What's the Job Description of a Vice Principal?
Discover what it takes to become a vice principal. Learn about career options along with degree requirements, responsibilities, and career growth to find out if this is the career for you.
What is a Vice Principal?
Vice principals, also known as assistant principals, help principals with the overall administration of elementary, middle and high schools. Their job duties may vary depending on the type and size of the school they work in, but they usually are responsible for assisting the principal in managing the teachers, communicating with parents, solving disciplinary problems, and managing the school budget. The chart below provides some information on degree requirements as well as potential earnings and job duties.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's or master's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Elementary education, secondary education, educational psychology, education administration|
|Training or Licensure||Many schools require prior teaching experience; Some states require a state-issued educator's license|
|Key Responsibilities||Coordinate resources for students, staff, and parents; handle course schedules, coordinate activities and counsel students|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||4% growth* (for all elementary, middle, and high school principals)|
|Median Salary (2019)||$71,959**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com
What Skills Do I Need to Become a Vice Principal?
As a vice principal, you'd help to recruit, hire and train primary and supplementary staff, requiring that you have excellent managerial, interviewing and communication skills. Since you could be called upon to coordinate resources for students, teachers and classrooms, you'll need to know how to operate specific computer software programs and other multimedia equipment. You'll also handle class scheduling, curricula planning and keeping classrooms adequately stocked with lesson materials and other supplies.
In addition to interpersonal skills, you'll need to be able to adequately mete out disciplinary action to students. However, you'll also get to coordinate student activities, social events and transportation for school-sponsored recreation and sports functions. You might need to step in to assist a student counselor with academic, personal or employment counseling for students in need.
What Education Do I Need?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many principals hold teaching positions before they move into an administrative role, and some states might require you to gain teaching experience (www.bls.gov). You can qualify to teach at the primary and secondary levels with a bachelor's degree and educational training. However, to continue as a teacher and to become a vice principal, some states require that you earn a master's degree.
A master's degree program in education administration includes courses on school law, financial aspects of school management, decision-making strategies and organizational theory. Some of these programs are available in a blended or online format, allowing you to complete some or all courses at your convenience. You might need to complete a practicum or portfolio before you can graduate. Other programs include an internship, letting you work with a school administrator to experience first-hand what the job entails.
What About Licensing?
In most states, you need to be licensed in order to become a school administrator. If you also continue to offer teaching services, you could need to obtain a state teaching license. Private schools have fewer restrictions, and you might not need advanced education or licensure. The professional educator's license requirements vary based upon the state, but some states require you to pass a licensing test. Additionally, you might also need to take continuing education courses to maintain your license, ensuring that you're current with rules and regulations.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
If you have a strong interest in working with students more directly, you may wish to pursue a career as an elementary, middle, or high school teacher. For individuals who love the administrative aspect of being a vice principal, it is also possible to pursue a career as a head principal, though this job may have a few more responsibilities. You also may be interested in becoming another type of school administrator, such as working for the board of education.