Become a High School Principal in Florida

It is possible for persons to become principals in the state of Florida by earning an advanced degree and passing the relevant administrative assessments set by the Florida Department of Education.

Overview of Requirements for a Certified High School Principal in Florida

In order to become a certified principal, persons must have completed an advanced degree from an accredited college or university. The general requirements for attaining certification are summarized in the table below.

Education/Experience Required Master's degree
Exam Requirements FELE
Certification Renewal Period Five years
Requirements for Renewal Six semester hours of college credit
Median Salary (2018)$83,820 (elementary and high school principals in FL)*
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026) 8% (elementary, middle and high school principals nationally)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

General Academic Requirements

Prospective principals must have completed an approved educational leadership program from an accredited college or university. The Florida Department of Education maintains a list of approved institutions that offer Level 1 Educational Leadership programs that lead to Level 1 certification for principals. Currently, these are all master's programs and are offered by a variety of institutions in state.

Exam Requirements

Principals will also need to pass the Florida Educational Leadership Examination (FELE). The FELE is comprised of three subtests:

  • Subtest 1: Leadership for Student Learning,
  • Subtest 2: Organizational Development
  • Subtest 3: Systems Leadership.

The first two subtests last for 2 hours and have 70 multiple-choice questions. Subtest 3 has a 55-question multiple-choice section as well as a 60-minute written performance section. While candidates can register for each subtest separately, they must register for both sections of Subtest 3 if registering for the first time.

Performance Requirements

If applying for certification as a principal, the candidate must hold a valid professional certificate that covers educational leadership or administration. The candidate must also carry out the duties of a principal for at least a year, after which the candidate will be evaluated. The duties must have been carried out in a school district approved by the Florida Department of Education and must include:

  • full-time employment in a leadership position at a Florida public school that allows the candidate to show adherence to the Florida Principal Leadership Standards
  • a formally planned professional development program that will help the candidate carry out their duties as a principal effectively
  • a comprehensive execution of the main duties of a school principal
  • supervision of an approved practicing principal or district manager who is able to manage the program

At the end of the program, the candidate's competencies in school principalship standards will be evaluated based on a school district approved performance appraisal system.

Application Process

The persons who meet the initial qualifications of a master's degree in educational leadership and a valid Professional Certificate must contact the Florida Department of Education regarding the steps for application. The application process will include the submission of official transcripts and proof of current certification.

Additional Information

Principals will still need to maintain a valid Professional Certificate and as such may need to continue certificate renewal through the completion of the relevant semester hours. The Florida Department of Education has also established a standard for approved Level 2 Principal Education Programs that are open to persons who already hold a Level 1 Educational Leadership certificate or a valid Professional Certificate.