If you enjoy working with children and have leadership and organizational skills, a career as an elementary or middle school principal may be right for you. Find information about degree and professional requirements for principals here, and make an informed decision about your future career.
Schools principals are responsible for creating and evaluating school policies, hiring staff members and enforcing discipline procedures. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are key, especially when interacting with parents, teachers, students and other administrators on a daily basis. While middle and elementary school principals normally work at least 40 hours a week, they often participate in the organization of extracurricular activities outside of normal school hours. After working as a principal, you may advance to a position within a larger school system or become a superintendent.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that opportunities for education administrators, particularly elementary, middle and high school principals, were expected to increase by just 6% nationwide, or slower than average, from 2012-2022. As student enrollments increase, so will opportunities for assistant principals. As reported by the BLS in May 2013, elementary and secondary school administrators had median annual incomes of $88,380 (www.bls.gov).
You usually need an advanced degree to become an elementary or a middle school principal. However, prior to applying to graduate school, many professionals complete a bachelor's degree program in education and acquire experience in the field. Areas of specialization might include elementary school or middle grade education, music instruction or child development.
Once you've been accepted into a master's degree program in education administration, you'll most likely study teacher and leadership roles, instructional theory and motivational factors. Some programs allow for concentrations in curriculum studies, educational leadership or inclusion education, among other specializations. If you choose to focus on educational leadership, you'll learn about educational law, employee evaluations and school finance. As a graduate of a master's degree program, you'll know how to assess the needs of diverse student populations, develop curriculum changes, improve teaching strategies and address the academic concerns of pupils, parents and administrators.
Most states require principals to have school administrator licenses. In addition to meeting the educational and professional requirements, you'll need a passing score on a licensing exam. Periodic continuing education courses will also be needed to maintain licensure.