A master's degree in higher education and student services can prepare you for an exciting career on a college campus working with students in many different capacities outside the classroom. Depending on your interests, you could specialize in areas such as admissions, orientation, academic advising, career services, student activities, multicultural affairs, residential life programming or financial aid. Ample opportunities for advancement are available.
Student Services Delivery
Student services positions are classified as "Postsecondary Education Administrators" by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job duties include advising students on personal and academic concerns, organizing events, program planning, mentoring and scheduling programs and services. Through graduate coursework, internships and a graduate assistant work, you gain skills in counseling, communication, complex problem solving, team building, technology, programming, leadership development and assessment. After graduation, you will be qualified for jobs in student services offices at various types of schools -- public, private, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities.
If you are hard-working and ambitious, you can quickly advance from an entry-level job to an administrative position as an associate director or director of student services. You still interact with students, but your primary duties will involve staff supervision, budgeting, assessment and facilities management. With considerable experience and additional education, you could pursue a job as dean of students, vice president of student affairs or college president.
Teaching and Scholarship
As a student services professional, you will be continually engaged in professional development activities, such as conducting research and sharing your findings at conference presentations. With a master's degree, you could be an adjunct instructor in education. To become a college professor or an administrator in charge of a student services division or college, you would likely need to complete a doctorate of education.
Jobs in student services are available on college campuses in the United States and throughout the world. According to O*Net Online, the average wage for mid-level students services professionals is $84,280, as of 2011, and the projected rate of growth for this profession is "average" compared to all occupations. Entry-level salaries are much lower and vary depending on the duties of the position and type of institution.
2016 Salary Information for Postsecondary Education Administrators
Postsecondary education administrators earned a median annual salary of $90,760 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, postsecondary education administrators earned a 25th percentile salary of $66,730, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $126,750, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 180,100 people were employed in the U.S. as postsecondary education administrators.
- NASPA.org: What is Student Affairs?
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Postsecondary Administrators Do
- ONetOnline.org: Summary Report for Postsecondary Administrators
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Postsecondary Education Administrators
- Career Trend: Postsecondary Education Administrators
Dr. Mary Dowd is a dean of students whose job includes student conduct, leading the behavioral consultation team, crisis response, retention and the working with the veterans resource center. She enjoys helping parents and students solve problems through advising, teaching and writing online articles that appear on many sites. Dr. Dowd also contributes to scholarly books and journal articles.