Educational Administration

What Is Educational Administration?

Educational Administration includes all the people who run institutions on a day-to-day basis—all the administrators who manage the school or manage a functional part of the school.  With K-12 institutions, an administrator may be a principal, a director, or a superintendent.  Colleges have deans, department chairs, directors, presidents, chancellors, and provosts.  Some administrators are responsible for the total operation of the entire institution, like a Principal or President, while others are in charge of functional units like Financial Aid, Personnel, or the Dean of Students.  Educational administrators do things like writing policies and procedures, often in consultation with other administrators, teachers, and union leaders.  They make decisions, enter into contracts, evaluate staff under them, hire new staff, all so that the school can achieve its goals. The bigger the institution, the more complex the structure under the top administrator tends to be.

Many institutions have different policies for administrators than they do for faculty/teachers and for other support staff employees.  The higher-level administrators—like the superintendents of whole school systems or presidents of colleges and universities—may have multi-year contracts with complex compensation packages.

In most places before you can become a K-12 school administrator you may need to have a particular graduate degree or a special certification. To earn this special certification, you may need to have a certain number of years of teaching experience, since you will probably be supervising the work of the teachers.  In colleges and universities, the precise qualifications to be an administrator likely are based on having an advanced degree and having had prior solid experience in a similar institution.  Most colleges will only elevate someone to an academic department chair or dean’s position if that person has a graduate degree in the discipline that they will be administering.

If you are hoping to have a career in Education where you are working directly with students in some instructional position, then jumping right into an administrative career path may not be the best plan.  Teachers and professors who enjoy the structure of preparing lesson plans and learning materials and being with students day after day may not be very happy in educational administration especially when it has little student contact.  So, if teaching is where you’re going to begin your career, give yourself some time to see if you want to make the change to the administration.  Wait until after you have some experience and are looking to work on a Master’s or doctoral degree.  In some schools, especially K-12, it’s hard to go back to the classroom once you leave it.  In colleges that difficulty may not exist.  The rewards of Educational Administration are great but can be quite different from the rewards that result from working directly with students.

What Careers Are Related to This Field?