And most enjoy a professional status which hard-pressed school secretaries, burdened with increasing administrative responsibilities, would aspire to. The average salary is between pound;40,000 and pound;60,000.
Around 40 per cent of the 800-strong Independent Schools' Bursars Association (ISBA) are ex-armed forces personnel - the services offer free two-week courses for those returning to civvie street.
Chartered accountants make up another 13 per cent, with the remainder drawn from a mix of backgrounds, but all involve managerial experience, according to Mike Sant, general secretary of the ISBA.
He said "They are mant to take all the worries about the day-to-day management of the school away from heads, and allow them to concentrate on the academic leadership of the school."
Both he and his counterpart in the maintained sector believe there is a gap in training for bursars.
Peter Rickard, secretary of the National Bursars' Association, said:
"Bursars are recognised more and more as being leaders in schools. I'm really quite thrilled that we are going to be asked to put our people through the leadership college."
But he warned: "With all the changes in school funding and the way schools are organised, there seems little doubt that schools will have to find the money to pay for experienced people to do these (bursarial) tasks."