Academic directors work in private schools, colleges, professional schools and universities where they oversee several aspects of education quality and teaching delivery. They also mentor both the teaching staff and students, and liaise with internal and external stakeholders. This career is ideal for professionals who have vast teaching experience and a strong interest in modeling the futures of young people.
Mastering the Skills
Well-developed leadership skills are an asset to academic directors. They must provide guidance and direction to a large staff, which often comprises academic advisers, instructors and enrollment councilors. Academic directors also need strong interpersonal skills to build close relationships with peers, senior administrators, parents and students, and decision-making skills to make effective and well-informed decisions on a variety of educational and noneducation matters. Analytical, critical-thinking, communication and problem-solving skills are also crucial to academic directors.
The primary responsibility of an academic director is to work toward enhancing the quality of education offered in the institution. For example, an academic director working at a college can achieve this by conducting recruitment drives to ensure the institution has enough qualified and competent educators. The academic director also will conduct internal curriculum reviews to ensure content is current and relevant, and meets quality standards. Academic directors also are involved in the development of new academic programs and oversee the integration of learning technologies into teaching.
Interacting with Students
When academic directors are not discharging their administrative functions, they organize meetings with students to gather information on their needs, expectations and ambitions. These directors use this information to develop appropriate student support programs, such as career counseling, and ensure the institution’s services are tailored to the needs of students. Academic directors also contribute to the development of the institutions’ annual budget, preside over staff meetings, implement student disciplinary procedures, maintain positive working relationships with partner institutions and represent their institutions in industry conferences and seminars.
Academic directors often hold graduate degrees in school administration, educational management or a closely related field. Because vast teaching experience is crucial to landing this position, most academic directors begin as teachers and rise through the ranks. Academic directors looking to advance their careers can pursue doctoral degrees in education to improve their prospects of becoming academic principals. Directors with these qualifications also can move into full-time research or secure policy-making positions in educational agencies. In 2013, post-secondary education administrators had a mean annual wage of $100,600, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those in elementary and secondary schools earned $90,670.