How to Become an Academic Advisor

Academic Advisor Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $54,950
Avg. Pay / hour $26.42
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 8%

Academic Advisors are professionals who work with college students to help guide them to the right career path.

Individuals who want to become an Academic Advisor may be interested in working with students and accomplished professionals to help them find the right career path.

Individuals who pursue this path have a combination of innate qualities such as compassion and great listening skills in addition to an advanced degree.

Individuals interested in this career path also have plenty of opportunities in a variety of school settings.

Academic Advisors can seek work in universities, colleges, technical schools and community colleges.

Individuals may also choose to focus guiding students in a specific field such as advising in Engineering, Biology or English.

Individuals may also look at a similar profession such as a career counselor at the high school level to help guide younger high school students to the profession or areas of study that works for them.

Education Requirements to Become an Academic Advisor

Individuals who want to become an Academic Advisor must pursue a Master’s degree in order to work in this field.

During their undergraduate degree, students may choose from a variety of majors.

If they would like to counsel in a specific field, they can opt to major in that focus.

Because Academic Advisors work with students who are trying to determine their career path, individuals must have innate qualities to perform the required duties for this position.

Some important qualities to possess include: compassion, great listening skills, communication skills and strong interpersonal skills.

These skills are a must because of Academic Advisors’ frequent communication with their students.

Employers prefer candidates who have a Master’s degree in Counseling with a focus in career development.

These focused programs provide courses to help individuals learn career development techniques to assist others pursue their career track.

These programs also prepare individuals to assess a student’s skills and interests.

In addition, individuals may be required to fulfill a supervised internship to help them gain on the job skills.

Academic Advisor Job Description

Academic Advisors work with college students who are determining the right career path for themselves.

These professionals use a combination of personal characteristics such as listening and compassion as well as their education to guide students to the best career path for them.

With their experience in career development, Academic Advisors are highly trained to assess a student’s skills, talents and interests to develop a variety of potential career paths to pursue.

Academic Advisors may work with individuals at different stages in their careers.

For undergraduate students, they may assist in helping them choose the proper major after assessing their interests and skills.

Some Academic Advisors working for a college or university may also assist alums already in the workforce.

In these circumstances, an Academic Advisor will look at work experience and education to help individuals develop a plan to enter a new profession.

Day to day activities include meeting with students or professionals and providing a variety of assessments to determine skills, interests and talents.

In addition, an Academic Advisor will look at their client’s educational background and job history; guide students or client through the decision making process in regards to a profession or major to choose.

They may also assist with the job search process and coaching them through interviewing, networking and applying for jobs and teaching them how to write a resume.

Academic Advisor Salary and Career Path

The median annual salary for Career Counselors, which includes Academic Advisors, was approximately $53,610 in 2012.

For individuals working in higher education, the median wage is approximately $46,630.

The exact wage will depend on experience and location.

Job projections for Career Counselors, including Academic Advisors is expected to increase by 12 percent through 2022.

This growth is on par with other professions and job sectors and is considered healthy.

This growth is expected to come from the increasing numbers of individuals signing up for advanced degrees and higher education.

However, job prospects might be affected by the decline in state and local funding towards education.

Individuals who would like to coach young students and guide them towards their ideal profession may consider a career as an Academic Advisor.

Working in this profession will allow them to work one on one with aspiring individuals just beginning their careers.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$69,520
New Hampshire$53,510
New Jersey$76,040
New Mexico$59,680
New York$70,150
North Carolina$52,870
North Dakota$59,080
Rhode Island$64,340
South Carolina$54,550
South Dakota$46,960
West Virginia$51,110
Puerto Rico$36,440
Virgin Islands$53,250

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $81,590.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $81,590
New Jersey - $76,040
Massachusetts - $75,660
Washington - $75,160
Maryland - $72,730
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors, OCC Code 21-1012, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an academic advisor do?

An academic advisor is a professional that can work in college, university or a specific school (like the school of business, for example).

In most cases, academic advisors work at the postsecondary level.

The main goal of an academic advisor is to help the students recognize their educational goals and academic strengths and, ultimately, select the major that fits their skills and desires.

A professional also takes into consideration familial and peer pressure, the personality traits of the students, and their underlying drive.

The typical responsibilities of an academic advisor usually include thoroughly interviewing the student; assessing the student; providing help in locating the resources for strengthening the skills needed (recommending courses, planning schedules…), and so on.

Of course, an academic advisor should stay up-to-date on program changes and work closely with university administrators and professors.

How much do academic advisors make?

On average, an academic advisor can make a little more than $43.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $34.000 and $58.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the facility you work in, the location and so on.

Academic advisors in New York, Washington, and Massachusetts, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level academic advisor can earn around $14 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $26 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become an academic advisor?

In most cases, you would need a bachelor’s degree from a related academic field, in order to become an academic advisor.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

To improve job perspectives, you can decide to go for a master’s degree and become the Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration (it will cost you around $600 per credit hour).

What is the demand for academic advisors?

Between 2018 and 2028, all education, school, guidance, and vocational counselors’ job market is expected to grow by 8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is a little faster than the average for all occupations in the United States.

The growth will certainly depend on the state and local budget and on whether or not the school enrollments will be increasing.

How long does it take to become an academic advisor?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and 1-2 years to earn a master’s degree.

You can consider seeking an internship during your last year in university to get that on-job experience as the majority of employers prefer the candidates to have between 2-5 years of counseling experience.

Some states require academic advisors to have a license.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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