How To Become an Academic Advisor to Make a Difference in Students’ Lives

Academic advisors play a crucial role in aiding students to navigate the complexities of higher education. Learn how to become an academic advisor in this guide.

Are you passionate about helping students achieve their educational goals? Do you want to make a difference in their lives by providing guidance and support? If so, you might be interested in learning how to become an academic advisor. Academic advisors play a crucial role in aiding students to navigate the complexities of higher education, and they can make a real difference in their success. This blog will show you how to become an academic advisor and provide valuable tips. So, whether you are a recent graduate or a seasoned professional looking to make a career change, read on to discover how you can become an academic advisor and help students succeed.

What Is an Academic Advisor?

An academic advisor is an essential resource for students pursuing higher education. This professional serves as a mentor, advocate, and guide for students, helping them navigate their academic journey and make informed decisions about their coursework and career path.

Academic advisors know course requirements, academic policies, and degree programs and work closely with students to ensure they meet their educational goals. They can also advise on extracurricular activities, internships, and other opportunities to enhance students‘ education and prepare them for future careers.

High school academic advisor

High school academic advisors are crucial in helping students navigate their academic careers during their formative years. These professionals are experts in educational planning, course selection, and college readiness. They work closely with students to ensure they are on track to meet their goals.

High school academic advisors guide choosing courses, selecting extracurricular activities, and preparing for standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT. They also assist students with researching and applying to colleges and universities, as well as exploring alternative options such as vocational programs or apprenticeships.

In addition to academic support, high school advisors provide personal and social guidance, helping navigate challenges such as stress, anxiety, and peer pressure.

University or postsecondary academic advisors

Academic advisors in postsecondary institutions, such as universities and colleges, have a different set of roles and responsibilities compared to high school advisors. While high school advisors primarily focus on helping students prepare for college, postsecondary advisors work with students who are already enrolled in college and are pursuing a degree. Postsecondary advisors guide course selection, degree requirements, and academic policies, as well as offer support with academic challenges, such as time management, study skills, and course content.

They also assist students with career planning and exploration, including resume building, networking, and job search strategies. In addition to academic and career support, postsecondary advisors may also provide personal counseling and resources for mental health and wellness.

How To Become an Academic Advisor


To become an academic advisor, you must have a solid educational background, excellent communication skills, and a passion for helping students succeed. With the proper education, training, and experience, you can become a trusted advisor and positively impact the lives of countless students.

Choose where you want to work

Decide on the type of academic institution or program where you would like to work as an academic advisor. This could include colleges, universities, community colleges, technical schools, or vocational schools. Next, research potential employers and job openings in your desired location to better understand the requirements and expectations of the role.

Earn a degree

Obtain a relevant degree in a field such as counseling, education, psychology, or social work. A bachelor’s or master’s degree is necessary for academic advisor positions. Additionally, coursework in student development, academic counseling, and career counseling can be beneficial.

Get certified

While not always required, obtaining certification as an academic advisor can demonstrate your expertise and commitment to the profession. The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) offers certification programs that can help enhance your knowledge and skills in the field.

Gain practical experience

Acquiring practical experience is essential to becoming a successful academic advisor. Consider volunteering or interning in academic advising roles or related fields such as student services or counseling. Seek opportunities to work with diverse student populations to gain exposure to different perspectives and experiences.

Further your education

Continuing education and professional development are crucial to staying current with the latest trends and practices in academic advising. Attend workshops, conferences, and seminars to enhance your skills and network with other professionals in the field. Pursuing advanced degrees, such as a Ph.D. in higher education or counseling, can also open up opportunities for advancement in academic advising.

Skills Required to Be an Academic Advisor


Successful academic advisors must possess skills that enable them to perform their duties effectively. These skills include strong communication skills, critical thinking, organizational skills, and knowledge of academic and career resources. By possessing these skills, academic advisors can help students navigate their academic careers successfully and achieve their goals.

Oral and written communication

Oral and written communication skills are key for academic advisors as they guide and support students in achieving their educational goals. Communication skills enable academic advisors to establish rapport with students and help them articulate their needs and concerns. Advisors must be able to listen actively to understand a student’s academic and personal circumstances and provide appropriate guidance. They must also communicate complex educational policies and procedures clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing, to ensure students fully understand their options and obligations.


Empathy is vital for academic advisors as it enables them to understand and relate to the needs and concerns of students. By putting themselves in the shoes of their students, advisors can provide personalized guidance that takes into account each student’s unique circumstances and perspectives. Empathy also helps advisors build trust and rapport with students, leading to better communication and improved outcomes.


Problem-solving is another critical skill for academic advisors. Advisors must be able to identify and analyze problems, develop and evaluate potential solutions, and guide students toward the most effective course of action. Problem-solving skills are essential when dealing with complex issues that require creative thinking and collaboration with other stakeholders.


Computer skills are also necessary for academic advisors, as technology is increasingly important in higher education. Advisors must be proficient in using a variety of software applications, such as student information systems, email, and online communication tools, to manage student records, communicate with students and colleagues, and access essential resources.

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Academic advisors are an essential part of a student’s educational journey. They guide and support students in achieving their academic and career goals. To do this effectively, advisors need to be organized and have good organizational skills.

Being organized helps advisors keep track of important information about their advisees, such as their academic progress, course selection, and personal issues. This skill enables them to respond quickly to their advisees’ needs and provide accurate advice.

In addition, being organized helps advisors complete tasks in a timely manner, such as scheduling appointments, reviewing transcripts, and updating academic plans. This skill ensures that their advisees receive the support they need when they need it.


Resourcefulness is a vital skill for academic advisors because they should be able to provide adequate guidance and support to students in various situations. Advisors with strong resourcefulness can quickly identify the appropriate resources and strategies that will help students overcome challenges and achieve their academic goals. This might involve connecting students with academic support services, providing referrals to mental health or wellness resources, or offering advice on time management and study skills. By being resourceful, academic advisors can empower their students to take ownership of their academic journeys and make progress toward graduation and future career success.


Academic advisors should be patient because they work with a diverse range of students who have different needs, personalities, and goals. Some students may need more guidance and support than others, while others may require more time to make decisions or overcome challenges.

Patience is an essential skill for academic advisors to possess, as it allows for building trust and rapport with their students, understanding their unique situations, and providing effective solutions that meet their needs. Mastering this skill requires active listening, maintaining a positive attitude, and being willing to adapt their communication style and approach to fit the needs of each student.


Overall, academic advisors with strong interpersonal skills are better equipped to support students and create a positive and supportive learning environment. Some specific reasons why interpersonal skills are a must for academic advisors include the following:

  • Building rapport
  • Understanding students’ needs
  • Conflict resolution
  • Collaborating with others


Academic advisors must objectively provide unbiased guidance and recommendations to students in their academic pursuits. Objectivity is crucial as it ensures that advisors prioritize the needs and goals of the student rather than their personal biases or agendas.

How Can You Advance Your Career as an Academic Advisor?

To further advance your career as an academic advisor, there are a few specific strategies that you can employ. Firstly, consider pursuing additional training in specific areas of advising, such as career counseling, mental health counseling, or academic coaching. Additional education will give you a deeper understanding of the issues that students may be facing and help provide more targeted guidance.

Secondly, seeking opportunities to collaborate with other professionals in the field would help. Attend conferences and workshops to connect with other advisors and learn from their experiences. Join professional organizations, such as the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), to stay current with the latest research and best practices in the field.

Finally, consider pursuing a leadership role within your institution or professional organization. This approach can allow you to influence policy and practice on a larger scale, as well as to mentor and support other advisors in their careers.

Overall, advancing your career as an academic advisor requires ongoing learning, collaboration, and professional development. By building strong relationships with students and colleagues and pursuing leadership opportunities, you can make a meaningful impact in the lives of your students and your field.


In conclusion, becoming an academic advisor requires education, experience, and personal qualities. While there is no set path to becoming an academic advisor, the steps above can help increase the likelihood of success. These include obtaining a relevant degree, gaining experience in the field, building relationships with students and colleagues, and staying up-to-date with industry trends and best practices. By following these steps and consistently striving to improve, anyone with a passion for education and a desire to help others can become a successful academic advisor.

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