New Jersey Career Profile: School Administrator

New Jersey Career Profile: School Administrator

Behind every school is a team of hardworking administrators who oversee everything from curriculum development to budgets to discipline.

New Jersey has one of the most highly educated populaces in the U.S., but the education starts earlier than the college years. Be a part of developing strong schools and strong students by becoming a school administrator.

Who Are the Administrators?

In public schools, the most visible administrator in the school district is the superintendent, while each individual school is run by a principal.

At the college level, the president leads the entire campus, while deans lead each college or department.

There are dozens of other administrative positions at both the K-12 and post-secondary level, all working in tandem to ensure a positive educational environment.


  • Superintendents are the district's top-level administrator and hold ultimate responsibility for everything that occurs within the school system.
  • Principals are responsible for all personnel in a particular school, including their hiring, training, evaluation, and motivation. They also work with teachers to develop and maintain high curriculum standards; plan budgets; formulate school policy and goals; and ensure academic standards are met (especially those dictated by federal, state, and local governments).
  • Assistant or vice principals have more responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the school, including scheduling classes; ordering textbooks; coordinating transportation, custodial, cafeteria, and other services; student discipline; social/recreational programs; health and safety issues; working with the principal to develop curriculum; evaluation of teachers; and management of school-community relations.
  • Subject-area administrators are responsible for everything that falls under a particular subject, such as mathematics. They evaluate curriculum and teaching techniques and handle testing and class placement.
  • Other administrators might include directors of college counseling, athletic directors, or directors of student affairs, who oversee particular programs within a school system.

Post-secondary (Colleges and Universities)

  • Presidents are often the most visible face of the college or university. They serve as chief executive officer and generally are responsible for planning programs and developing innovative ideas; leadership of the entire college system, and external relations. They hold ultimate responsibility for the performance of the university.
  • Provosts assist presidents; appoint faculty; make decisions about tenure; develop budgets, academic policies, and programs; and direct deans and chairpersons of departments.
  • Deans of admissions recruit, evaluate, and admit students based on the college's established acceptance criteria.
  • Directors of development oversee a college's fundraising efforts.
  • Academic deans direct the individual colleges or departments that comprise a college or university. They also handle academic issues that affect their department or college.
  • Deans of students oversee student programs and ensure the well-being of students.
  • Department heads/chairs' responsibilities include teaching, coordinating schedules, making teaching assignments, developing budgets, and hiring and evaluating faculty.
  • Registrars register students, maintain records and transcripts, record grades, plan commencement, develop schedules and catalogs, and maintain enrollment and other statistics.
  • Student services coordinators (such as vice presidents of student affairs or student life) are responsible for student programs, such as resident life, health, counseling, and career services.

Most administrators say that working with students and other staff and watching them flourish in an educational environment is the greatest reward of the job.

Administrators also list having a positive effect on the lives of students and teachers as one of the greatest rewards of the job. Motivating teachers, meeting achievement goals, and leading others to success are other commonly noted rewarding aspects of administrative positions.

Educational Requirements

K-12 administrators generally have a master's degree (often in education administration or educational leadership) or doctoral degree (typically a doctorate in education, or Ed. D).

Before embarking on the administrative path, educators usually spend several years teaching, and then move into supporting administrative positions before advancing to roles as principal or superintendent.

New Jersey requires all administrators to hold administrative certification. See the New Jersey Department of Education for details.

Requirements are similar at the post-secondary level in public and private colleges. Top positions usually require significant experience as a professor as well as a terminal degree, such as a Ph.D. or Ed. D.

Education Schools

USC Rossier School of Education

Argosy University

Advice to Aspiring Administrators

Many new school administrators are shocked when the reality of the job hits them. New administrators are often unprepared for the long hours, daily crises, and overall stress that comes from the new leadership position.

Veteran administrators recommend talking to other administrators, getting the best possible education, and using experiences from teaching.

But stress and long hours are met with good salaries and the reward of making an impact on the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of students on a daily basis.

For more information on teaching and related careers, visit

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