Education Degree Jobs to Watch

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A job candidate shakes hands with a university hiring manager

Studying education at the graduate level provides an opportunity to get in touch with the latest practices powering the diverse and vibrant world of academia. When considering whether to pursue such a degree, it’s natural to ponder the types of jobs that could result. Rather than point to a single profession, a doctorate in education (Ed.D.) can teach foundational knowledge to help with a number of different positions.

Today’s community colleges and four-year colleges and universities are large-scale employers, and their hiring goes beyond professors. The administrative and support roles within these institutions may be ideal career paths for education degree graduates. These are the departments and people tasked with designing programs and policies, and dictating the student experience within schools of all sizes and descriptions.

An education degree may help candidates seeking jobs within higher education prepare to deal with its unique conditions. Academia is a field governed by public sector policies, with trends and patterns that don’t perfectly match any other profession. Taking on a role at a college or university may be easier for someone who has taken related graduate-level courses.

The Higher Education Hiring Climate

Fortunately for people seeking well-compensated roles in the field of education, academic institutions plan to hire at steady rates over the next few years.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that administrative roles in postsecondary education will grow at a rate of 7% from 2018 to 2028. That number is higher than the 5% expansion predicted for all jobs over the same period. The fact that student enrollment is expected to rise over the coming decade according to the BLS is the key factor behind the growth in administrator roles: More undergraduates needing academic services means a greater need for support staff.

The BLS did note that not every advanced higher education role is predicted to grow at the same pace. Some jobs within colleges and universities ― such as provosts and deans ― are limited by nature, since each institution tends to have a limited number of these professionals. Other jobs in education, including registrars and admissions staff members, stand to grow as colleges and universities boost the scale of these departments to cope with more student intake.

According to the BLS, most of these non-instructor employees at colleges and universities work year-round, even during the summer recess. Some of the roles do experience reduced hours when classes are not in session, however.

Education Workplaces Seeking Experienced Professionals

Four-year colleges, community colleges and state universities have employment figures governed by public sector budgets, according to the BLS. When local governments have budget surpluses, they can step up educational hiring. However, deficits will limit these institutions’ ability to expand staffing. Private schools are less tied to government funding, and their financial health will change on a case-by-case basis.

When comparing administrative education personnel hiring between public and private colleges and universities and community colleges, the BLS reported the former employs 79% of professionals in the industry, and the latter 13%. Some of these employees will start in entry-level positions and work their way up to leadership roles, while others may come from other academic sector roles. The BLS noted admissions and student affairs departments are among the teams that tend to hire some applicants who do not have a professional history in the education sector.

While community colleges, four-year colleges and universities are clearly the main employers of administrative education personnel, there are other related workplaces where professionals can use education degree skills. For example, positions at government agencies dealing directly with school policy could be well-suited for employees with this knowledge base. Graduates of these programs could also seek third-party consulting roles.

Jobs for Higher Education Degree Holders

Just as an Ed.D. program contains numerous topic areas within the general scope of education, there are numerous related career paths at community colleges, four-year colleges and universities. These many distinct professions each call for specific skills and interests from their employees, and academic institutions are at their best when all these roles are staffed with dedicated and knowledgeable experts.

The following are just a few of the most promising higher education jobs for Ed.D. graduates. Each of these career options provides a path for advancement and the potential to influence important decisions. These jobs will test employees’ interpersonal skills, such as creative problem-solving and communication, alongside their knowledge of the present academic climate.

Director of Career Services

The career services department within a college or university is responsible for helping faculty, alumni and current students. Roles within this department, leading up to director positions, are well-suited for professionals eager to make strong connections with employers, as well as those who have a desire and motivation to create impactful and useful programs for students. The Balance, a website dedicated to helping people manage their money, noted some of these career services jobs include counselors, coordinators and assistant directors, all serving a department director.

The promise of valuable job opportunities after graduation, or even of internship chances while still in school, can attract prospective students to an institution. The career services department is a major contributor to a college or university’s reputation and image. Career services professionals will set up networking between students and alumni, and create workshops, perform assessments and coach current enrollees and graduates.

The Balance added there are a range of salaries present within a typical career services department. Beginning roles such as career counselors earn an average of $48,358 annually, while a more experienced professional such as a chief career development officer can earn $100,497. Employees who rise through the ranks can go from assisting students on a case-by-case basis to setting policies that affect their institutions at a high level.

Academic Dean, Provost or Chief Academic Officer

An academic dean is in charge of an entire college or school, overseeing strategic decisions. A university containing specialized schools for law, medicine or other areas may have a dean for each of these courses of study. Academic deans must ensure the programs at their schools are up to the standards laid down by regulators and accreditation authorities. The next level of authority above this role goes to provosts, also known as chief academic officers, who directly assist and advise institutions’ presidents.

A provost’s impact on college or university policies can be significant. These leaders are tasked with inspecting budgets, giving input on hiring faculty or granting tenure and directing research programs. Unlike in departments such as admissions and career services, the career path that leads to a role as provost and academic dean is not clearly laid out. People appointed to these roles will have likely put in long years of service in the education field.

The median annual salary for an academic dean is $88,418, according to PayScale. The professionals who become deans, provosts and chief academic officers earn their higher salaries by providing an essential connection between various departments. Part of their job requires staying in touch with other administration leaders to provide a direction for the institution as a whole.

Dean of Students

While the academic dean makes decisions about the strategic direction of a school, the dean of students is directly involved in crafting the student experience and ensuring every enrollee at a community college, four-year college or university has a chance to succeed in a nurturing learning environment. At larger institutions, the dean of students will work closely with an assistant.

Professionals who want to become a dean of students can take on other responsibilities within the department of student affairs. Some of these positions are based on providing academic advice and guidance, while others are targeted at separate elements of the educational experience, such as extracurricular programs and housing. When parents or guardians have comments or concerns, they deal with the student affairs department.

At some smaller colleges, athletics may be part of the student affairs team’s primary work, while at larger institutions sports has its own department. In all cases, the programs that assist enrollees in their day-to-day life are created, assessed and maintained by the department of student affairs, overseen by the dean of students. As with career services, student affairs decision-makers have a large amount of control over the experience of attending a particular institution. Per PayScale, these professionals earn a median of $62,482 annually.

Director of Admissions

Admissions departments are among the groups most likely to grow and expand as overall student enrollment in higher education increases. Community colleges, four-year colleges and universities will need staff members who can assess applicant performance, conduct interviews and determine the standards for selecting its incoming class. Admissions and enrollment personnel are also in charge of events such as campus tours designed to promote schools to prospective students.

The Balance website specified entry-level roles such as admissions counselors and representatives can lead to more prestigious positions such as associate director, director and vice president of admissions. People seeking entry into academia from other fields may find valuable opportunities in enrollment, since these teams consist of many employees with varying levels of seniority. The teams may grow as overall student populations rise.

Due to the many positions that go into an admissions department, it’s unsurprising that salaries cover a wide range of figures. The Balance stated admissions counselors earn an average of $40,334, while professionals who rise to chief enrollment officer make $209,415. From entry-level to the C-suite, applicants who want to guide students into college can find rewarding work in admissions.

Director of Financial Services

Higher education organizations of all sizes and descriptions face complex financial requirements. For business and financial services teams, understanding these needs and creating policies to meet them are key responsibilities. The director of financial services oversees these tasks, assisted by a varied group of employees. Transaction oversight and record keeping are among these professionals’ duties, which blend strategic priorities from the corporate world with education’s regulatory environment.

In addition to performing everyday financial duties such as selecting vendors and setting contract terms, business departments have to analyze financial data and be prepared to conduct audits when there are irregularities or problems with the numbers. The Balance specified that many roles fall under the general financial category, including accountants, controllers, treasurers, payroll professionals and several levels of assistant leading up to the director.

From managing donations to creating internal budget request processes, financial responsibilities in academia cover a number of scenarios. Due to the variance in financial duties, salaries range from an average of $51,108 on accounting teams to $193,860 for chief business officers. The Balance added mid-ranked department members such as purchasing managers earn an average of $70,003.

Professor of Higher Education

While most of the roles using the knowledge from education degree programs are on the administrative and support side, some professors may also benefit from the Ed.D.’s up-to-date overview of college and university practices. Most notably, professors who teach classes in postsecondary instruction can use the knowledge of academia’s unique regulatory, administrative and organizational concepts in their own curriculum planning.

These professors, whether at the assistant, associate or full-tenured level, will be tasked with giving lectures, performing research and helping their students build their knowledge, all while growing their own prospective teaching careers. Education students may perform intensive research on the way to preparing and defending their theses, and professors play an active part in assisting with this process.

The hiring of professors is handled somewhat differently than other staff members, especially for academics who manage to secure roles on the tenure track. After years of contributions to their institutions, if these instructors get their tenure approved, they take on established and secure roles within their departments, with the freedom to choose their own research subjects and immunity to firing without cause. The median professor of higher education salary is $80,500 per PayScale, but the actual figure will vary widely based on length of service.

Skills and Experience Hiring Managers Look For

A university departmental leader shakes hands with a new hire

When seeking a secure role with the potential to become a significant career step, applicants may encounter strong competition. The key to standing out in a crowded and accomplished field of candidates could involve building a resume that delivers both unimpeachable academic credentials and an impressive work history. Degree programs that can coexist with professional work represent potential paths to such a diversified resume.

Students who study for an online Ed.D. can keep their full-time jobs while taking courses on their own schedules, using asynchronous digital learning tools to view lectures and file assignments. Once they have their doctorates, Ed.D. graduates can use these credentials to distinguish themselves from fellow applicants. The BLS noted minimum educational requirements for administrative positions vary, with some roles open to people with master’s degrees or higher.

The BLS noted that in addition to years of educational experience and a relevant degree, hiring managers tend to value candidates who have the soft skills and personal abilities to succeed in the highly interactive world of educational administration. This means keen organization skills, alongside problem-solving, communications and technology aptitude. Through degree elements such as an internship, Ed.D. graduates may build useful soft skills alongside the hard skills they learn in classes.

Ed.D. Careers and the Curriculum

The coursework students complete while earning an Ed.D. is designed with the modern academic world in mind, encompassing the many responsibilities professionals take on within higher education institutions. In Bradley’s online Ed.D. program, these classes are overseen by experienced faculty members with deep connections to college and university leadership. Through lectures and question-and-answer sessions, participants can make use of these instructors’ knowledge.

Courses such as Financial Affairs in Higher Education and Student and Academic Affairs are aimed at imparting information that will be useful in particular school administration roles. Students will learn from up-to-date examples that illustrate many important and unique aspects of leading a department in a community college, four-year college or university. Other classes such as The Contemporary Learner and Learning in an Era of Technology apply across all academic roles, preparing graduates for the way the educational experience has changed over time.

Such specific and informative courses may assist students in an attempt to become not just an administrative professional in higher education, but a successful and impactful contributor with a high career ceiling. There are a wide variety of ways to put an education degree to work in the professional field, and colleges and universities of all sizes will need professionals who grasp their unique situation. Becoming such an informed and experienced candidate could be the first step on a rewarding career path.

To find out more about the top education degree jobs and how Ed.D. courses relate to these roles, check out the program page.

Recommended Readings:

What is the difference between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D.?

Discover what it takes to work as an academic dean at a college or university


The Balance – Best Jobs in Higher Education Administration

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Postsecondary Education Administrators

Bradley University – In-Demand Job Titles in Higher Educational Administration

PayScale – Average Academic Affairs Dean Salary

PayScale – Average Dean of Students Salary

PayScale – Average Professor of Education Salary