What is an Education Administrator?
An education administrator is tasked with overseeing the operation and instruction of educational facilities on a day-to-day basis. Education administrators are found at every level of education, from pre-kindergarten to the post-graduate level. Many education administrators start their careers as teachers.
Superintendents, elementary and high school principals, assistant principals and department heads at the high school, college and post-graduate levels are all considered education administrators. An education administrator might also be a director of a preschool, or the head of a program such as special education. In most cases candidates must be certified in education administration, although licensing requirements vary by state.
What Does an Education Administrator Do?
Parents, teachers and students depend on education administrators to keep the educational facility running smoothly. Education administrators have a wide range of responsibilities, from establishing and implementing school programs to building maintenance.
At the college level, an education administrator may work in the admissions department and meet with prospective students. Job duties of education administrators may include:
Education administrators have a variety of responsibilities for managing teachers. They observe teachers, evaluate their performance in the classroom, and organize professional development programs to keep teachers informed of the latest trends in education.
Hiring Support Personnel
In large school districts, education administrators may hire support staff such as instructional coordinators who provide data analysis and have input into a teacher’s professional development.
In a smaller school, the principal may personally hire and oversee school workers such as school safety officers and custodians and oversee security procedures. In larger schools, the principal may assign these duties to a staff member such as an assistant principal.
Maintain Curriculum Standards
The education administrators develop curriculum standards, implement them and make sure they are maintained to optimum levels. In public schools, the state mandates standards and it is up to educational administrators to make sure that teachers adhere to them in their lessons. They evaluate student achievement based on test scores and other achievement data and prepare reports based on their assessment. Education administrators such as the principal or department head establish and supervise class schedules for optimum results.
Establishing Needed Programs
Many education administrators implement and supervise additional programs that augment the education of students in their school. They may establish counseling programs, special education programs and before-school and after-school childcare programs to help working parents.
Enforcing Disciplinary and Attendance
A main responsibility is to establish disciplinary and attendance rules and make sure students are in compliance. If they are not, the administrator may meet with students and parents to discuss the student’s progress and behavior, provide counseling and/or take disciplinary action when necessary.
Overseeing Building Safety
School education administrators are responsible for student safety. Maintaining a safe space to educate children is the responsibility of the principal, the school’s head education administrator. In light of recent developments, school safety has taken on a new importance among the school principal’s responsibilities. An education administrator will coordinate all security procedures for the students, the staff and school visitors.
Performing Administrative Duties
In addition, the education administrator may be responsible for performing school administrative duties. This includes managing the school budget, ordering supplies, coordinating school buses, managing cafeteria services and scheduling maintenance for the school buildings and grounds.
Serving as the Public Representative of the School
An education administrator may serve as the representative of their school to the public. As such, they may meet with the superintendent, community members and legislators to address issues such as parental concerns or funding.
What is a Special Education Administrator?
A special education administrator strives to facilitate positive outcomes for students who have special needs. The title of the special education administrator may be Director of Special Education or Director of Special Programs.
A special education administrator is an upper level manager who oversees the services, programs, personnel and budget of the special education department. They report directly to the school board and the superintendent.
Special education administrators conduct strategic planning meetings to develop benchmarks and testing for special needs students on an annual basis. They mentor teachers and other administrators and help them implement IEP (Individualized Education Program) services for students to help with their academic achievement.
What are the Careers in Education Administration?
The following is a list of the most common careers within the field of education administration:
- Assistant Principal
- Athletic Director
- Chief Academic Officer
- Childcare Facility Director
- Director of Curriculum
- Director of Special Education
- Director of Student Financial Aid
- Early Childhood Consultant
- Education Consultant
- Pre-kindergarten Coordinator
- Pre-School Program Director
- School Counselor
Why are Education Administrators Important?
Education administrators are important because they manage aspects of their educational facility and provide a space where students can learn and attain the best possible results.
To make sure students stay on track to meet the achievement standards for their grade level, education administrators monitor student progress and make changes when necessary. These changes may include adding programs like special education classes, providing individual counseling, consulting with families and working with teachers to develop teaching methods.
Education administrators also supervise teachers and provide them with learning opportunities in the field of education through continuing education. They perform administrative tasks, maintain the school building and implement important safety procedures.
Education administrators make sure students have the cafeteria, bus and before- and after- school services they need. An important function of education administrators is to act as the liaison from the school to the community in order to obtain funding for necessary programs and services.
What are the Requirements to Become an Education Administrator?
Requirements to become an education administrator vary by state. Typically a candidate is required to complete a bachelor’s degree in education, in school counseling or in a related field. Upon completion of a bachelor’s degree, the student will typically need to complete a master’s degree program.
The master’s degree program will prepare a prospective principal of an elementary, middle or high school to take on responsibilities including managing staff, creating budgets, setting goals for the school and working with families and the community.
Typical courses include leadership, school policy and law, resource and finance management, diversity and integrating technology into the classroom setting.
Education administrator licensing requirements vary by state. Public school principals in most states are required to have a license as a school administrator and hold a master’s degree.
However, in some states there are alternative programs to enable candidates to become an education administrator without a master’s degree in education leadership or administration.
Private school principals are not required to obtain a state license. Some states have reciprocity routes for certified administrators with out of state licenses to qualify for a professional certificate. In most states, the candidate will be asked to pass an examination and a background check.
Work Experience Requirements
Gaining experience by working in education as a teacher is an important foundation for education administrators. Department heads, assistant principals and principals and are generally are required to compete several years as a classroom teacher before being considered for a position of an education administrator.
An assistant principal or a department head may advance to become a principal, while a principal may advance to become a superintendent or an instructional coordinator. Educational administrators who would like to become superintendents or instructional coordinators may be required to complete additional education.
What Do You Learn in an Education Administration Degree Program?
Students in an education administration degree program take coursework that emphasizes administrative issues, leadership, supervision, communication, human relations and curriculum analysis. Courses are typically evidence based and provide guidelines for best practices in the field.
- Supervision: Students learn to evaluate instruction, curriculum and assessment practices in an educational setting.
- Leadership: This course focuses on the function, processes and best practices of education administration leadership.
- School Law: School law courses introduce students to constitutional and federal statutes that influence school policy. Students consider practical school situations in light of legal implications, and they develop skills to conduct research on legal issues that affect school policy.
- Social Justice: An overview of social justice and cultural diversity in teaching and learning, as well as leadership practice. Students learn how leadership practices can address systemic inequities.
- Instructional Leadership: Students are introduced to the theory and practice of school improvement and the role of the education administrator in effecting change.
- Education Policy: An examination of education policy for education administrators, including policy development, policy planning and policy implementation. Students also learn to analyze and evaluate education policy.
- Community Engagement: Students learn the elements of successful school/community relations by studying community power structures and the role of school policy and effective leadership. Public relations is discussed as well as communication techniques for relating to audiences including the media.
- School Finance and Resource Management: Prospective education administrators learn about budgeting, building operations and facilities management, as well as the selection and retention of staff.
What is an Online Education Administration Degree?
Some people choose a convenient online education administration degree program to advance to a position of leadership. Online master’s level programs prepare students well for their future responsibilities as an education administrator.
Online courses provide the flexibility that is so important to individuals who are currently employed, those with family obligations that prevent them from studying on campus full time and students who have a hard time commuting to earn their degree. Another significant benefit of online learning is that the coursework is generally less expensive than taking classes on campus.
Online education administration degree programs vary, so it is important to find out if the program you are interested in taking leads to a degree that meets the requirements of your state for licensing. Students can find degree programs at universities that provide accredited courses leading to administrative positions.
Degree programs typically range from around 30 credits to over 40 credits and focus on decision making, governance, curriculum planning and assessment, legal issues, financial issues and political complexities.
Many colleges and universities offer online education administration degree programs, and some have a hybrid program that blends off-campus and on-campus learning.
In addition to offering coursework leading to preparation for a position as an educational administrator such as a school principal, some universities offer internship opportunities. These opportunities allow student to engage in administrative duties at the school where they are currently employed.
What Skills are Needed to be an Education Administrator?
Education administrators direct the activities of others and take responsibility for achieving objectives through their technical, interpersonal and conceptual skills. As leaders, education administrators need to have the technical knowledge to be proficient in a wide range of processes and procedures.
Education administrators also need interpersonal skills to deal with students, parents, teachers, other administrators and the public. In addition, an education administrator needs the conceptual skills to visualize their task as a whole and use their creative abilities to set objectives and meet their goals.
Education administrators who have budgeting responsibilities must be skilled at keeping to the allotted budget and securing additional funding when necessary.
As the school representative, an education administrator may be called upon to make presentations to the community regarding school issues.
Education administrators must be skilled decision makers who take multiple factors into consideration, such as the students, the staff and the general operation of the school.
School principals and other education administrators must show leadership when establishing goals and the policies and procedures for meeting them. They also must be skilled at motivating staff and students.
Department heads, assistant principals, principals and other education administrators deal with academic and disciplinary issues regularly. They need the skills to meet with parents and teachers, understand the problem and communicate an effective course of action.
Education administrators are tasked with analyzing testing procedures and student test results to help students in their academic achievement. If they determine that changes are required, they must be able to evaluate options and implement the best method.
School principals and other administrators need to be skilled in analyzing problems brought to them by students and staff and implementing appropriate solutions.
Knowledge of School Law
Education administrators must have in-depth knowledge of school law and be skilled in implementing programs that adhere to school law.
What are the Working Conditions of an Education Administrator?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, in 2021 76% of elementary, middle and high school principals worked in local public elementary and secondary schools and 18% worked in private schools.
Principals and other education administrators such as high school department heads typically work full time all year around. They may be called upon to work in the evening and on weekends in order to meet with parents and attend school functions.
During the summer when students are not in school education administrators generally order supplies, hire staff for the upcoming year and get the school building ready by scheduling maintenance and repairs.
Post-secondary education administrators who work at colleges and universities may work full time in the registrar’s office or act as provosts or academic deans.
While holding a leadership position as an education administrator can be very rewarding, there can be significant stress associated with the job. School principals and other education administrators are accountable for making sure that the school meets both state and federal educational standards for student performance, as well as teacher qualification. They also have the demanding responsibility of coordinating students, parents, staff, policymakers and other community members.
What Tools are Used by an Education Administrator?
School Information Systems (SIS)
School Information Systems (SIS) technology save time, increase transparency and help education administrators achieve better outcomes for their students.
Attendance Management Software
Education administrators need to identify students who are truant in order to comply with school law. Attendance software allows teachers to post daily attendance where it can be reviewed by administrators.
Administrators can access gradebook software information uploaded by teachers to monitor the progress of students. Parents can also track the progress of their students and act quickly to prevent serious problems and avoid confrontations with administrators over grades.
School principals and others can use current software methods to analyze student performance data and prepare accurate reports.
Online calendars can organize entries and allow secretaries and others to determine the availability of an education administrator to meet with parents and community members.
Post-graduate educational institutions use reporting tools to simplify data retrieval from an institution's database and run reports on spreadsheets and other sources.
Cloud-Based Administrative Software
All-in-one School Information Management Systems save time and money with software for scheduling, discipline forms, billing, admissions, cafeteria issues and other functions.
Online Registration and Management Software
This type of software can feed data directly to the school records database and keep track of tuition payments, payroll and accounts receivable. Other functions include student ID cards, cafeteria information and before- and after-care.
What are the Pros of Being an Education Administrator?
- Helping Students: Education administrators have the gratification of helping students reach their full potential and achieve their goals in life.
- Filling a Leadership Role: Superintendents, school principals, assistant principals, department heads, headmasters and other education administrators have the creative outlet of filling a leadership role to guide students and staff for optimum results.
- Meeting Challenges: As a leader an education administrator will face new challenges every day for an exciting career where no two days are the same.
- Implementing a Vision: School leaders have the opportunity to take control over key decisions, including hiring staff, building curriculum programs and setting the tone for learning.
- Having a Greater Impact: Education administration is an opportunity to make a difference and have a greater impact on students, their families and the community.
- Taking Credit: When policies and procedures work to improve student achievement, the top education administrator will receive credit for a job well done.
- Enjoying a Satisfactory Salary: School principals can enjoy a significant increase in salary from that of a teaching position.
What are the Cons of Being an Education Administrator?
- Taking the Blame for Failure: Just as an education administrator takes the credit when things go well, if they don’t, the administrator takes the blame.
- Dealing with Negative Issues: Small problems are generally handled between parents and teachers or others, but serious complaints often reach the education administrator's desk.
- Spending Extra Time on the Job: While students only attend school for approximately 10 months out of the year, the education administrator is expected to work all year around with a typical 2-4 weeks of vacation. In many cases they attend meetings and extra-curricular events several times a week at night and on weekends.
- Handling a Greater Workload: School principals have an enormous responsibility for teachers, students, programs and deal with disciplinary problems, academic issues and other matters on a regular basis.
What is the Job Outlook for Education Administrators?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, the employment of education administrators is expected to grow at 5% from 2021 to 2031. This rate of growth is around the average for all occupations. The rate is affected by student enrollment numbers each year.
Although there are a limited number of principal positions available for each school, more schools open when enrollment increases. A decrease in enrollment can lead to a decrease in demand for principals. Other positions available for education administrators include assistant principals, department heads, and instructional coordinators on the K-12 level, and provost and registrar at the college and university level.
As the baby boomer generation retires from education, more opportunities may open to candidates who seek an education administration position. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2031 there will be a need for 205,500 elementary, middle and high school principals, an increase of 14,200 over 2021.
What Professions are Similar to Education Administration?
Provosts, also called chief academic officers, assist college and university presidents in developing academic policies, participating in faculty appointments and managing budgets. They provide supervision of faculty research and coordinate the activities of individual colleges and schools in a large university.
A registrar maintains student and course records for colleges and universities. They ensure that students meet graduation requirements. Registrars schedule space and times for classes, prepare transcripts, and plan commencement ceremonies. They also produce data about classes and students.
An instructional coordinator oversees curriculum and teaching standards by developing instructional material. They also coordinate the implementation of programs by working with teachers and principals. Instructional coordinators assess the effectiveness of instructional programs on a regular basis and make changes as necessary.
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers and department heads deal with the education of students with learning, emotional, physical and mental disabilities. They are responsible for adapting general education lessons to meet the needs of special education students in subjects including reading writing and mathematics.