Top 5 rewarding higher education jobs

10 mins
TPP Recruitment

By TPP Recruitment

Are you considering a career in higher education? The field changes significantly as universities and higher education institutions adapt to new trends and tackle fresh challenges. Professionals in top roles are driving innovation in higher education jobs during shifting student demographics and evolving funding models.

These changes present opportunities for individuals like you to make a meaningful impact. Whether you're interested in teaching, research, student support, or administration, you can contribute to the sector's growth and shape the future of education.

This guide will explore the top 5 rewarding and sought-after roles within higher education, providing insights into each position's responsibilities and opportunities.

1. Professors / Lecturers

If you're considering a position in higher education, roles like professors and lecturers are key. Nearly half of the academic staff balance teaching and research, making these jobs vital for educational institutions. As an educator, you'll guide students, share knowledge, and conduct research that advances your field.

Though roles like Professors and Lecturers fall under the same academic umbrella, they have distinct differences. Professors typically hold more senior positions, engaging in teaching, research, and leadership. They contribute to academic governance, guide research projects, and mentor students.

On the other hand, lecturers primarily focus on teaching within higher education. While they may also conduct research, their main role is to deliver high-quality education and support to students. Both career paths are highly sought after and essential within academia, each offering unique opportunities for making a significant impact.

Responsibilities 

As someone passionate about education and academia, stepping into a role in higher education allows you to make a meaningful impact on students' lives. Professors and lecturers play a vital role in shaping the academic experiences of undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Here's how you may contribute on a daily basis as a Professor:

  • Conducting cutting-edge research: Leading innovative research initiatives.
  • Mentoring graduate students: Guiding the next generation of scholars.
  • Offering academic leadership: Shaping departmental or university policies.
  • Teaching advanced courses: Delivering high-level courses integrating the latest research.
  • Engaging in public outreach: Representing the university in professional forums.

Here's how you may contribute on a daily basis as a Lecturer: 

  • Guiding and supporting students: Providing academic guidance and support as students progress.
  • Developing course content and materials: Creating educational resources to enhance student learning.
  • Engaging in research: Contributing to scholarly works within your field.
  • Providing academic supervision: Overseeing student research projects.
  • Participating in departmental tasks: Collaborating with colleagues and contributing to departmental functions.

Requirements

Before taking on this fulfilling role, it's essential to consider the following qualifications employers typically require. 

Skills and education

A higher-education Professor or Lecturer career requires several essential skills and educational qualifications. Both roles share some common foundational needs:

Common requirements for Professors and Lecturers:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Interpersonal abilities
  • Organisational skills
  • Adaptability and creativity
  • Academic subject knowledge
  • Doctoral Degree (PhD or equivalent): Advanced knowledge and research capabilities
  • Preferred experience in teaching the subject area
  • Strong research skills

However, there are distinct differences in the specific requirements for each role:

Specific to Professors:

  • Participating in institutional governance
  • Teaching and conducting courses focusing on multiple areas or several different subjects
  • Holding responsibilities within the wider academic department, like publishing academic papers and supporting department administration
  • Assessing student work, assessments and academic articles

Specific to Lecturers:

  • Primarily contribute to strong undergraduate teaching
  • Designing course materials specific to core subjects
  • Teaching and conducting lectures on one or a small number of specific topics, typically on a part-time basis
  • Advising and supporting students academically

Completing these educational requirements ensures that you're well-equipped to make a positive impact in higher education jobs.

Lecturer salary average: 35-50k per annum (typically part-time)

Professor salary average: 57-75k per annum 

The average salary for professors and lecturers varies due to experience and seniority level. The above salary base is the UK average and can fluctuate based on location.

2. Academic Registrar 

Academic Registrars play an important role in higher education. They are senior officers responsible for advising on and managing all aspects of student administration. Overseeing the student administration department, they ensures processes run smoothly and efficiently.

This role involves many responsibilities but is very rewarding. Academic Registrars shape academic policies, manage student records, and ensure compliance with academic regulations, directly impacting the student experience and the institution's success.

If you believe in the transformative power of education and want to make a difference, consider a career as an Academic Registrar. This role lets you guide students' academic journeys and contribute to the strategic direction and success of the institution.

Responsibilities 

An Academic Registrar leads the registry department and handles many important tasks related to student administration. Here are some key responsibilities:

  • Maintaining student records: Keeping student records accurate and complete, including transcripts and grades.
  • Managing academic policies: Overseeing course registration, grading systems, leave of absence procedures, and graduation requirements.
  • Overseeing graduation: Ensuring students meet graduation requirements and managing the issuance of degree certificates.
  • Handling student data: Managing student data and creating reports for the institution and regulatory bodies.
  • Addressing student issues: Handling cases like appeals, disciplinary actions, and special circumstances fairly and consistently.

In simple terms, the Academic Registrar's office ensures smooth academic administration from enrolment to graduation.

Role Requirements

To excel in this role, you should possess specific skills and qualifications. Although the list below is not exhaustive, these are the main elements of a candidate profile employers will be looking for. 

Skills and education

Before stepping into this role, it's important to ensure that you have the majority of the following skills:

  • Master's degree in Higher Education Administration, Education Leadership, or a related field desirable)
  • Bachelor's degree ideally in Business Administration, Public Administration, or a specific academic discipline (or relevant experience)
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Excellent written and oral communication
  • Strong organisation and time management
  • Analytical abilities
  • Proficiency in student information systems
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Knowledge of higher education policies and trends

Fulfilling these educational requirements ensures that you have the knowledge and skills to truly make a difference in students' lives.

Salary range: 43-60k per annum, dependent on experience.

3. Course Administrator

Course Administrators are the unsung heroes of higher education institutions. They handle a wide array of administrative tasks that are vital to the functioning and smooth running of higher education course programs. 

Course administrators share administrative qualities similar to academic registrars but focus on managing individual courses, covering a much more specific area. They oversee budgeting, resource allocation, academic program coordination, and much more, ensuring everything runs smoothly. 

If you have strong organisational skills and a passion for supporting the academic mission of colleges and universities, pursuing a role as a Course Administrator could be a fulfilling higher education job for you.

Responsibilities 

In jobs in higher education, postsecondary education administrators play a pivotal role in ensuring the effective operation of colleges and universities. They manage resources, maintain financial stability, and create environments conducive to student success.

Here's how you could contribute in this role:

  • Keep your course running smoothly: Organise timetables, book lecture rooms, and prepare materials to ensure everything is ready for the specific courses you manage.
  • Help manage course budgets: Assist with budgeting and monitoring spending for the courses you oversee to support their financial health.
  • Ensure course compliance: Ensure the courses you administer comply with developing education regulations and standards.
  • Support students and staff: Create a welcoming environment by helping students with their queries and supporting academic staff involved in your courses.
  • Introduce helpful tools for your courses: Implement new tools and processes to make course management more efficient and effective.

Requirements

Though each institution will search for different skill sets and candidate profiles, the skills, education, and experience requirements below are the most commonly searched for. Let’s explore this in more depth. 

Skills and education

Before stepping into this role, it's important to possess the following skills and acquire the necessary education:

  • Bachelor's degree in any subject but education or administration can be advantageous(Master's degree can be advantageous)
  • Experience in academic administration
  • Strong organisational skills
  • Effective communication skills
  • Proficiency in student information systems, course management systems, and other relevant software is essential.
  • Administrative and IT skills
  • Knowledge of higher education regulations
  • Customer service orientation
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Financial awareness

Your combination of skills and experience will contribute to the effective operation and success of higher education institutions.

Salary average: 21-28k per annum

This salary base is the UK average and depends on location and experience. 

4. Student Support Specialist

Due to diverse student populations, student support specialists are crucial in higher education today. They provide essential academic and pastoral support, regardless of background or challenges.

A major part of their role is financial aid support. They assist students in navigating bursaries, loans, and grants, ensuring they can access necessary funds.

Beyond financial aid, these specialists balance pastoral care with regulatory responsibilities, addressing accommodation, academic adjustments, and personal development.

With the number of students in higher education growing significantly in recent years, the importance of these higher education jobs has increased. Their role is essential in ensuring student success and institutional effectiveness.

Responsibilities 

Considering a Student Support Specialist role in higher education can open the door to a fulfilling career in which you play a pivotal role in shaping students' academic and personal growth.

But what does a typical day in this role look like?

  • Guiding and supporting students: Offering guidance and support as students navigate their academic journey, addressing various issues from course selection to career advice.
  • Tailoring solutions to challenges: When students face obstacles, you'll provide personalised solutions to help them overcome difficulties, whether they are academic, financial, or personal.
  • Connecting students with resources: You'll connect students with appropriate resources and services, such as wellbeing support, financial aid, housing, and career services, ensuring they have the support needed to succeed.
  • Analysing data: By analysing student data, you'll identify trends and insights that inform strategic decision-making for support initiatives, improving the overall effectiveness of student services.
  • Reporting on progress: Providing regular reports on student support activities and outcomes ensures stakeholders are informed.

These varied responsibilities highlight the importance of Student Support Specialists in higher education, making them integral to students' academic and personal success.

Requirements

Specific skills and qualifications are necessary to excel in any jobs in higher education, and student support specialists are no different. Let’s discuss the skills and experience you will need for this role. 

Skills and education

To succeed as a student support specialist, you'll need a few critical skills, such as:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Clear Communication skills
  • Knowledge of support services
  • Ability to tailor support to each student
  • Knowledge of university and student regulation
  • Experience advising or supporting students
  • Experience in finance or funding
  • A Bachelor's or Master's Degree in higher education, student affairs, or a related field could be favourable

These requirements ensure that you are prepared to use your knowledge and professionalism to support students on their academic paths.

Salary average: 20-33k per annum 

This salary base is the UK average and depends on location and experience. 

5. Careers Advisor

Last on our list, but certainly not least, is the role of Careers Advisor. Employability is now a key focus for universities as students want to know that they can secure a role at the end of their degree.  The careers adviser is responsible for providing careers advice and guidance to students ensuring they are in the best position when leaving university to secure their dream role.  

Job Responsibilities

Jobs in higher education, like that of a Careers Advisor, are crucial for students' personal and academic success. Advisory professionals must adapt their support techniques to best meet the changing needs of the students they assist. 

Here are some key responsibilities typical of this role:

  • Career development: Discuss potential careers and the steps necessary to pursue these goals, helping students bridge the gap between education and employment.
  • Resource connection: Connect students with resources that enhance their employability, such as volunteering and extracurricular opportunities.
  • Careers IAG: Provide advice to students on career options, CV advice and interview skills.
  • Employer connections: Bridge the gap between employers and students by forging strong industry links with potential employers.

Requirements 

To excel as a Careers Advisor, you'll need a specific blend of skills and qualifications tailored to the role's demands. While this isn't an exhaustive list, it outlines what employers typically seek in candidates. Let’s explore this. 

Skills and Education

You'll need several essential key skills to thrive as a Careers Advisor in higher education. These include:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • University policy knowledge
  • Experience working in a student-facing role
  • Ability to develop tailored strategies
  • Team collaboration skills
  • Prior experience in teaching, youth work or administration is desirable 

These requirements ensure you're well-equipped to guide students through their academic journeys while maintaining professionalism and expertise.

Salary average: 24-32k per annum

This salary base is the UK average and depends on location and experience. 

Higher education jobs: Final thoughts on sector opportunities 

Careers in higher education offer diverse opportunities for those passionate about learning and supporting students. As the sector continues to grow, skilled professionals play a vital part in shaping the future of education. 

Whether you're drawn to teaching, administration, or student support, each role presents unique opportunities to make a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals and the broader community. 

Connecting talented individuals to higher education jobs

At TPP, we're experts in matching job seekers with positions in higher education. Whether you seek an entry-level academic advisor or an experienced professional to guide students, we support you throughout your job search. From your first consultation to landing the perfect role, we'll be with you every step of the way to ensure a smooth process.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you find your next academic advisor position.

  • info@tpp.co.uk
  • 020 7198 6000
  • TPP Recruitment, Northern & Shell Building, 4th Floor, 10 Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6AF