How to Become an Academic Advisor (2024)


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What is an Academic Advisor?

An academic advisor provides students with essential support and guidance throughout their educational journey. They serve as navigators in the intricate world of academia, helping students plot a path that aligns with their academic and career goals. Fulfilling a multifaceted role, academic advisors assist with course selection, ensuring that students meet the requirements for their chosen programs and advising on suitable electives that complement their major. They also inform students about the availability of internships, study-abroad opportunities, and scholarships. Beyond logistical support, advisors offer a listening ear and tailored advice, addressing individual needs and concerns such as adapting to college life, dealing with academic pressure, or planning post-graduate paths.

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What Does an Academic Advisor Do?

The day-to-day activities of an academic advisor center on supporting and guiding students throughout their educational journey. These can include:

  • Morning meetings and student appointments: The day usually starts with a team meeting, where advisors discuss any updates or upcoming events that may impact their students or require their assistance. Following that, they dive into scheduled appointments with students. These can cover various topics, from educational pathways and choosing classes to academic struggles and personal concerns.

  • Academic planning and goal setting: Helping students plan their educational journey is a key part of an advisor's role. This involves reviewing their current course schedules, discussing long-term goals, and making necessary adjustments to ensure they're on track. Advisors work closely to identify opportunities for internships or study abroad and to set academic performance goals that are both aspirational and achievable.

  • Supporting special groups and events: An advisor's work extends beyond one-on-one consultations. Academic advisors often support special groups such as first-year students, athletes, or those in specific academic programs. They also help plan and execute events like career fairs, major declaration days, and honors ceremonies.

  • Administrative tasks and communication: Emails, documentation via advising software, and compiling resources like course catalogs and scholarship information are constant tasks. Clear communication is vital, and advisors strive to make information easily accessible through newsletters, social media, and our website.

  • Professional development and networking: Academic advising is dynamic, so continuous learning is necessary. Advisors stay up to date on educational trends, counseling techniques, and new technologies through workshops, conferences, and online resources. Networking with other advisors and professionals in higher education is equally important.

  • After-hours support and outreach: Some days, advisors hold evening support sessions for students who cannot meet during regular hours. Advisors also actively contribute to community outreach, visiting local high schools and engaging with prospective students. They often discuss the importance of academic advising and how it can help chart a successful educational path.

  • Personal time for reflection: Balancing the demands of academic advising with self-care is crucial for maintaining productivity and mental health. Many advisors find time during breaks to reflect on student meetings, review strategies for academic success, and gather their thoughts, ensuring they return to work with fresh perspectives and renewed energy.

Where Does an Academic Advisor Work?

Academic advisors often work in higher education institutions such as universities and colleges, guiding students through academic planning and decision-making. However, advisors can also be needed in secondary schools, vocational training centers, and sometimes within corporate training departments.


How Do I Become an Academic Advisor?

Step 1: Pursue the Appropriate Education

A bachelor's degree is a foundational requirement, and many programs seek candidates with a master's degree. Consider degree paths in psychology, education, or communications to build the knowledge base and skills required for academic advising.

Step 2: Gain Relevant Experience

Experience working in a university setting, particularly in roles involving student support or academic affairs, can be invaluable. Seek internships, part-time positions, or volunteer opportunities that offer exposure to academic advising or related fields.

Step 3: Obtain Certifications

While only sometimes mandatory, academic advising or counseling certifications can enhance your credentials and prove your commitment to the field.

Step 4: Network within the Academic Community

Connecting with current academic advisors and professionals in higher education can offer insights into the field, job opportunities, and the day-to-day responsibilities of an advisor.

Step 5: Apply for Positions and Seek Professional Development

Apply for open academic advisor positions at universities, community colleges, or online education institutions through their hiring processes. Once in the role, actively seek professional development opportunities to stay current and enhance your effectiveness as an advisor.

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How to Become an Academic Advisor (1) Health & Nursing


Psychology – B.S.

An online psychology program for students who want to make a difference in...

An online psychology program for students who want to make a difference in their life, and the lives of others.

  • Time:95% of students finish similar programs in less than 4 years.
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  • Courses:34 total courses in this program.

Skills for your résumé included in this program:

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This degree allows you to gain valuable knowledge and experience in the field of psychology and can prepare you for additional certifications or careers.

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Educational Studies – B.A.


These online, non-licensure educational studies degrees prepare you to...

These online, non-licensure educational studies degrees prepare you to make a difference in a field that interests you.

Based on your career goals and interests, you can choose an educational studies program in one of 10 content areas that meets your needs while working toward employment in school settings, corporate training, or instructional design. These programs do not lead to a teaching license.

  • Time:Completion time varies depending on the specialty track you choose.
  • Tuition:$3,825 per 6-month term.
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Focus areas of this educational studies degree program include:

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Educational Leadership – M.S.


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  • Courses: 13 total courses in this program.

This program is for licensed teachers who are ready to take the next step in their education career.

Skills for your résumé included in this program:

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Put your leadership skills to good use—in the service of America's children—with this education master's degree.

States that do not accept this program: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota.

How Much Does an Academic AdvisorMake?


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for academic advisors is $60,140. However, salaries in larger cities or esteemed institutions can be considerably higher. Career growth opportunities for academic advisors may include advancement to senior advisor roles, specialized counselor positions, or administrative assignments with greater responsibility, often resulting in a higher salary.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


As post-secondary education becomes increasingly complex and tailored to individual student needs, the demand for skilled advisors is expected to grow by 5% from 2022 to 2032. Universities, community colleges, and technical schools rely on these professionals to improve student outcomes and navigate an ever-changing educational landscape.


What Skills Does an Academic Advisor Need?

The following are essential skills every academic advisor needs to develop for success in the role:

  • Empathy and active listening skills: Advisors must understand and appreciate students' concerns and recognize that students often come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Active listening is critical in building rapport with students so that they feel heard and understood.

  • Knowledge of higher education systems: In order to guide students effectively, academic advisors must thoroughly understand college and university policies, procedures, structures, and pathways. A solid grasp of academic systems facilitates smoother problem-solving and more precise recommendations.

  • Interpersonal and communication skills: Advisors work closely with students, faculty, and administrative teams, which necessitates strong interpersonal and communication skills. Relaying complex information in an accessible, supportive manner is invaluable.

  • Multicultural competency: Academic advisors must be culturally sensitive and aware of diverse student populations. Cross-cultural communication, empathy, and understanding are vital qualities for professionals who want to equitably serve all students' needs.

  • Problem-solving and critical thinking: Whether it's reenrollment after a leave of absence, unclear degree pathways, or handling exceptions to academic policies, advisors must be adept at navigating challenges creatively. Critical thinking allows for insight into student needs and institutional policies.

  • Technology proficiency: As academic support services increasingly integrate technology, advisors must be proficient in using student information systems, scheduling software, and online communication tools. This enhances their ability to connect with and support students effectively.

  • Documentation and record-keeping skills: Maintaining accurate records of advising sessions, degree plans, and milestones is essential to maintaining administrative compliance and accountability and to the academic success of students.

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How to Become an Academic Advisor (2024)
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