Graduate Student Blog


Transitioning from Graduate Student to Professional

August 6th, 2014 by


Approaching the transition to the job market can be a taxing and overwhelming period in the life of a graduate student. This does not have to be the case, as the intelligent use of various resources and strategies can alleviate much of the anxiety and difficulty that comes with finding one’s place in the professional world. Therefore, this particular column entry seeks to provide said resources and strategies by offering a review of hiring trends in higher education and educational administration, looking at recently released rankings of graduate schools of education and their composite programs, sharing resources which regularly announce job openings in educational administration, and by suggesting an oft-overlooked strategy for helping one’s self stand out amongst a larger pool of job applicants.

Hiring Trends

For the first time since the start of the recession, overall hiring trends for college graduates began to make a positive turn late in 2010. Several sources project continued growth over the coming year. The College Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University predicts a 5% increase in the number of PhD students entering the job market over the coming year. Similar projections are offered by the National Association of Colleges and Educators.

More specific information on job markets of particular interest to UCEA graduate students can be found in a review of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbooks for 2010-2011. The Occupational Outlook reports for both post-secondary teachers (TAs, GRAs, clinical instructors, & college professors) and educational administrators (principals, superintendents, college administrators) are very positive. Post-secondary teaching positions are projected to grow by 15% while educational administration positions are expected to grow by 8% in the aggregate. Please visit the full reports for post-secondary teachers and educational administrators.

Graduate Schools of Education Rankings

While college rankings are of little use to some, they are often seen as an important information source for prospective graduate students, recent graduates, and those wishing to enter higher education as a profession. Last week, US News and World Report released their 2011 rankings for education schools which can be disaggregated by specialty area (e.g. Administration & Supervision, Education Policy, etc.). 

Resources for Job Openings

We have compiled a list of must-view links for graduate students ready to make the transition to educational administration and higher education. The first place to start out is UCEA’s Job Search Handbook. At the bottom right of the handbook homepage, you will find a variety of links providing invaluable information for every step of the job search from planning your application to negotiating your contract.

Each of the links below leads to regularly updated listings of job openings in higher education and educational administration: – UCEA’s compilation of ed leadership jobs – AERA divisional listserv signups – Chronicle of Higher Education – Inside Higher Education – Education Week

Finally, please visit UCEA’s publications page where you will find a compilation of RSS links for all of the information feeds that UCEA has to offer –

An Oft-Overlooked Strategy

Regardless of what stage of your program you might be in, whether you are a first semester graduate student or an ABD, it would be wise to get into the habit of reading job openings as they are posted. This will allow you to better formulate the area in which you wish to specialize. Being cognizant of the types of applicants that universities are looking for will allow you to direct your graduate courses and research in a direction that will set you apart from your peers. Think about what can be done with your course selection, independent studies, conference participation, and published work that will make you more attractive to potential employers. Waiting to review job openings until halfway through your dissertation provides little opportunity to craft a body of work reflective of a specialty.

In conclusion, we hope that the information and resources provided in this, our first Graduate Student Column post, are helpful in your journey from grad student to professional. Don’t forget to check out the Graduate Student Blog, follow UCEA on Twitter, and like us on Facebook. We look forward to your feedback on all entries and any ideas you might have for future topics. Until then, good luck in your studies!