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Admissions Director Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become an admissions director. Learn about job qualifications, duties and salary information to find out if this is the career for you.

What Is an Admissions Director?

Admissions directors process applications to determine which students will be accepted into a college or university. They may also be involved in promoting their school and providing information to high schools or prospective students about their school and their school's programs. Admissions directors review data regarding enrollment and graduation numbers and determine how many students they can accept into each program. They review applications to determine which applicants meet the educational requirements and offer acceptance to the students they feel are most qualified and most ideally suited to be successful at their school.

Degree Required Master's degree at minimum; doctorates also available
Education Field of Study Education administration
Job Growth (2018-2028)7% (for all types of postsecondary education administrators)*
Median Salary (2019)$66,791 (for all college/university admissions directors)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Qualifications and Training Do Admissions Directors Need?

Admissions directors and other school administrators typically start their careers as teachers, then earn master's degrees or doctorates to advance. A degree in educational administration at the graduate level plus work experience in admissions is sufficient to become an admissions director. Many schools prefer their admissions directors to have master's degrees, at minimum.

Both master's and doctoral degree programs promote the development of school leaders, although the approach is subtly different. Master's degree programs place more emphasis on the practical challenges of managing a school or school system and doctoral degree programs centralize on education theory and research. Courses in a master's degree program might include curriculum design, administrative technology, school-community relations and human resource management. Doctorate-level courses and seminars might cover school organization, leadership theory and education policy trends. Some master's degree programs provide opportunities to work an administrative internship. Doctoral programs require the completion of a dissertation.

Where Could I Work?

Community colleges, trade schools, 4-year colleges and universities, and private academies are your potential employers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there were 4,726 degree granting postsecondary institutions in 2012 and 33,620 private elementary and secondary schools in the U.S. as of Fall 2013 (http://nces.ed.gov). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) doesn't provide specific figures for admissions directors, but it does project a 7% increase in the employment of education administrators across the board over the 2018-2028 decade. Population growth and an increase in postsecondary school enrollment are expected to drive employment growth.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Your main duties revolve around leading the process of recruiting prospective students, assessing their character and academic capabilities and admitting those who meet your school's standards. While upholding standards, you'll also need to meet enrollment goals. You and the financial aid director will work together to coordinate the allocation of scholarships and loans. Intervals of travel may be part of your regular schedule.

Supporting duties include conferring with colleagues at other schools about their admissions requirements, course offerings and credit transfer policies, analyzing recruiting data, evaluating the effectiveness of admissions programs and facilitating organizational change. Your work will be aided if you have an understanding of communications technology as a tool for outreach and a familiarity with diverse populations.

What Salary Could I Earn?

PayScale.com figures show that the median annual salary of admissions directors at colleges and universities in 2019 was $66,791. For a higher-level role, Salary.com figures from 2019 noted that the median salary among chief admissions officers was $96,915. The middle 50% of earners made between $78,044-$124,331. In related occupations, Salary.com reports that associate admissions directors earned a median of $64,804, with admissions representatives earning a median of $41,523.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Human resources managers and public relations specialists need a minimum of a bachelor's degree to work in their fields. Human resource managers process applications, like admissions directors do, and determine which applicants are most qualified. The difference is that human resource managers are hiring applicants for employment, while admissions directors are offering students acceptance into a school program.

Public relations specialists use information that's provided through speeches, videos or publications to try to inform the public or influence their view of something or someone, such as a celebrity, a company, or a policy that they want people to support. Specialists' duties are similar to the work that admissions directors do when they provide information about their school and programs to potential students to entice them to apply to their school.