Education administrators salary & career outlook
Education administrators occupy a position at the intersection of education and business. They must exercise organizational leadership skills that combine high-stakes budgetary and personnel decisions with careful stewardship of growing young minds. It can be a tall order, but for the right person with the right training it could potentially be the career of a lifetime.
Employment and job prospects for education administrators
These administrators are a varied group, spanning all levels of education from kindergarten through postsecondary school, and their daily duties vary accordingly. Elementary, middle and high school administrators usually perform some variation of the following tasks:
- Supervising teachers, support personnel and other school staff
- Monitoring and observing the effectiveness of educational programs
- Arranging professional development mentorships, workshops and conference trips
- Managing school budgets and finances for individual facilities and the whole organization
- Establishing and overseeing conduct protocols and safety procedures
Postsecondary education administrators tend to be more specialized than their K-12 colleagues. The college admissions office, registrar's office and student affairs department each require separate administrative specialties. Provosts and academic deans also each have their own distinct set of responsibilities.
Regardless of their academic level or specialty, administrators must demonstrate strong leadership skills, good business sense and a passion for education.
How to become an education administrator
Aside from a few entry-level positions at the postsecondary level, aspiring education administrators usually must earn at least a master's degree to qualify for employment. To become a school principal, for example, typically requires a master's degree. Certain upper-level postsecondary administrators — deans and provosts, for example — need a doctoral degree.
Some colleges and universities may offer at least some education administrator training online, for working professionals looking to move up the ranks without committing to a full-time, campus-based degree program.
Education administrator salary trends and projections
Reports released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that education administrators at all levels of the school system earn fairly comfortable salaries, with positions that require more education or experience paying commensurately more on average.
Administrators at the postsecondary level earned a mean annual salary of $100,600 in 2013, with the lowest-paid 10 percent taking home less than $49,660 and the top-paid 10 percent earning $171,040 or more the same year. The mean annual education administrator salary across all other academic levels was $83,170 in 2013, with the bottom 10 percent of earners making up to $42,050 and the top 10 percent earning upwards of $127,180.
Location also influences take-home pay, both in terms of income expectations and the regional cost of living. Here are a few places where the 2013 BLS average annual salary figures for education administrators matched up favorably with the state's ranking on a 2014 cost of living study by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC):
Education administrators, postsecondary
- Mississippi: $91,190; ranked 1st in affordability
- Kentucky: $90,030; ranked 3rd in affordability
- Indiana: $93,990; ranked 5th in affordability
- Georgia: $103,400; ranked 11th in affordability
Education administrators, all other
- Mississippi: $84,710; ranked 1st in affordability
- Kansas: $90,910; ranked 6th in affordability
- Alabama: $81,870; ranked 8th in affordability
- Georgia: $93,030; ranked 11th in affordability
Postsecondary education administrators in Delaware earned the most overall in 2013, taking home mean annual pay of $138,150, while New York's mean annual figure of $112,950 ranked highest for education administrators at all other levels.
Employment outlook for education administrators
Employment is expected to rise for both K-12 and postsecondary education administrators, according to BLS data, though the college and university sector shows a slightly rosier outlook. BLS figures show that employment of elementary, middle and high school principals is projected to grow by 6 percent between 2012 and 22 nationwide, leading to about 13,100 new jobs in the field. At the postsecondary level, the BLS projects 15 percent growth in administrator employment, producing around 23,500 new jobs in the same period.
The right training can potentially pay off well for education administrators, in terms of salary as well as employment potential. Learn more about education administrator schools online or in your area and find out how you might be able to start moving up.
Cost of Living Data Series: First Quarter 2014, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri Department of Economic Development, http://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/index.stm
Occupational Employment and Wages: Education Administrators, All Other, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2013,
Occupational Employment and Wages: Education Administrators, Postsecondary, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2013,
Elementary, Middle and High School Principals, "Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,
Postsecondary Education Administrators, "Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,