What Are the Duties and Salary of a School Principal?

Research what it takes to become a school principal. Learn about degree requirements, licensure, job duties and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Principal Licensure degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a School Principal Do?

School principals manage the overall administration of schools at many different education levels. In essence, they oversee all school operations and daily activities that take place in a school. Depending on the size of the school and district, their responsibilities include but are not limited to coordinating curricula, supervising teachers and staff, and maintaining a learning environment that is safe and productive for all students.To find out more about job duties, earning potential and how principals are educated and licensed, see the table below.

Degree Required Master's degree at minimum
Education Field of Study Education administration, education leadership
Key Responsibilities Mentor and evaluate teachers; supervise school activities and operations; manage professional development programs for staff; discipline and counsel students
Licensure/Certification Licensure or teacher certification is required to work as a principal in a public school
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all elementary, middle and high school principals)*
Average Salary (2015) $92,940 (for all elementary, middle and high school principals)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Typical Job Duties of a School Principal

School principals are involved in all aspects of elementary, middle and secondary schools, from managing the finances that pay for books to overseeing the maintenance of the physical condition of the school itself. Not only would you be responsible for hiring teachers, but you would also supervise them, visiting classrooms and evaluating their teaching performance. You could also hire other staff members including librarians, office workers, counselors and athletic coaches.

A report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) about education administrators showed that school principals are also involved in budgetary matters (www.bls.gov). Because schools often face low budgets, you could work to raise funds for your school, including money to pay for educational programs, repairs and teacher salaries.

You could work with teachers, parents and community members to improve the academic performance of students at your school. You could do this by setting academic standards and engaging the community to support educational objectives. On a personal level, you could serve as a mentor to exceptional students and also students who are struggling at school and at home. You might begin your day by greeting students as they file into the school or speaking to students one-on-one about their academic performance.

You'll also have to be a disciplinarian because principals frequently meet with students and parents when students disrupt classes, fail to attend class or have other behavioral problems. As an educator and leader, you could also work with your school district, state boards of education and committees to ensure that your school is properly funded, students are engaged, parents are actively involved in their children's education and that your school is a safe, nurturing environment for children.

Your Earning Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (www.bls.gov) the average annual salary of all principals in elementary and secondary schools was $92,940. The lowest 10% of these professionals earned $59,070 per year or less, while the top 10% earned $131,310 or more per year.

Education and Licensing

According to the BLS, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree to work at a private school and a master's degree to work at a public school. Because many schools require principals to have teaching experience, you could enroll in a bachelor's degree program in education with a teacher certification component. If you already have a bachelor's degree, you could enroll in a post-bachelor's teacher certification program, which includes a teaching internship.

You can then enroll in a master's degree program in education, which could take 1-2 years to complete. You could search for a program that includes a school principal endorsement or complete a school principal certificate program after you receive your master's degree. Completing either program could result in being recommended for principal licensure.

Because many states require principals to have teaching experience, you could become a certified teacher after you earn your bachelor's degree. After gaining teaching experience, generally 3-5 years, you can apply for licensure as a principal through your state board of education. Licensing requirements are similar to teacher certification, although you may need to complete additional training, depending on the state where you want to work.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Many principals begin as teachers, and some enjoy returning to that role at certain points. In most states, elementary, middle and high school teachers need a bachelor's degree at minimum along with licensure. Instructional coordinators are in charge of a school curriculum and standard for teachers. After they create instructional materials, they work with teachers to implement methods most efficiently. These professionals typically hold a master's degree. Working as a librarian is another related option that also requires a master's degree. Librarians oversee a school's collection of books and related academic materials, and they help students locate the resources they need to complete assignments and projects.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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