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Academic Advisor Career

How to Become an Academic Advisor

Sometimes, students require guidance while they’re working toward receiving a diploma, or simply completing a course. That’s why many schools employ one or more academic advisors—individuals who can inform a student’s actions and help them take steps to achieve their educational goals.

Academic advisors do far more than counsel struggling students or sign off on class transfer forms. As an academic advisor, you can be involved in almost every stage of a student’s education process. You’ll help students select their classes, research potential programs for student involvement, even work with professors to help students better understand academic fields.

If you value education and thrive in a communicative environment that allows you to exercise leadership and guidance skills, you should consider the role of an academic advisor.

What Is an Academic Advisor?

An academic advisor guides students—and individuals who might become students—through the academic admissions process. You will help students select their classes, make decisions about their academic schedules, and continually determine whether their academic path is leading them toward the future they want for themselves.

Pretty teacher talking to the young pupils in classroom at the elementary school

What Does an Academic Advisor Do?

Academic advisors fulfill a wide variety of responsibilities. Between communicating with students and researching specific academic programs on their behalf, you’ll find yourself busy each day satisfying student concerns.

The specific duties of an academic advisor can include:

  • Meeting with students to discuss their educational and long-term goals.
  • Helping students craft a schedule that plays to their strengths and allows them sufficient time to complete coursework.
  • Helping students take advantage of academic resources, including tutors, online platforms, and extracurricular opportunities, to enhance their academic experience.
  • Assisting students in improving study habits.
  • Researching a school’s academic fields to leverage your familiarity with all courses when advising students.
  • Updating student reports and keeping track of student progress.
  • Taking necessary action if students display abnormal behaviors.
  • Helping students to avoid academic stress and ultimately enjoy their educational experience.

These and other responsibilities make academic advisors rewarding resources for all students at a school, university, or other post-secondary institution.

Do Academic Advisors Work in the Summer?

Unlike some other members of the academic staff, academic advisors still work hard during the summer. Summer months are one of the most productive times of the year for academic advisors: With fewer active student needs, advisors can concentrate their focus on preparing incoming students for academic life.

Though both high school and college academic advisors work during the summer, the specific work they accomplish during the summer months can vary greatly. High school advisors will often turn their attention toward connecting with incoming students to explain basic aspects of high school life. They will also familiarize themselves with any new developments in college preparatory requirements, and any university programs they believe students might show interest in.

On the other hand, college academic advisors often spend time familiarizing themselves with any recent developments in a teacher’s curriculums or class requirements, to ensure that they can best advise students once the school semester begins.


What Education and Qualifications Does an Academic Advisor Need?

Before you can begin a career as an academic advisor, you will need to satisfy a few basic educational requirements. You’ll need to start with a bachelor’s degree, typically in education. In order to advance your career and pursue a future in academic advising, a master's degree in curriculum and instruction may be needed. This type of degree will help you understand curriculum, high school and college scheduling and student needs, and will give you insights into how to work with students on a daily basis. These skills are critical for a career as an academic advisor.

Curriculum and Instruction – M.S.

An online master's degree for those who have educational...

An online master's degree for those who have...

An online master's degree for those who have educational experience and are looking to further their careers with a graduate program focused on curriculum development and design.

  • Time: 72% of grads earned this degree within 18 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,635 per 6-month term.

Coursework in this program covers the following areas of study:

  • Curriculum theory and development
  • Instructional theory
  • Research fundamentals

Help schools create engaging, meaningful, and memorable learning experiences to improve learning outcomes for all students with this M.S. degree.


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What Skills Does an Academic Advisor Need?

Academic advisors share many of the same skills as good teachers. You will succeed in this role as you develop skill sets that benefit your daily tasks. These skills can help you communicate effectively, perform proactive research, and ultimately nurture informed, forward-thinking students.

The exact skills that an academic advisor needs can include:

  • Interpersonal communication: The ability to correspond effectively with students, their parents, and all members of the school’s academic community.
  • Academic research: The ability to continually research and familiarize yourself with any new developments in a teacher’s required materials, pre-class prerequisites, or other course requirements.
  • Empathy: The ability to understand the experiences of a student and be sensitive to their struggles, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. 
  • Problem-solving: The ability to solve problems as they arise, primarily by pairing students with opportunities and helpful resources that help them further their education.
  • Technological proficiency: The ability to effectively use all necessary pieces of technology at work, including any computers, tablets, phones, communication platforms, and online resources.
  • Public speaking: The ability to address large groups of people with confidence, typically large groups of students and their families.

These and other skills can help you thrive in an educational environment as you fulfill the role of an academic counselor and help students pursue their goals.

How Much Do Academic Advisors Make?

$44,637

The exact income of an academic advisor can vary, depending on your employer, employer’s location, employer’s public or private funding, and years of experience. In general, the salary of an academic advisor can average $44,637 with a range of roughly $35,000 to $58,000. Advisors who invest in professional development — through educational seminars, workshops, and job advancement — can eventually assume teaching and educational management positions, if they desire to do so.

What is the Projected Job Growth?

8%

Employment of school counselors and academic advisors is expected to rise 8% from 2019 to 2029. This growth rate is much faster than the average across all occupations. The expected growth potential for academic advisors parallels the expected high demand for specific types of teachers, representative of a larger need for individuals willing to fill education-related jobs.

Where Do Academic Advisors Work?

Schools

Academic advisors commonly work onsite at a school or university. Since academic advisors need to personally communicate with students, this physical proximity to the school’s learning environment gives them the freedom to meet with students at convenient times.

Interested in Becoming an Academic Advisor?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.

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