to the maintenance of the building to the budget. They also work with parents and students and are in charge of curriculum and schedules. Administrators in universities and colleges who are academic deans or provosts work with the president on budgets, faculty appointments, and academic policies. In student affairs positions, they work closely with students on issues ranging from academics to housing to activities and more. School administrators who work in registration are responsible for records maintenance, scheduling classes, registering students, and planning graduation ceremonies. In admissions, they review student applications and make decisions about admitting them. They may also meet with students about admissions policies and create promotional material. The scope of all of these tasks will depend on different factors including the size of the school.
Preparing for a School Administration Career
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, school principals need to have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education or a related field and several years of teaching experience. They may also need to be licensed. A principal may first work as an assistant principal. Administrators at colleges and universities may need a master’s or only a bachelor’s degree depending on the size of the school and other requirements, and they may be in a number of different areas. Some may need work experience as well. Provosts and deans commonly need doctoral degrees and may work as professors before being appointed as deans.
Outlook and Work Environment
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts average job growth for principals and above-average job growth for administrators at colleges and universities. Unlike teachers, principals often do not have summers off. They may have a number of tasks in the summer that could include hiring new teaching and maintenance staff. They may also be required to work some nights for school events and parent-teacher meetings. College and university administrators may have more regular schedules although those at the highest level, such as deans, may tend to have more irregular hours like many academics. Summer hours for college and university administrators may be reduced.
Working as a principal or as an administrator at the college or university level can be an excellent career for people who are interested in making a significant impact in the field of education. A school administrator has the opportunity to mentor and inspire both teachers and students and to have a positive effect on the next generation of students.