If helping young people find their career paths is your passion, you may want to learn more about becoming an academic advisor. This role allows you to work closely with students in secondary and post-secondary institutions to help them complete their courses and advance toward a career of their choice. It can be highly rewarding and you will get to have a direct impact on young people's futures!
Let's begin by discussing who an academic advisor is and how you can become one.
An academic advisor is a professional in education who helps students plan their academic years and career paths. They assist students to choose the necessary courses, qualify for higher learning, and start on their path to attain a career after they have graduated.
In order to properly guide them, academic advisors maintain student records which will help them provide matching guidance to help students as they complete their programs. They may also set up regular meetings with students to provide feedback and advice, thereby creating the environment to ensure they are receiving the right support to advance in their academic path.
Although the duties of an academic advisor may vary on a case-by-case basis, their overall goal is to provide educational, career, and personal guidance to students to help them succeed academically. To achieve this, academic advisors have a number of duties, such as:
Assessing students' learning stages and helping them grow.
Building relationships with students to understand their educational needs.
Helping students develop educational and career goals.
Helping students identify career options and aligning these options with their already set goals.
Referring students to appropriate campus services when they need more help.
Maintaining student records and updating them as needed.
Walking students through institutional policies and procedures.
Maintaining accuracy across all student files.
Assessing academic transcripts for credit transfer purposes.
Developing orientation programs for new students.
Helping students meet college admission requirements.
Building students' networks with prospective employers and other mentors.
Walking students through institutional requirements for graduation.
To become an Academic Advisor you usually must fulfill certain requirements, such as:
1. Hold a Bachelor's Degree
In most cases, employers require you to hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree to be an academic advisor. While your bachelor's degree may be in any field, obtaining one in a relevant area like education, educational leadership, social work, counseling or psychology may be a plus.
2. Work Experience
Having some work experience related to the skills required for an academic advisor job can boost your eligibility. Some examples would be to take up internship positions in colleges or work with student life organizations, college admissions/registrar offices, disability offices, financial aid offices, and so on to gain relevant experience working with students and the operations of an educational setting. These initial endeavors will provide you with some skills that can show an employer relevant experience and set you apart from other potential candidates. Prior experience will always be a plus!
No, you don't need a specific degree to become an academic advisor. However, there are certain degrees that will help you gain the expertise to adequately advise students in a wide range of academic disciplines. For example, degrees in social work, psychology, education, and counseling are usually preferred for academic advisor jobs. However, if your degree is not part of these disciplines, don't be discouraged, you can apply to the position even if you have another degree unless the job posting requires a specific specialization. If you do decide to apply with a different degree than the ones we have mentioned, be sure to highlight exactly how your academic background and experience can be useful in this career path, give specific examples of what and how your experience has proven to be effective in a similar role and make sure you meet the skills mentioned in the job description.
To become an academic advisor, follow the steps we outlined in the previous section (bachelor's degree, work experience). If you don't already meet these requirements, you can work toward obtaining each of them by taking them one step at a time. Once you meet these requirements, write a resume in which you highlight your qualifications and the skills you will be bringing to the job. Once you have all of these ready you can begin to search for relevant jobs and start applying!
Other than your certifications and educational background, make sure to highlight the experience you have that relates to the role, such as:
Examples of when you successfully problem-solved
Time management examples
Experiences where you were required to show organizational skills and project deadlines/completion
Examples of successful interpersonal relationships and excellent communication skills
Demonstrate abilities to analyse and organize information
While highlighting your skills it will be especially useful to write them in a way that shows that you have experience and is not just a list of skills without relevant examples. You'll also want to put forward any similar roles you might have worked in in the past. Overall, your resume needs to show that you are suited to helping your students succeed in their academic environment.
Once you have met the requirements of the job posting and have tailored your resume to the position, you are ready to begin applying for available opportunities! The most efficient route is to look for opportunities on niche job boards, ones that are specific to education jobs, specifically in the Canadian market. This will be the surest way to find the opportunity you have been waiting for!
We hope this guide helps you get your career started in the education sector. Here at Jobs in Education, our website is dedicated to helping job seekers find job opportunities in a wide range of options. We are constantly updating our job board, so check back often and be sure to turn on your Job Alerts! You can also visit our social media channels where we share many tips on finding your first job, advancing in your career, writing your resume, and much more.