What's the Average Salary of an Elementary School Principal?
Explore the career requirements for elementary school principals. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, job growth and average salary to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Is an Elementary School Principal?
Although daily tasks vary depending on the school, elementary school principals' primary responsibility is to ensure a safe learning environment for students and support teachers and staff. Elementary school principals may observe teachers, discipline children, oversee schedules, develop curricula and manage the school budget. These professionals often meet with teachers and/or parents to discuss a student's progress or behavioral issues. They also periodically evaluate their teachers and provide professional development opportunities for them through workshops. To learn more about the average salary for these positions, in addition to entry-level requirements, take a look at the table below:
|Degree Required||Master's or doctoral degree|
|Education Field of Study||Elementary education administration, educational leadership|
|Key Responsibilities||Manage teachers and staff, assess student achievement, balance school budgets|
|Licensure||State licensure as a school administrator is typically required for positions in public schools|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||4% (for elementary and secondary school administrators)*|
|Average Salary (2018)||$95,310 (for elementary and secondary school administrators)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Becoming an Elementary School Principal
The requirements to become an elementary school principal can vary according to the institution. You may need a master's degree or a specialized doctoral degree in elementary education administration or educational leadership. Master's degrees typically take 2-3 years to complete and culminate in a thesis, while doctoral degrees take 4-6 years to finish and culminate in a dissertation.
In graduate degrees in this field, you could learn about the history of urban education, public educational policy, qualitative research methodologies, education organization and administrative behavior. Other areas of study could include the politics of education, administration for elementary education, educational finance, pedagogical issues and decision-making in education administrations. Courses in these programs often combine pedagogical training with business and leadership training.
In addition to your education, you'll need teaching experience. Some employers might also value job applicants who have knowledge of management, customer service, security or public safety. Active listening, critical thinking, writing, speaking and reading comprehension could also be helpful skills.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 4% increase in employment opportunities for elementary and secondary school administrators between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). This job growth was expected to be driven by increasing enrollment numbers, especially in the country's Western and Southern regions.
The BLS stated that the average salary for elementary and secondary school principals was $95,310 as of 2018. Texas, California, New York, Illinois and Ohio were the states with the highest concentration of employment, while New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, California and Washington paid the highest average annual wages.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
A few related careers that require a master's degree include librarians, instructional coordinators and school counselors. Librarians work in all kinds of libraries to help people find various information or particular books and resources. Instructional coordinators work in schools to help develop and implement new learning standards as well as the instructional materials designed to help students meet them. School counselors focus on giving students the necessary behavioral, social and learning skills they need to do well in school.