In an age where teachers are harder to find in K-12 public education than before, the administrative ranks are starting to follow suit with fewer applicants for principals, assistant principals, superintendents, etc. The job market in the US is strong for job seekers in many professions and the education sector is no exception. There is plenty of room for those seeking to become teachers and administrators. Obtaining a graduate degree in educational administration may be the first step on your path to becoming an administrator.
What is Educational Administration?
Typically, education administration deals with school district business and can have a wide range of duties. While teachers are typically in charge of classes of students, administrators in education are school leaders and oversee the operations of these classes.
Some administrators may be in charge of just a few things if they are employed in a large school district. Smaller districts require administrators to oversee many facets of the district they work for. There are middle management administrators that typically work with building-level issues. District-level personnel work on functions that are relevant to multiple buildings and often report to a board of education.
Versatility is beneficial to an administrator’s success in their position. Since they are likely to work with and supervise teachers, they are usually familiar with and experienced in teaching before making the move to administration. Time management, leadership skills, school law knowledge, interpersonal skills, and problem-solving abilities are all traits that benefit administrators in being successful.
While teachers’ work hours are during the day and are typically on school days, administrators are often found in their workplace early, while staying late, supervising evening activities, and working through the summer. Administrator compensation is significantly higher, but it requires them to work more days and hours. They also often deal with more stressful situations that include high-stakes decision making.
Career Opportunities Available with an Education Administration Degree
Depending on geographic location, there could be many options for a professional with a degree in education administration. In smaller schools or districts, positions will be more limited such as principal or superintendent. However, school districts that serve larger student populations have more facets to their administrative teams. Curriculum director, transportation director, director of buildings and grounds, assistant superintendent, chief financial or business official, assistant principal, dean of students, and special education coordinator are some of the options for career paths in these schools.
Many current administrators are in the last half of their careers which means many vacancies are a result of retirements. This, along with professionals that continue moving up the chain, provides opportunities for those that are looking to get into the field. With higher compensation in most of these administrative positions, mobility is possible for many professionals. Being mobile opens even more opportunities and a higher likelihood of landing a position.
Things to Consider before Pursuing an Educational Administration Degree
It is important to think about career goals before entering into a degree program. Finishing a master’s degree, which is required for almost all certified administrative positions, is a big commitment. Not only will it consume a lot of time and energy for educational professionals who are likely already taxed from a demanding teaching position, it is also requires a financial commitment as well. There are also prerequisites for being accepted into programs and requirements to complete them, which should be considered carefully.
Many graduate students may find themselves still paying on student loans from their undergraduate degree when they decide to pursue a master’s degree. While this shouldn’t deter someone, you should consider your financial options before committing to a program. How will you pay for your degree? There are several routes you can take, including loans, grants and scholarships, fellowships, and loan forgiveness programs, among others.
Most master’s level students also don’t have to pay for housing like many undergrad students, which offsets the cost of attending. Living on a budget is important for any household. This importance is magnified for a person that is starting an advanced degree. After all, budgeting will be a big part of the job as an administrator, particularly at the district level.
Many master’s programs in education are tailored to a teacher’s schedule so they will often offer evening and weekend classes during the school year. Summer classes are typically offered as well during the day or weekends. Many programs are blended, and some schools offer entirely online education administration degree programs. Often, universities offer cohort options for groups that wish to meet in areas closer to their home for convenience.
It’s also important to consider a school that is accredited, offers a degree program that will benefit your career aspirations, and has tuition prices that are reasonable.
There are a lot of factors to consider when determining if and when graduate school is appropriate and deciding where you want to attend. Acquiring a specialist or doctoral degree in education administration in order to be a superintendent is a consideration for those that want to take their career in administration even further. It may be necessary to get your feet wet in education for a few years in order to get a feel for the job. Education administration is a demanding and challenging career path, but one that is also very rewarding.
Looking to further your career in educational administration? Explore our available master’s and doctorate programs here.