Elementary Principal: Career Summary, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements
Learn what degrees are required in order to become an elementary school principal and examine optional certification programs. You'll get a look at projections for job growth, see the average salary and find out about job duties.
What Is an Elementary Principal?
As the principal of an elementary school, you'll plan, develop and implement academic programs for your school. You'll hire and dismiss faculty and staff, which include custodians, cooks and clerical workers. Often, you'll observe faculty as they teach to be sure they are meeting standards and following good teaching practices. You'll administer your school's budget and be responsible for fostering good relationships between staff, students, parents and the community. In some cases, you'll act as a mediator between teachers and parents when issues are brought between them.
Because funding can often be based on the academic results that the school produces, you must ensure that students and teachers meet state and federal standards. Enforcing rules and punishments are primary responsibilities. You'll not only be involved in the academic growth of students, but also their emotional and social welfare. The school may provide after-school or before-school programs to help with emotional, social and academic development. You may also create programs that allow students to deal with familial problems or work with social service workers.
What Can I Expect from this Career?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of principals on the elementary, middle and high school levels is expected to grow four percent in the decade spanning 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also states that principals in particular should have better employment opportunities because of the stress that comes with the job. Teachers generally do not want to deal with government regulations, teacher shortages and budget cuts, which makes for less job competition for elementary school principal positions.
The BLS reported that in 2018, the average yearly salary for elementary and secondary school administrators was $98,750. However, principals tend to earn more than their assistant counterparts. The top five paying states for education administrators were New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, and Washington.
What Are the Educational Requirements?
The qualifications to become an elementary principal vary from state to state, but education requirements usually include a Master of Science in Education Administration or Educational Leadership. Most states also require principals to have a license verifying skills. Most school districts also require you to have classroom teaching experience or experience in administration as well. The National Board for Teaching Professional Standards has created a voluntary national certification for principals (www.nbpts.org). This certification exam tests you on your leadership and education skills.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
A few options of related careers include librarians, instructional coordinators and school and career counselors, all of which require at least a master's degree. Librarians' duties may differ depending on their place of work, but in general they help people find information and resources for research. Instructional coordinators work with schools and their staff to develop educational material and methods to meet required standards. They will then evaluate the effectiveness of the materials and methods. School and career counselors work with students to develop the necessary skills to succeed in school and prepare for life after graduation.