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Sample Job Descriptions

The sample job descriptions in this online collection are representative of the college union and student activities profession. However, each college union will have its own unique needs for professional staff and its own unique portfolio of services. With that in mind, this resource is intended:

  • To assist campus administrators and college union and student activities executives in designing and developing their organization and with recruiting and selecting professionals to fill staff positions.
  • To assist individuals who are considering careers in the college union and activities field in understanding the qualifications required of people entering this field.
  • To assist those wishing to advance in the profession understand the core competencies needed and career paths available.

To more easily locate desired job descriptions, they have been sorted by Education Council area. Click the links to the left to view job descriptions for each area.

Human resources required

The college union must employ qualified professional, technical, and support staff who can meet the varied educational, service, social, leisure, and recreational requirements inherent in the union’s mission. Staff should include people who provide the necessary professional leadership to assume responsibility for the entire union as well as for specific programs.

Desirable core competencies of staff include:

  • Communication Skills
  • Facilities Management
  • Fiscal Management
  • Human Resource Development
  • Intercultural Proficiency
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Planning
  • Student Learning
  • Technology 

Graduate degrees should be earned in fields relevant to college union work, including but not limited to student development, business administration, higher education, and recreational leadership. If graduate training programs do not provide education that addresses these individual competencies, professionals may want to pursue coursework in other areas or professional development opportunities provided by ACUI or other organizations to bolster their knowledge base.

In recent years, a trend has developed where qualified individuals are being hired from outside higher education settings (e.g., hotel and conference center management) for college union positions.  These professionals may not have experience with or knowledge of student development theory and strategies for achieving student learning, so supervisors should be intentional about identifying resources and professional development opportunities focused on this competency.

While it is important that professional staff members meet qualifications in terms of academic preparation, experience, and skills, it is even more important that care be given to the selection of individuals who maintain a positive attitude, who are willing to work with a variety of people and situations, and who demonstrate ethical standards in their conduct. Another consideration in the employment of individuals is their attitude about working nights and weekends. Because many unions are open seven days a week and for extended hours, both professional and nonprofessional staff should understand that their position may call them to duty at times when other campus offices or departments are closed.

Qualifications for professional staff positions

Recommended standards for educational background, experience, and special qualifications for typical union and activities positions follow. These guidelines are offered as criteria that may be helpful when appraising the suitability of candidates for union positions and as information for aspiring union professionals.

This resource covers only those positions typically regarded as professional or leading to professional positions. It does not consider other important positions that are usually regulated by civil service or by campus-wide, system-wide, or labor union regulations, such as secretarial, accounting, and maintenance positions. The distinction between professional and nonprofessional positions often is blurred, both on a single campus and in a comparison of campuses. In addition, some entry-level positions on a campus may be filled by graduate students preparing for professional positions.


To standardize titles in this resource, a common vernacular was established across the Education Councils:

  • Graduate Assistants – Currently enrolled in a graduate program; relevant academic program preferred; undergraduate experience in relevant field preferred.
  • Coordinator – Entry-level professional; bachelor’s required; master’s preferred; 0–2 years' experience, which may include graduate assistant preparation. 
  • Manager – Entry- to mid-level professional; bachelor’s required; master’s preferred (business administration degree may be preferred); 0–4 years' experience, which may include graduate assistant preparation. 
  • Assistant Director – Mid-level professional; master’s required; 2–5 years' experience, which may include graduate assistant preparation.
  • Associate Director – Mid- to senior-level professional; master’s required; 3–7 years' experience, which may include graduate assistant preparation.
  • Director – Senior-level professional; master’s required; doctorate preferred on some campuses; 5–7 years' professional experience. Frequently requires demonstrated experience with the breadth of responsibilities required in the position.

Titles may vary by institutional type and size. Union director titles and types vary most dramatically. These differences are driven by institutional type as well as by funding sources.

Resource development

These sample job descriptions were first published as a booklet in 1940. Since then, Standards for Professional Practice in College Unions and Student Activities has undergone many revisions, reflecting changes that have affected all of higher education during the past six decades. Previous editions of the booklet contained information from a variety of sources, including research on the administration and operation of college unions beginning in the 1950s. The job descriptions in earlier editions were based on samples of actual job descriptions from numerous institutions as well as on information collected by ACUI. The most recent print edition incorporated some work of the Council for the Advancement of Standards, an organization of which ACUI is a charter member.

This online collection of sample job descriptions was a project of ACUI’s Education Councils from 2006–07. Job descriptions from the most recent Standards booklet were updated, job titles more closely aligned to the Association’s annual salary survey, and core competencies were applied to each position. While the Education Councils acknowledge that the core competencies are universal and are required for all positions in the field, recommended base core competencies for hiring have been added to each job description. Entry-level positions have an average of three core competencies whereas mid-level positions have four and senior-level positions have five. This is a natural reflection of skills progressively needed to advance in the field.


Updated July 3, 2012