Education Administrators Salary and Career Outlook

Education administrators are one part educator, one part business guru. Under their leadership, students, faculty and entire programs thrive -- or fail. It is a tall order, but with the right training and a heaping dose of passion, education administration can be a fulfilling career for those who qualify.

Employment and job prospects for education administrators

Education administrators are a varied group spanning both the K through 12 and postsecondary levels, and their tasks vary accordingly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, bls.gov, 2012), elementary through high school administrators usually perform some variation of the following tasks:

  • Supervising teachers and other school staff
  • Monitoring and observing programs and their effectiveness
  • Arranging professional development mentorships
  • Reviewing and reporting academic goals and achievements
  • Managing school budgets and finances
  • Ensuring the safety of students and staff

The BLS reports that collegiate-level education administrators tend to be more specialized than their elementary-through-secondary colleagues. Those who work in admissions, the registrar's office or student affairs can bear the title, as can provosts and academic deans. In most cases, postsecondary education administrators are responsible for the following tasks in addition to their more specialized goals:

  • Creating, supporting and assessing programs relevant to their area of expertise
  • Hiring and evaluating staff
  • Serving as a public representative for their departments
  • Communicating objectives to students, parents and faculty
  • Events planning or speaking

Education administrators at all levels and specialties must demonstrate strong leadership, good business sense and a passion for teaching. They must also acquire the right training.

How to become an education administrator

Education administrators include a diverse array of professionals, but all must invest in similar training. According to the BLS, entry-level education administrators can often enter the field with a bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline, like counseling or education. A master's degree is typically required to advance to the higher echelons of the field, and postsecondary administrators may even need to earn doctoral degrees. You may even be able to acquire education administrator training online. Research education administrator schools and programs to find one that suits your goals and learning style.

Education administrator salary trends and projections

Education administrators' salaries are comparable at both the K through 12 and postsecondary levels, though the upper range tends to be higher up the latter. According to the BLS, the national elementary through high school education administrator salary in 2011 was $87,470 median, with the lowest 10 percent earning up to $58,600 and the top 10 percent earning up to $128,660. The national education administrator salary at the postsecondary level was $84,280 median that same year, with the lowest 10 percent earning up to $47,580 and the top 10 percent earning up to $164,390.

A number of factors can influence education administrators' earnings, including education, experience and even location. According to the BLS, the highest paying industries for K through 12 administrators in 2011 were local government, colleges and universities, and elementary and secondary schools. Hospitals, management companies, and colleges and universities tended to pay the most for postsecondary administrators.

Location can also impact earnings. According to the BLS, the states that tended to offer the highest mean education administrator salaries at the K through 12 level in 2011 were:

  • New Jersey (120,130 mean)
  • New York ($118,130 mean)
  • Connecticut ($116,270 mean)

The states offering the highest mean salaries at the postsecondary level:

  • New Jersey ($125,130 mean)
  • Delaware ($124,360 mean)
  • Pennsylvania ($113,260 mean)

Employment outlook for education administrators

The BLS projects that employment will rise for both K through 12 and postsecondary education administrators, though expects the latter to fare best. According to the BLS, employment of elementary through high school administrators is projected to grow by 10 percent in the decade preceding 2020; increasing enrollments will likely be tempered by tighter budgets. At the postsecondary level, the BLS projects that administrator employment will grow by 19 percent for the same period.

Just as location can impact earnings potential, it can impact employment demand, too. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, demand for K through 12 education administrators is expected to be strongest in the following states between 2008 and 2018:

  • Texas: 29 percent
  • Georgia: 25 percent
  • Utah: 25 percent

Meanwhile, the Department projects that postsecondary administrators will find the strongest employment growth in the following states for the same period:

  • Georgia: 28 percent
  • Colorado: 16 percent
  • Arkansas: 15 percent

For education administrators, the right training pays off, both in terms of salary and employment potential. Research education administrator schools near you (or online) to get started.