Teaching, Research, and Leadership Careers in Academic Administration

By Sarah Hildebrand

Careers in Academic Administration

“Academic administration” is a catch-all term for the many university-based positions that support higher education. Academic administrators play vital roles in the larger university ecosystem, as well as provide direct support to students, faculty, and other staff. These positions enable you to put your degree to work in intellectually and personally fulfilling ways. The diversity of positions means that you can find a career that aligns your topical interest area with the type of work you enjoy doing. Plus, academic administration is a great alternative to the tenure track.

There are a wide variety of positions within academic administration and many are suitable for individuals with advanced degrees from a range of disciplines. Below is a list of popular career opportunities in academic admin that can be found at colleges and universities across the United States.

12 Careers in Academic Administration that You Should Consider

Academic Advisement

Academic advisers help students select majors and courses. They have detailed knowledge of major requirements in order to keep students on track to graduate. Some advisers may work with specific populations, such as first generation, low-income, or traditionally underrepresented students. Academic advisers play mentoring roles and may assist students in developing study skills.

Career Counseling

Career counselors assist students with the job search process from start to finish. They help students explore career options, review job documents such as CVs and cover letters, and conduct mock interviews. They may also run professional development workshops that teach students the skills they need to succeed on the job market.

Centers for the Humanities

Directors and staff at centers for the humanities must stay on top of recent developments and ongoing conversations within the field. They are in charge of developing programming, such as lectures and workshops, which encourages interdisciplinary dialogue within the institution and promotes public engagement with academic scholarship in the wider community.

Core Facilities

Staff in core facilities take on both research and administrative roles, overseeing facility operations and managing shared resources. They work to maintain scientific equipment and educate users on new technologies. Staff may interact with students, faculty, and external researchers to enable collaborations and provide training on innovative research techniques.

Grant Writing & Management

Grant writers and managers must have strong research and writing skills. They may be involved in finding, writing, and implementing grants, as well as tracking their progress and ensuring compliance with grant guidelines.

Labs

Lab coordinators ensure lab safety. They maintain all lab equipment, keep inventory, manage lab use, prep labs for undergraduate courses, and assist faculty during labs. Lab coordinators must have an educational background in science, as well as strong communication and administrative skills.

Marketing Offices

Marketing staff curate a university’s brand by developing media and marketing strategies. They may be responsible for the university’s social media accounts, drafting press materials, and implementing and assessing content strategies.

Teaching & Learning Centers

Directors and staff at teaching and learning centers are at the cutting edge of pedagogical practice. They provide support to faculty by helping to troubleshoot teaching concerns and may be responsible for helping to train incoming faculty and graduate students. Staff work one-on-one with faculty members, as well as develop workshops and other programming that promote innovative teaching techniques.

Tutoring Centers

Tutors work one-on-one with students to ensure academic success. Tutoring centers may be discipline-specific, or they may work across disciplines. Additionally, directors of tutoring centers are responsible for managing tutoring staff, departmental operations, and budgets.

Science Outreach Centers

Staff at science outreach centers develop educational programming related to STEM fields. They establish partnerships with K-12 educators, university faculty, and their wider communities.

Study Abroad Offices

Staff working in study abroad offices recruit students to participate in study abroad programs and assist them in the process from pre-departure to re-entry. They develop and oversee new initiatives by forming partnerships with institutions abroad, as well as manage, track, and assess ongoing programs.

Sustainability Centers

Staff at campus sustainability centers help colleges develop environmentally sustainable practices by implementing programs to protect natural resources. They help faculty incorporate sustainability lessons into courses across the curriculum, as well as conduct educational outreach for students and larger communities.

Find Out More about Working in Academic Administration

For more information, check out Alumni Aloud episode 9, which features an interview with Graduate Center alumna Sara Remedios, the Associate Dean of Students and Director of Academic and Learning Initiatives at Columbia University School of General Studies. Also, Alumni Aloud episode 32 features alumna Astrid Rodriguez, who works at NYU managing the implementation of Student Success initiatives in Enrollment Management.