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A program administrator coordinates, directs and manages a particular service or program. In reality, the job is much more complex, however, and occurs in diverse settings. Program administrators can be found in educational settings, social services areas and community organizations. The actual job description might vary, depending on the organization and setting, but similarities exist across the board.
Skills and Characteristics
A program administrator must have many basic management skills. Among these are leadership and managerial skills to motivate and lead the employees they supervise, human resources skills related to staff selection, evaluation and discipline, and financial skills to create and manage budgets and track financial outcomes. Interpersonal skills are necessary to work with different people within the agency, community members and the population served. Time management is required to coordinate multiple projects and details. Writing skills are necessary to create reports, brochures, newsletters and other documents about the program.
The primary function of a program administrator is to ensure that the program or project for which she is responsible is successful and effective. The program administrator selects and supervises staff to carry out the program’s activities, monitors their work and coaches or mentors them in their daily duties. Program administrators must manage the program budget and account for expenditures, write grant reports and sometimes find funding to support the program and staff salaries. To evaluate the success of the program, the administrator observes program activities, collects data and creates reports of all findings for senior management, a board of directors or a grant funder.
Secondary duties for program administrators vary according to the program, but they commonly include communicating with stakeholders and the population served, and promoting the program or informing the community at large of the services offered. Some program managers organize and coordinate program events and might conduct outreach activities designed to involve the community in the organization’s activities. In the educational arena, the program administrator typically collaborates with teachers, school administrators and parents. Program administrators might have additional duties such as ordering supplies and equipment, managing staff meetings, and strategic planning and new program development.
Education and Outlook
Although the educational requirements for program administrators vary according to the program, a bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum educational requirement. Some places of employment might accept a combination of an associate's degree and experience, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The necessary educational degrees vary according to the type of employment environment. For example, educational and early child care program administrators typically need a degree in education or child development, while a degree in urban sustainability is more likely if the program administrator works in urban improvement. Some organizations could require a master’s degree. The BLS reports the projected job growth in this occupation -- which it calls social and community services managers -- will be 21 percent from 2012 to 2022. The average growth rate for all occupations is projected to be 11 percent.
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.