Explore degree programs you could pursue to become a secondary school principal or administrator, and review the educational and licensure requirements for these positions. Read about the job duties of a principal or administrator at the high school level.
If you were a secondary school principal, you'd create school policies, prepare budgets and strive to meet local, state and national academic standards. As a school administrator, you'd oversee educational programs within a school or school district, launch new curricula and work to improve teaching techniques. In both jobs, you'd create financial and academic goals for your school, gathering input from students, parents and teachers so their concerns could be effectively addressed. Another part of your job would be to motivate and inspire teachers.
There are several personality traits and social skills that would help make you a successful principal. You must be an innovative leader with excellent communication, interpersonal and organizational skills.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were about 226,760 principals and education administrators, including all grade levels, in the U.S. in 2013. During the 2012-2022 decade, the BLS predicted that at all levels of school administrators, this number would rise by six percent, with growth due to the opening of new schools (www.bls.gov). Job prospects would likely be best in the South and West, where increasing school enrollment is expected. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for school principals and administrators in general was $88,380.
To become a school principal or administrator, you must have at least a master's degree in school leadership or school administration. You may need two or more years of teaching experience to enroll in a master's program. Advanced coursework is aimed at developing leadership, decision-making and research skills, as well as exploring methods for improving secondary education. Finances, budgetary issues and school law are among the practical topics covered. In some master's programs, you might be required to do fieldwork by observing working principals and administrators and participating in some of their decision-making processes. In addition to your master's degree, most states require you to obtain principalship licensure if you'll be working in a public school system.
If you already have a master's degree in another field or want to receive advanced training in school leadership or education, you could complete an educational specialist program. Most colleges require a valid teaching license to enroll. Courses cover methods for managing and supervising others, strategies for developing curricula, trends in education administration and financial issues for schools. It's likely you'd have to complete a field experience or practicum to graduate.
Some schools require a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) to become a principal, administrator or superintendent. To enroll in a Ph.D. program in an education topic, you must have at least a master's degree, preferably in a field related to education. High-level coursework and research focuses on school systems and community relations, as well as implementing new technology in the classroom.