It’s a good time for anyone interested in higher education administration to enter the job market. Because of the growing number of students entering colleges and universities each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of higher education administration positions will grow 7% through 2028 — that’s faster than average for all occupations! Though a variety of roles make up a college or university’s administration — from college president, to admissions director, to residence hall manager — some professionals may be interested in the highest-paying positions. If you’re interested in working in university administration, read through this article, then research what positions might work best for you and your career goals.
Depending on the size and prestige of their college or university, college presidents can make anywhere from $207,995 to $386,720, according to salary.com. On average, college presidents bring in just over $276,000 per year. They earn this high salary by planning and directing all policies, objectives, and initiatives for their campus. They also oversee all financial, academic, and operational functions. To become a college president, you should have a doctorate in education or a related field. You also need a proven record of success in higher education. Most college presidents are former university professors or administrators.
2. Chief Academic Officer
Boasting the second highest salary in higher education administration is the chief academic officer. These well paid professionals work alongside other administrators to ensure all departments, programs, and faculty members achieve performance goals. Creating development plans, supporting professional development initiatives, and implementing realistic budgets are all responsibilities of a university’s chief academic officer. While some universities will hire a chief academic officer with a master’s degree in education or the humanities, more prestigious institutions will likely require a Doctor of Education or a Ph.D.
3. Development Officer
A successful development officer is vital to the health of a college or university. For an average annual salary of nearly $154,000, a development officer develops strategies for all:
- alumni relations
- public relations
In short, they guide much of a university’s financial growth. To become a development officer, you should have a bachelor’s degree (some universities will require a master’s degree) and at least eight years of experience in a management position.
The fourth career on our list of the highest paid jobs in higher education administration is provost. As part of a university’s executive tier, provosts develop policies and programs related to academics. Typical responsibilities include:
- coordinating the activities of deans and chairpersons
- scheduling courses
- implementing new courses
- advising on personnel matters.
Usually, the position of provost requires an advanced degree, and a minimum of 10 years experience in a related field.
5. Assistant Provost
Also referred to as “associate provost,” assistant provosts make an average of $131,050 per year. These professionals of higher education administration usually report to the chief academic officer. They’re responsible for:
- overseeing one or more areas within academic affairs
- creating specific objectives for said programs
- developing policies and budgets
Five or more years in a managerial position is usually required to be hired, as is a master’s degree or higher.
6. Athletics Director
According to salary.com, university athletics directors can make anywhere from $67,000 to $195,000 per year, with the average salary coming in at just under $117,000. The biggest factor in salary is the size and prestige of a university’s athletics program. Athletics directors are tasked with:
- purchasing new equipment
- pricing and distributing tickets
They are also responsible for ensuring their program’s compliance with all laws and university athletics regulations. To become a university athletics director, you should have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, along with eight or more years of managerial experience.
7. Assistant to the President
Assistant to the university president isn’t your average assistant job. For an average salary of $108,000 per year, an assistant to the president oversees the operational, administrative, and financial activities of the president’s office. This includes acting as senior policy advisor on various matters and representing the president at selected events and meetings. An assistant to the president should have a master’s degree in a relevant field, along with a minimum of seven years of work experience.
8. Dean of Students
Dean of students is next on our list of the best paying jobs in higher education administration. According to salary.com, the average salary of a dean of students is just over $100,000 per year. The main responsibility of these professionals is to direct student affairs. This includes ensuring quality services to students in the form of:
They keep other university executives apprised of overall student morale. They develop budgets and policies to benefit student services. To become a dean of students, one should have an advanced degree and five or more years of managerial experience.
9. Admissions Officer
A number of positions exist within a university’s admissions department, the highest paid of which is admissions officer. For an average annual salary of just under $98,000, the admissions officer manages the entire admissions program. Responsibilities include:
- developing plans for strategic recruitment
- ensuring the institution meets its enrollment goals
Sometimes, an admissions officer has additional responsibilities in scholarship administration. Most admissions officers have a master’s degree and at least five years working in admissions.
10. Department Chair
Depending on the size and prestige of a college or university, a department chair may make anywhere from $59,000 to $120,000 per year. However, the average salary of a department chair is approximately $88,000 — enough to make it the 10th highest paying job in higher education administration. Each academic department is led by a faculty member department chair who is responsible for advancing the department’s programs. They work closely with the dean to:
- conduct department meetings
- plan long-term goals
- implement policies
- deal with certain student issues
Because department chairs are faculty members, they tend to have advanced degrees and many years experience in the classroom.
11. Financial Aid Director
Financial aid is one of the most important programs a college or university offers. That’s why the financial aid director is one of the highest paid employees in administration. Financial aid directors oversee all grant, loan, and scholarship monies available to current and incoming students. Tasks include keeping up to date with private, state, and federal financial aid program. They guide students and parents through the loan and scholarship application process, and later, organizing students’ repayment plans. Financial aid directors are usually required to have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Twelfth on our list of the highest paid university jobs is registrar. Registrars are responsible for:
- registering students into classes
- updating student records
- determining which students have obtained certain academic goals, such as Dean’s List
They are also tasked with ensuring a student has met all necessary requirements before graduation. To become a registrar, you should have at least a bachelor’s degree.
13. Career Services Director
A career services director at a university makes an average of $80,220 per year. These academic professionals oversee the operation of the career services office, which provides job opportunities and career counseling services to students nearing graduation. Responsibilities include:
- marketing the school’s students to potential employers
- assisting students with the creation of resumes and cover letters
- helping students formulate paths to their desired careers
To become a career services director, you should have at least a bachelor’s degree, and 1-3 years of relevant experience.
14. Academic Advising Director
The professional who oversees a university’s academic advising department is the academic advising director. The average annual salary is $76,807. The academic advising director works closely with all advisors to ensure students are receiving quality, thoughtful, and individualized attention when it comes to planning their academic careers. Other tasks include:
- implementing department goals and procedures
- recommending improvements to existing programs
To become an academic advising director, you should have at least a bachelor’s degree and a minimum one year of experience in student advising.
Rounding out our list of the 15 highest paid jobs in higher education administration is bursar. Bursars oversee and manage all student, faculty, and staff accounts. Responsibilities include:
- taking and distributing payments
- keeping track of all petty cash
- dealing with billing and receivables
Most university bursars have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related subject, and at least three years of managerial experience.
Did you find our article on the best paid jobs in higher education administration interesting? Then be sure to check out: