What Does a School Administrator Do? (With Salary)

Updated 23 January 2023

Working as a school administrator can be a meaningful and rewarding career. Administrators work in different educational institutions, such as preschools, daycare centres, elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities. Learning about the different duties and responsibilities of a school administrator can help you decide if it's a career you want to pursue. In this article, we explain what a school administrator does, provide a step-by-step guide to becoming one, list their qualities, describe the benefits of the role and provide information on the average salary.

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What does a school administrator do?

Learning the answer to 'what does a school administrator do' is important when you're looking to enter this field. A school administrator is an education professional who provides leadership to ensure a school runs smoothly. They work with staff, parents, students and members of the public. Their daily responsibilities vary depending on the type and size of the institution they are working. To be aware of all aspects that affect the smooth running of the school, they keep in close contact with their team of staff members.

Depending on the size and type of educational institution they work for, here are some responsibilities that may be part of a school administrator's job :

Overseeing financial matters

A school administrator works closely with the finances of a school. In smaller institutions, they may work with a bookkeeper. Larger institutions may require them to oversee a full financial team. Some of their financial responsibilities may include:

  • establishing and adhering to budgets

  • planning and kick-starting fundraising initiatives as needed to help the school achieve its goals

  • connecting and liaising with corporate sponsors for specific school enhancement projects

  • determining staff salaries and annual increases

  • overseeing the debtor department to track school fee income

Managing staff

The school administrator oversees the interviewing and recruiting of new staff members with the help of board members and other senior staff. The administrator may facilitate new staff member orientation. Disciplining and d ismissing staff when needed is also part of a school administrator's job. Other staff management functions may include:

  • drawing up staff contracts of employment

  • conducting ongoing staff assessments

  • mediating staff conflict resolution when disagreements arise

Supporting staff

To run a school successfully, a school administrator focuses on supporting their teaching staff and meeting their needs. By supporting the teachers, they create a healthy learning environment for the students. Good school administrators may support their teaching staff by:

  • providing resources for the teachers, such as teaching aids and technology

  • creating a sense of collaboration and support among staff

  • placing teachers in classes of the age groups they are best suited to

  • providing ongoing training opportunities for professional development

  • listening to teachers' needs and suggestions

  • advising staff on difficult school-related problems

  • providing time for teachers to build relationships with students

Working closely with students

School administrators work closely with the students in their schools. They counsel students and are available to help them through challenges. S chool administrators mentor students elected to leadership positions and inspire students to make the most of their talents and opportunities. The administrator also takes on the role of disciplinarian.

Related: What Does a Student Support Officer Do? (With Salary)

Implementing education programs

A school administrator may oversee the creation and implementation of education programs. They may also create new curricula. They are also likely to evaluate courses and maintain a high-quality standard of education in the institution.

Ensuring compliance

Ensuring that the school complies with state and national authorities is within the responsibilities of a school administrator. They oversee a school's compliance with any governing bodies that the school belongs to. Compliance is important for a school to meet the educational and developmental goals of their students and look after their safety and health.

Handling logistics

Handling all aspects of a school's logistics falls to the school administrator. They can set up the school schedule and year planner. Part of their job is maintaining the school's records and reports. Other logistics they oversee may include:

Maintaining facilities

School administrators oversee the maintenance of the school's buildings, grounds and other facilities. They work with the ground staff to ensure all amenities are in good working order. School administrators hire contractors for repair work or maintenance jobs when necessary.

Planning events

This includes planning various activities and meetings for the benefit of the school. These can include fundraisers, sports days, concerts, family days and other events that would benefit the school directly. At other times, schools may run charity events to raise money for charities.

Overseeing new building projects

The school administrator supervises any new building projects that the school undertakes. They keep the building project on budget and sign off on payments due. If a staff member leads the project, the school administrator works closely with them to oversee and advise.

Managing public relations

The school administrator represents the school to the public. In a smaller school, they may fulfil the role of a public relations officer in attracting new students to the school. They speak at events as a representative of the school.

Guiding school vision

School administrators are strategic thinkers that play a major part in shaping the vision of an institute of learning. They work in consultation with other school stakeholders to establish the mission and ethos of the school. The school administrator implements projects that guide the school toward reaching values, goals and objections.

How to become a school administrator

To become a school administrator, you can follow these steps:

1. Earn a degree

To become a school administrator usually requires a master's degree in education or administration. Teachers who would like to become administrators may add an administration certification to their teaching qualification. As part of this degree, you may learn skills such as:

  • leadership

  • management of finances

  • management of human resources

  • curriculum development

2. Gain teaching experience

Many educational institutions appoint administrative professionals with two or three years of teaching experience. You may have opportunities to work as a classroom or teacher assistant while still a student. Teaching experience allows you to gain valuable insight into how a school runs and the dynamics of leading a school's teaching staff.

3. Get your teaching licence

Check the requirements set out by the local regulatory authorities. To register with your local teacher regulatory authority, check their prerequisites and show that you meet the teaching standards by going through an assessment. Teaching licences are renewable after a time set by local authorities.

4. Apply for positions

Once you have a qualification, gained experience and have your license, you can start looking for school administrator position openings in the area your license applies to. Network with teaching colleagues or check job websites for advertised positions and look for those that would be a good fit for you.

Related: How to Become a School Principal

Qualities of a school administrator

Working as a school administrator takes a specific personality type, skills and passion for education. Temperament is important, as leading an academic institution requires a stable, steadfast approach. Successful school administrators are usually assertive, energetic and enthusiastic.

They are optimistic and confident in their abilities to lead and guide. Great school administrators are naturally motivational and encourage those around them whenever opportunities arise. Often extroverted, they are well-spoken. They have an exceptional ability to communicate well and are often creative people. Here are the leading qualities of a good school administrator:

  • excellent planning skills

  • sound judgment and decision-making

  • strong public relation skills to work with parents, students, the public and regulatory bodies

  • conflict management skills

  • outstanding organisational ability

  • top-notch communication skills, verbal and written

  • fine attention to detail

  • problem-solving ability

  • compassion, empathy and genuine care

  • sociable with a high emotional intelligence

  • well-developed diplomatic skills

  • working well independently and within a team

  • previous classroom or school experience

  • knowing and understanding school policies

  • protecting the children in your care from harm

Related: What Is Conflict Management? The Ultimate Guide

Benefits of working as a school administrator

As a school administrator, you are in a unique position of influence. Your input can shape the lives of the students and staff under your care. Being a school administrator comes with benefits such as:

  • working in a learning-focused environment

  • having opportunities to lead

  • enjoying work-related travel opportunities

  • working in a creative environment

  • having job stability

  • having high salary potential

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

A school administrator's average salary

On average, a school administrator earns $115,990 per year. They work in an office environment, with paperwork and meetings making up a large part of their day. The work hours are regular daytime, although compulsory meetings and school events may take place after hours.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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