Directors of student services work in academic institutions where they oversee the provision of financial aid, housing, health and counselling services to students. They work with various departments to ensure these services are well-coordinated and meet the institution’s quality requirements. If you are outgoing, have excellent communication and organizational skills, and would love to work with students from another front, this is a career to consider.
What Does the Director of Student Services Do?
The general duties of student services directors include:
- Promoting a healthy relationship between parents, students and parents
- Developing the mission and vision for the office of student services
- Developing and implementing the policies needed to improve the quality of a student’s life
- Managing staff working under the office of student services
- Communicating student grievances to top school administrators
- Managing the funds allocated to the student services department
- Providing academic, personal and administrative guidance to students.
These duties may slightly differ depending on the size of the institution. In smaller institutions, for instance, directors are typically in charge of all student service programs, while in large schools they supervise managers of specific services, such as heads of financial aid and student housing.
Directors of student services are based in an office environment, where they work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. However, work may extend to evenings and weekends, especially when students are undertaking extra-curricular activities.
The median annual salary for directors of student services is $55,842, according to Payscale. The following table provides the salary ranges for these directors.
Median annual wage
Lowest earning directors
$39,000 - $46,000
$46,000 - $69,000
$69,000 - $81,000
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
To become a director of student services, complete the following steps:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in counselling or student affairs – This will enable you to secure an entry-level position in student services, which you can use to gain administrative experience
- Pursue a master’s degree in student affairs or student personnel management.
Some of the universities that offer this credential include:
- Colorado State University, Colorado
- New York University Steinhardt, New York
- University of South Carolina, South Carolina
If you are currently practicing as a higher education lecturer, you stand a greater chance of moving into this career. All you need to do is complete a graduate certificate program in student affairs.
To be an effective director of student services, you should have:
- Good leadership, decision-making and problem-solving skills
- Excellent organizational, coordinating and planning skills
- The ability to maintain healthy relationships with students, parents, instructors and support staff
- Good computer skills
- A good understanding of institutional policies and procedures
- A knowledge of national and local law and regulations governing the provision of student services
- Good communication skills.
As a director of student services, vast work experience and advanced qualifications are the tools you need to secure senior administration positions.
To achieve this, you should pursue a doctorate in higher education leadership and administration, and join professional association such as the Educational Leadership Association or the American Association of School Personnel Administrators.
Although some elementary and higher schools hire directors of student services, the main employers are:
- Junior colleges
- Trade schools
- Professional schools
With vast work experience and an advanced degree in educational leadership, you can become a college principal or even university chancellor.
With the need for obtaining higher education increasing, aspiring directors of students services can expect to have strong employment prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of postsecondary education administrators will grow at a faster-than-average rate (15 percent) from 2012 through 2022.
So if you are interested in influencing the futures of students without having to teach them in classrooms, you should go for this career.