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What Are the Requirements for Becoming a School Administrator?

To become a public school administrator at the elementary or secondary level, you typically need a graduate degree and a license. Most schools prefer to hire administrators with previous teaching experience as well. Read on to learn more about the requirements for becoming a school administrator.

School Administrator Requirements

Requirements for school administrator positions vary based on different school policies and state regulations. In general, to enter this profession in elementary or secondary schools, you need previous teaching experience, a master's degree in the field and a school administrator license. Postsecondary administrators don't typically need to be licensed, though many of them hold master's or doctoral degrees.

Important Facts About School Administrators

Key Skills Conflict resolution, organization, interpersonal communication
Work Environment School or education facility
On-The-Job Training None required, though principals typically have teaching experience
Similar Occupations Human resources manager, teacher, public relations specialist

Teaching Experience

Most individuals in this profession start as teachers. Teachers must graduate from an accredited teacher-training program, pass an exam and obtain a state license. Teachers usually need a graduate degree to advance. You might work on a graduate degree while teaching, or you could return to school full-time.

Some individuals advance directly from teaching positions to administrator positions. You might move into assistant positions, such as a department head, and eventually work up to become an assistant principal or principal.

Graduate Degrees

In preparation for a career as a school administrator, you could pursue a master's degree in school administration or educational leadership. These programs teach management, leadership and business skills, in addition to professional communications, school policy and law, curriculum development, human resources, and project management.

School Administrator Licensing

Not all school administrator positions require licensing, including some of those at private schools and post-secondary schools. Public schools, pre-schools and day care centers typically do require licensing. The exact requirements for licensure depend on the state you're in, so check with the education board in your state for further details.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job openings for principals are projected to increase by 8% between 2016 and 2026, which is about average compared to other job sectors. Growth in this field will be limited by local and state government budget constraints. The median salary for education administrators at the elementary and secondary levels was $95,310 as of 2018, per the BLS.

The number of employed postsecondary administrators was expected to increase 10% during the 2016-2026 decade, which is roughly average. As of 2018, the median salary for these professionals was $94,340, reports the BLS.