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Southern New Hampshire University

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Purdue University Global

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Liberty University

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Grand Canyon University

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What Is Educational Leadership?

Educational leadership is usually the responsibility of school administrators and principals, who strive to create positive change in educational policy and processes. Read on to learn more about this position and the opportunities available in this field.

Educational Leadership Defined

Educational leadership involves working with and guiding teachers toward improving educational processes in elementary, secondary and postsecondary institutions. Those in educational leadership roles tend to go above and beyond just management and administrative tasks, however. They are trained to advance and improve educational systems and create and enact policies. Educational leaders usually are employed as school principals or administrators but can take on additional roles, such as department chair or academic dean.

Important Facts About These Occupations

Principals Postsecondary Administrators
Median Salary (2018) $95,310 (for all elementary, middle, and high school principals)* $94,340 (for all postsecondary education administrators)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 8% (for all elementary, middle, and high school principals)* 10% (for all postsecondary education administrators)*
Licensure Required in most states Typically not required
Key Skills Communication, decision-making and leadership skills Computer, interpersonal and organizational skills

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Function of Educational Leadership

Professionals working in educational leadership focus on improving educational programming. They hire and manage teachers and staff, prepare budgets, set curriculum standards and set school-wide policies. They might work on team building efforts or restructure the organization to affect necessary change. Many educational leaders are involved with policy development or reform issues dealing with education on the local, state or national level.

Careers in Educational Leadership

Careers in educational leadership can be found at all levels of education, from pre-school program directors to academic deans at universities. At the college or university level, educational leaders are employed as department chairs, athletic directors or curriculum directors. In elementary and secondary schools, educational leaders work as principals, assistant principals, athletic directors, headmasters, lead teachers or deans. Other educational leaders work with advocacy groups, lobby groups or other non-profit organizations to create or reform policy and educational systems.

Educational Leadership Education Programs

Educational leadership programs are usually offered at the graduate level. These programs award Master of Educational Leadership or Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership degrees. Aspiring principals will typically need a master's degree, while superintendents and university provosts will generally need a doctoral degree. Online programs are also offered by several institutions so these professionals can maintain their current roles while also advancing their education. Programs cover the theory and practice of education, the role of education in society, teaching methods, psychology, school law and technology used in educational settings.