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Tribal Administrator: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Tribal administrators work for a federally recognized Native American tribe. They coordinate the day-to-day operations of the tribe and supervise tribal employees. A strong familiarity with tribe history and Native American governance regulations, in addition to several years' education or experience, is required.

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Job Description

Similar to a manager at a nonprofit organization, a tribal administrator is a high-level business management official who works in the government of a Native American tribe. He or she manages daily tribal operations, coordinates the different offices of tribal government and executes government projects. The administrator may also act as a supervisor for the many employees of the tribal government, which can include those in the social services, education, public works and accounting departments.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), general and operations managers are professionals who are responsible for day-to-day administrative tasks within organization, which is very similar to a tribal administrator's duties. As of May 2013, the BLS stated that these professionals earned a median annual salary of $96,430. Also according to the BLS, these professionals are expected to see a growth in employment of 12% from 2012-2022.

Job Duties

An administrator's exact duties vary from tribe to tribe. In addition to general management duties, the administrator is frequently responsible for finding and managing tribal funds, which involves the planning and writing of federal and state grants and grant applications. He or she is also responsible for establishing and maintaining communication between the tribal government and the tribal community, other tribal governments or the U.S. federal and state governments.

The tribal administrator is also required to perform traditional business management duties, including:

  • Preparing audits
  • Coordinating schedules
  • Providing monthly and annual tribal budgets
  • Funds planning and accounting
  • Coordinating and leading committees

Education and Job Requirements

Most federally recognized tribes prefer administrators to have some formal education, either a bachelor's or master's degree, in business or public administration. Significant professional experience may also suffice. The BLS reports that for the managers of nonprofit organizations a bachelor's degree in finance or accounting, with some business administration classes, is a common background (www.bls.gov).

In addition, according to October 2010 job postings on tribe websites, a would-be tribal administrator should have a strong familiarity with the tribe they seek to work for in addition to Native American governance issues. Ample experience writing grants and proposals is also looked for, as is some knowledge of environmental protection.

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