Admission Counselor Salary and Job Description

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Graduating from college with a degree can be an essential step for people pursuing their dreams. This has been an increasingly fundamental step over the past half century or so: Statista reports that public college enrollment grew from 3.97 million in 1965 to 14.5 million in 2019 and that private college enrollment grew from 1.95 million to 5.14 million.

While this data represents strong overall growth, a closer look reveals a gradual decline in college enrollment during the 2010s. Continuing this trend into the next decade, the COVID-19 pandemic fueled a downturn at both the four-year and the junior or community college levels across multiple demographics, from recent high school graduates to older students going back to school to earn advanced degrees or upskill. While projections indicate college enrollment bouncing back in post-pandemic years, work needs to be done to turn those predictions into reality.

The role of an admission counselor can be fundamental to this process. By seeking out students and advocating for their institutions, admission counselors can simultaneously help colleges and universities increase their enrollment and make potential students comfortable with taking their next academic steps. For those interested in helping individuals build toward their future, an admission counselor role may be an ideal career path.

Admission counselor job description

The core duty of an admission counselor is to promote a college or university to prospective enrollees. The process involves seeking out potential students whose academic performance, extracurricular activities, and demonstrated interests at the high school level align with the college or university’s degree programs and other institutional goals. This process can often include promoting the institution to the prospective students’ parents as well.

Admission counselors connect with students in many ways. They often attend recruiting events, such as education fairs, to promote what their schools can offer. They also help coordinate on-campus tours, events, and information sessions to provide students details regarding admission processes, campus life, and the college experience. Sometimes, admission counselors may call upon alumni to help recruit students via meetings or networking events when these students are unable to visit the campus.

At smaller schools, admission counselors may take on additional roles in student recruitment and enrollment. These extra duties may include helping to make student admission decisions and evaluating and adjusting a school’s recruitment program.

An admission counselor meets with a student.

How to become an admission counselor

A bachelor’s degree is typically required for the admission counselor role. The discipline can vary, but a degree that focuses on interpersonal relations, such as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Sociology, may be particularly beneficial. Such degrees can help students cultivate and refine numerous skills considered essential to the role, such as presentation, communication, and interpersonal competencies. These can help develop sales abilities, which can translate into success in the recruiting process. Fundamental skills also include strong technical and organizational skills.

Another key step is to gain real-world work experience, particularly in a college administrative setting. These positions should typically involve student-focused administration areas, such as in the registrar’s office or student affairs department. Experience in these roles can help familiarize individuals with a university’s culture and goals, give insight into the student experience, and optimize the skills key to attracting prospective students.

Admission counselor salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) places admission counselors under the larger umbrella of school and career counselors. The BLS listed the median annual pay for the field as $58,120 as of May 2020.

Several underlying factors can influence salaries, including education level, experience, and location, with those working in areas with a higher cost of living likely to earn more than those in areas with a lower cost of living.

The BLS projects 11% job growth for school and career counselors between 2020 and 2030. This percentage is faster than the 4% job growth the BLS projects for the labor market as a whole for the time period.

Help others shape their future

Going to college represents a life-changing event for millions of people every year, and admission counselors can play a hugely influential role in this critical process. Bringing students and academic institutions together can help an institution become an integral part of a student’s professional and personal journey.

Maryville University’s online BA in Sociology program can help students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in higher-education counseling roles. Courses such as Social Issues in a Changing World, Social Class in Society, and Exploring Race and Ethnicity in America help build the interpersonal elements that allow counselors to connect with modern prospective students and build the relationships necessary to persuade them to select their institution. Learn how we can help prepare you for a career that can make a vital difference in the lives of others.

Recommended Reading

College Planning Guide for High School Students

Daily Inspiration: 31 Positive Affirmations for Adult Learners

How to Identify and Overcome Your Implicit Bias


Houston Chronicle, “Admissions Counselor Job Duties”

Houston Chronicle, “Summary of the Qualifications for College Admission Counselors”

Inside Higher Ed, “Steep Enrollment Declines This Spring”

Statista, “College Enrollment in the United States from 1965 to 2019 and Projections Up to 2029 for Public and Private Colleges”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “School and Career Counselors”