Career and Job Search Guide

Education Administrator

Administrators are responsible for managing schools and educational organizations. They are also responsible for supervising school staffs. Many educational administrators supervise the training and education of employees working for private companies and other organizations.

Education administrators are responsible for developing organizational goals, policies, and academic expectations. In addition to these responsibilities, they also supervise the various employees that work for educational institutions and plan new academic initiatives, supervise student service programs, perform administrative duties, and train staff. When parents or students have complaints, educational administrators are often responsible for resolving problems, and educational administrators have public relations responsibilities. Smaller schools usually hire a single administrator while colleges or larger academic institutions usually employee many each with a single specialty.

Those working at elementary, junior high, and high schools are commonly known as principals. Principals work with school staff members to meet the performance and academic goals of the institution. Principals are responsible to explain school policies to staff members, hire teachers, and assess how well teachers are performing. During teacher evaluations, principals may sit in during classroom instruction and examine instructional materials teachers are passing out to students. Since some teachers receive performance based pay, principals need to use impartial appraisal techniques during evaluations. Principals spend some of their time meeting with parents, community members, and students, and they are responsible to make more decisions since schools have more input into their decision making rather than school districts. However, when making decisions, principals must consider how their decisions will affect students, parents, and community members.

Principals are also responsible for school budgets, reports, and acquiring school supplies. Because of budget cuts, more principals are responsible to convince community members and companies to donate money to their schools.

Principals are responsible to make sure their students are meeting state and national academic expectations. Some principals coordinate with companies in their communities, so their students can participate in education work programs. Principals must also deal with overcrowding and coordinate programs to assist students who do not speak English. Many principals must petition local and state authorities to provide the adequate supplies and buildings to facilitate learning. When kids are out of school for the summer, principals are responsible to prepare for the next school year, coordinate building upgrades and repairs, hiring new teachers, and setting up training sessions for teachers and other school staff members.

Schools are increasingly concerned about the emotional well being of students. Because of this new emphasis, principals have added responsibilities. Many of these students struggle from emotional problems as a result of increasing rates of divorce and teenage pregnancy. Many schools sponsor programs designed to help students held before the school day begins or after it ends. Many of these programs are intended to assist families in need. Principals often collaborate with community groups to set up programs designed to help students abusing drugs and alcohol or engaged in criminal behavior.

To assist principals in their work, many schools hire assistant principals. Many individuals begin their careers as assistant principals before being promoted to principals. The duties of assistant principals include: scheduling classes, acquiring books and other materials for students, and overseeing services for students, such as, cafeteria services. Assistant principals are also responsible to handle discipline and truancy, coordinate recess programs for students, and ensure school activities or facilities do not pose health risks to students. Like principals, assistant principals also meet with students to discuss educational goals and career plans. Many assistant principals are now involved with creating new curriculum, public relations, and assessing teachers' performances, duties formally exclusive to principals. Most schools determine how many assistant principals to hire based on student populations. Administrators working for school districts are responsible to supervise schools located in their district. These administrators may be responsible to supervise specific education programs, such as physical or special education programs, and they often collaborate with curriculum experts to improve education programs. Administrators are responsible to coordinate standardized testing programs and career planning services. Certain administrators may be assigned to oversee athletics, school counseling, and other student service programs. However, as mentioned, principals and assistant principals at individual schools have assumed more responsibility for these programs.

Administrators working for small institutions, such as preschools, usually assume all the responsibilities of an education administrator. They hire and train new staff members and ensure academic standards are adhered to at their schools.

Chief academic officers, commonly referred to as provosts, work closely with university and college presidents to hire new staff members and make decisions about academic and administrative policies. Provosts also work closely with department heads and deans to handle issues within departments. Most college administrators have fundraising responsibilities, but directors of development spend most their time raising money.

Chairpersons, commonly known as department heads, manage academic departments at colleges and universities. They usually have teaching duties, and they hire new instructors, determine classes to be taught, sit on committees, assess the performance of professors within their department, and make budget recommendations. Because they are responsible for a department, chairpersons often meet with students, teachers, and school administrators to answer questions or resolve problems.

Administrators working at colleges and universities supervise programs intended to assist students. Deans of students, also known as vice presidents of student affairs, are responsible for numerous student programs such as admissions, housing, job services, financial aid, etc. Deans of students working at colleges with smaller student enrollments are often assigned to provide counseling services for students. At bigger schools, administrators usually specialize. Registrars are responsible to maintain individual records for students. Their duties include: maintaining registration and grade records, helping students with transcript requests, supervising tuition and fee payments, reviewing enrollment stats, and coordinating the production of course catalogs. Directors of admissions review student application forms and determine which ones get admitted, and they collaborate with financial aid directors to help students pay for their education. Since computers and the internet are increasingly utilized for school admission and record keeping, admission specialists and registrars must understand how to use computers. Athletic directors supervise athletic programs for students and perform administrative duties at school athletic departments. They also hire staff and make budget requests. Colleges and universities also hire administrators to handle public relations and offsite education.

Work environment. Education administrators have immense responsibilities. These jobs are very stressful but rewarding as well. Having to meet with so many people, from legislators, students, and faculty members, can be very difficult and time consuming. Since they often are put in situations where they must determine punishments for students, working as an assistant principal or principal can be stressful. To add to stress levels, many principals are accountable for their students' academic performance.

A little over 30 percent of education administrators are required to spend more than 40 hours working during the week, and many supervise school sponsored events held during the evenings and weekends. Administrators usually work during the entire year, but some are not required to work when students are not in class.