County Administrator: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a county administrator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

A county administrator is a paid, non-elected government official that supervises the day-to-day operations of a county government. The basic duty of a county administrator is to oversee the departments that deliver services to the public. They help develop budgets, attend government meetings and may even be on call in emergency situations. A county manager needs at least a bachelor's degree in public administration, business administration or a related field, and many hold master's degrees.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in public administration or other relevant field
Projected Job Growth11% for all top executives (2012-22)*
Median Salary $117,000 (2012)*

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **International City/County Management Association

Job Description of a County Administrator

The county administrator is the county's chief executive officer and reports to the county's elected governing board. Department heads, such as the manager of the water department or the chief of police, might report to the county administrator. The county administrator briefs the board on pertinent issues and then makes sure the board's decisions are enacted.

County administrators generally work in government administration buildings. They often travel within the county and to nearby jurisdictions. In addition, county administrators may occasionally attend conventions and other events out of town.

County Administrator Job Duties

County administrators attend regular meetings of elected officials, and they meet with citizens and business leaders. Administrators may hire and fire county employees as well as oversee the bidding process on building projects and purchases. Additionally, these professionals may nominate citizens for various governmental advisory boards. They might also develop plans to attract new developments to their counties.

Preparing their respective county's annual budget is usually the responsibility of these administrators. They present budgets to elected leaders then ensure that budgets are implemented. In larger communities, the county administrator may have several assistants who handle various job duties; however, smaller counties usually employ only the county administrator to complete the duties of this position and the administrator may work part-time.

County Administrator Salary

The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) reports that the median salary earned among county managers was $117,000 in 2012 (www.ICMA.org). The location of the county and the demographics of its population often influence the salary amounts earned by its administrators, notes the ICMA. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also points out that employee benefits, such as medical insurance and retirement plans, are usually more expansive in government jobs than in the private sector.

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