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What does a Grant Administrator do?

By Rachel Burkot
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A grant administrator is in charge of appropriating grants within an organization or company. The administrator processes the paperwork and applications, gives out the grants and ensures that the money is spent according to the terms laid out. He or she will often deal with five or more clients at a time, keeping track of details and distributing funds as appropriate for each one. Most budgets that grant administrators work with for each client are between two and five million US Dollars.

To work in this field, there is no specific set of courses to take, although a bachelor’s degree is required. It is recommended to study a research-related field because that is the area where most clients want grants. After receiving a bachelor’s degree, become certified in grant management. Seminars are offered by groups such as the National Grants Management Association (NGMA), and grant administrators have the option to take one of three different tracks within grant management: federal track, pass-through track or recipient track.

A grant administrator working in the federal track typically has a government job; he or she handles grants given out by the government. The pass-through track is an aspect of grant management in which the administrator works closely with the grant recipient, instructing and educating them about the process and the responsibilities involved with getting a grant. In the recipient track, grant administrator jobs focus on helping those in need of grants apply for them. Once the certification is complete, a job in grant administration may be obtained. Once he or she begins to practice, it is strongly suggested that the administrator take 16 days of training classes per year to keep up with changes in the field and new processes and procedures for administering grants.

The most basic role of grant administrators is to process and prepare the grant applications. This involves reviewing clients’ budgets, providing grant guidance to clients, obtaining necessary documents and clearances before the grant can be issued, entering data into the organization’s system to keep track of grants distributed, assembling all completed and signed documents and transmitting these documents to the appropriate personnel. A second duty is project administration. This involves explaining the terms of the grant, ensuring that follow-up procedures will be taken care of properly, recording critical dates and payments, creating and managing purchase orders and monitoring payments. During the final step, payment, the grant administrator seeks the necessary financial reports from the client, verifies payment records, studies financial reports, reviews invoices and records receipts.

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Discussion Comments

By KaBoom — On Jun 29, 2012

I actually have a friend from college who works as a grant administrator. She majored in biology in college, then did additional training in grant administration. She now works with organizations that apply for grants for funding for scientific research.

Her scientific background definitely helped her get her job, and it also helps her do her job too! From what she's told me, she would have a hard time doing some of her daily duties if she didn't have a background in science.

It's kind of funny though, because when she started college, she didn't want to be a grant administrator. But she learned about the job when she was about half way through school, and decided to pursue it after she graduated.

By ceilingcat — On Jun 28, 2012

@sunnySkys - I'm sure working as a grant administrator for the government is a pretty good job. Most government employees are paid well, have job security, and get great benefits. However, I imagine most people who work as grant administrators for organizations that receive the grants are probably working for non-profits. So they might not be getting paid as much!

Anyway, I'm not surprised this field requires additional training every year, especially if you're dealing with government grants. Most bureaucratic organizations are always changing their procedures, so it would be hard to keep up without additional training.

By sunnySkys — On Jun 27, 2012

If you want to work as a grant administrator, I think it would be a good idea to either take the federal track or the recipient track while you're doing your training. From what I understand, federal grants are a huge, huge thing.

The government gives out a ton of grants to different organizations every year, and there is a very specific process to the whole thing. The organization has to fill out paperwork to apply, and then the paperwork has to be processed. It seems like if you know how to work with government grants, you could command a pretty high grand administrator salary.

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