Inside Program Administrator Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Career Requirements...
I was surprised at how easy it was to enter my specific field. It requires detail oriented people who are agreeable to change." (Administrator; 2014)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied History at University At Buffalo in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

"Surprise: How Rewarding The Job Is And How Little People Know About It...
In talking with many students, I think many of them do not realize that there is a profession in study abroad at universities. I have talked with many students about going into a career like mine. They have never heard of it nor have they thought about what may be required for this position. I was able to get into my position with a BA, but many Study Abroad positions are now requiring an MA in higher education or the like. It also makes a big difference to have some sort of experience with international organization, so I encourage many students to take advantage of these opportunities in college. One of the biggest surprises to me was the perks of being able to travel overseas. I do a lot of traveling throughout the year and I am able to not only see the world, but develop relationships with partner schools overseas. This is extremely rewarding and I think many people do not know that there is a whole field of work dedicated international education and study abroad." (Study Abroad Coordinator; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Communications at Spring Arbor University in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

"Be Prepared For A Long Job Search...
I was most surprised about how hard it was to initially find a job in the field. It is hard to find the first entry-level job if you are in a limited regional area." (Student Activities Coordinator; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Missouri, male
School: Studied College Counseling And Student Development at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota; completed Master degree in 2011

"Statisticians Are A Diverse Group...
The most surprising thing about working as a statistician is the variety of jobs that are available for people with different interests. There are careers in medical research, marketing, business, education, biology, wildlife research, psychology, and many more areas of interest." (Statistician; 2014)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in Louisiana, female
School: Studied Applied Statistics at Louisiana State University in Louisiana; completed Master degree in 2005

"Educational Program Administrators Are Also Counselors...
Most people would be surprised how little 'real world' experience those coming out of Med School or PhD programs have. Program administrators also function as 'real world' counselors; polishing up a CV, how to 'sound' in an email, how to interview for an apartment, etc." (Residency Program Manager; 2013)

Career: 12 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Education at San Francisco State University in California; completed Master degree in 2006

"International Careers Often Keep You Away From Your Family...
Working in international development is not glamorous. International travel and overseas duty stays of two weeks or more really take a lot out of your personal life." (International Development Specialist; 2014)

Career: 20 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, female
School: Studied International Affairs at University Of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; completed Master degree in 1978

"Transferability Of Skills...
The pathway - I moved from classroom teaching into non-profit management and saw that the skills I learned in the classroom applied nicely. Managing adults isn't as different from managing kids as you might think!" (Non-Profit Manager; 2014)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Oklahoma, female
School: Studied Sociology at Emory University in Georgia; completed Bachelor degree in 2004

"Competitive Job Market...
I am surprised at how competitive the field of student affairs is. While there are jobs available, it seems there are often dozens and dozens of candidates for a position and landing the in person interview can be tough. A positive surprise is that I've enjoyed the freedom and independence that comes with having a Master's Degree. I can create my own program initiatives and work to see my vision for the program come to life." (Student Affairs - Suicide Prevention; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Minnesota, female
School: Studied College Counseling And Student Development at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota; completed Master degree in 2012

"Restaurant Work A Good Training Ground...
I have found myself relatively surprised and pleased that working for several years in restaurant service turned out to be among the best training I could have received to prepare me to be successful in my current job (and prospective jobs). While my degree is valuable to me, and I did spend many years working as a full-time musician, I am absolutely happy that I have many options and flexibility because of my restaurant experience. Working with children in a highly transient populated school requires great flexibility and quick, on my feet, thinking. This is something working in restaurants allowed me to finesse. University definitely did not prepare me with that kind of practical skill set." (Arts Education Program Director; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Music at University Of North Texas in Texas in 1999

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Assistant Director Of Education At A Museum: "I really enjoy coming up with new activities for children. I like to help children look closely at objects in museums to help them understand why things are arranged in a museum the way they are. This helps people see museums as telling interesting stories and the same can be applied to activities for kids and families who aren't with a group. We also get to teach things like cooking and dance from different periods which is a lot of fun. The worst part is that since it's a small museum so there's always too much to do." (2011)

Career Background

  Program Administrator Salaries

Career Tips

"Be Prepared...
Work with Career Services experts to get your resume to ideal standards. Also practice interviewing and preparing for all types of interview questions. Look to your graduate school mentors to assist with this." (Student Affairs - Suicide Prevention; 2014)

"Build A Great Career Doing What You Love...
Non-profit work is both personally meaningful and a great (and potentially profitable) field. Find a cause that you feel passionate about and look for a range of opportunities. Advancement comes quickly to high-performers so work hard in your entry level position and demonstrate commitment to the organization." (Non-Profit Manager; 2014)

"Embrace Your Software...
To succeed as a statistician, one must be organized and computer literate. Learn any statistical programming language (R, SAS, etc.) you have the chance to learn and other languages as well. Then find a field where you can apply your expertise to a subject that interests you." (Statistician; 2014)

"Extracurricular Activities Are A Huge Help...
If you wish to be successful, gain as much experience as you can working with groups throughout a college or university. It is also important to volunteer and gain much experience outside of your degree." (Student Activities Coordinator; 2014)

"Important Of Change...
If you want to be successful as an administrator, you should be ready to change with the times and be flexible with your needs." (Administrator; 2014)

"Career Hardships And Hard Choices...
Pursue international careers that require travel before starting a family." (International Development Specialist; 2014)

"Communication And Problem Solving Are Key...
To be a success in as a Program Manager in Education, you have to love people, and be okay with a lot of problem solving." (Residency Program Manager; 2013)

"Get Involved And Learn From Your Study Abroad Coordinators...
Get involved in international programs at your university and get involved in study abroad opportunities. Talk with your coordinators about how they got into their positions." (Study Abroad Coordinator; 2013)

"Lots Of Museum Jobs To Explore...
It's important to get work in a museum trying different positions. There are lots of internships/volunteer work that can give you a sense of the job as well as working at a museum as a guide or docent. There are many jobs in the museum world and they all require different skills, but are also pretty specific to museums. What that means is certain departments like development may accept similar experience in other non-profits that would translate well, but curatorial work, for example, is hard to get experience for in other businesses." (Assistant Director Of Education At A Museum; 2011)