What Does an Assistant Principal Do?

Research what it takes to become an assistant principal. Learn about job duties, education requirements, employment outlook and wages to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Principal Licensure degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Assistant Principal?

Assistant principals are education professionals who focus on the administrative work involved in operating a school. They are involved in overseeing teaching staff, and must ensure that the school standards for curriculum and discipline are followed. When necessary, they'll help teachers with strategies for implementing the curriculum. They may also address disciplinary concerns, communicate with parents and, when necessary, meet with parents and teachers to discuss ongoing issues. Assistant principals help schedule classes and activities. Part of their job also involves assessing the performance of the school's teachers and coaches.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Education, School Counseling, Educational Leadership, Educational Administration
Key Responsibilities Management, counseling, discipline, evaluation, organization, parental meetings
Job Growth for Principals (2014-2024) 6%* for elementary, middle and high school principals
Median Salary for Assistant Principals (2017) $81,747**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com

What Do Assistant Principals Do?

Assistant principals help school principals with general administrative tasks. These vary from district to district and even school to school, but broadly fall into the areas of planning, coordinating services and maintaining order. Planning duties might include consulting with the principal, administering the school's mission and priorities, developing master course schedules, and implementing school programs and activities.

As an assistant principal, you must adjust class schedules; evaluate, hire and train new staffers; order textbooks, equipment and supplies; communicate with colleagues, teachers, parents and students; and supervise student transportation services. To maintain order in schools, you must monitor classrooms, evaluate teacher performance, respond to complaints about school policy, discipline students and prepare reports for juvenile court hearings. You also must meet with social workers, probation officers and parents to discuss options for chronically misbehaving or troubled students.

What Should I Study?

In order to become an assistant principal, your surest path is to accumulate teaching experience and then earn a master's degree in education leadership or education administration. Most assistant principals transition into administrative positions after working as teachers, and most public and private schools require assistant principals to have at least a master's degree.

Master's programs in education leadership or education administration use a combination of classroom study, internships and seminars to teach contemporary theories and current practices of school leadership in the K-12 grades. Courses engage such topics as personnel management, curriculum design, needs analysis and community relations. A master's degree is typically earned in two years.

What Is the Job Outlook?

While small schools might not have positions for assistant principals, larger schools might have more than one. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of K-12 principals will increase 6% from 2014-2024, primarily due to population growth (www.bls.gov). The BLS does not have a separate category for assistant principals.

How Much Might I Earn?

According to Salary.com, as of January 2017, assistant principals in the 25th-75th percentile earned $71,262-$95,536 per year, with a median of $81,747. This salary may vary somewhat, depending on the level of school at which a principal works.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instructional coordinators and preschool and childcare center directors have occupations that are similar to the work of an assistant principal. Instructional coordinators need a master's degree, and they are involved in determining the curriculum and materials that will be used in all classes at all grade levels. When implementing this curriculum, they may review instructional methods with teachers to help ensure that their performance meets school standards. Instructional coordinators also review the effectiveness of a curriculum. Preschool and childcare center directors also design curricula, oversee their staff and evaluate their performance. They need a bachelor's degree.

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