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Become An Elementary School Principal

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Working As An Elementary School Principal

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Developing and Building Teams
  • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Make Decisions

  • $78,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Elementary School Principal Do

Elementary, middle, and high school principals manage all school operations, including daily school activities. They coordinate curricula, oversee teachers and other school staff, and provide a safe and productive learning environment for students.

Duties

Elementary, middle, and high school principals typically do the following:

  • Manage school activities and staff, including teachers and support personnel
  • Establish and oversee class schedules
  • Develop, implement, and maintain curriculum standards
  • Counsel and discipline students
  • Observe teachers and classroom activities
  • Assist teachers in managing students’ behavior
  • Evaluate teachers’ performance
  • Meet with parents and teachers to discuss students’ progress and behavior
  • Assess and prepare reports on test scores and other student achievement data
  • Organize professional development programs and workshops for staff
  • Manage the school’s budget, order school supplies, and schedule maintenance
  • Establish and coordinate security procedures for students, staff, and visitors

Elementary, middle, and high school principals manage the overall operation of schools, including building maintenance and cafeteria services. They set and oversee academic goals and ensure that teachers have the necessary equipment and resources. In public schools, principals also implement standards and programs set by the school district, state, and/or federal regulations. They evaluate and prepare reports on their school’s performance based on these standards by assessing student achievement and teacher performance. Principals may establish and oversee additional programs in their school, such as counseling, special education programs, and before- and after-school childcare programs.

Principals serve as the public face of their school. They meet with superintendents, legislators, and members of the community to request or explain funding for their schools. They also address the concerns of parents and members of the community.

The duties of principals vary by the size of the school and district. In larger schools and districts, principals have additional resources and staff to help them achieve goals. For example, large school districts often have instructional coordinators who help with data analysis and with teachers’ professional development. Principals also may have staff who oversee the hiring process of all school personnel, including teachers, custodians, and cafeteria workers. Principals in small school districts may need to assume these and other duties themselves.

Many schools have assistant principals who help principals with school administration. Principals typically assign specific administrative duties to their assistant principals. In some school districts, assistant principals are hired to handle a specific subject area, such as literacy or math. Assistants may be assigned to handle student safety, provide student academic counseling, or enforce disciplinary or attendance rules. They may also coordinate buses or supervise building and grounds maintenance.

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How To Become An Elementary School Principal

Most schools require elementary, middle, and high school principals to have a master’s degree in education administration or leadership. Most principals also have work experience as teachers.

Education

Principals typically need a master’s degree in education leadership or education administration. These master’s degree programs prepare future principals to manage staff, prepare and manage budgets, set goals, and work with parents and the community. To enter the master’s degree programs, candidates typically need a bachelor’s degree in education, school counseling, or a related field.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Principals typically need several years of work experience as a teacher. For more information on how to become a teacher, see the profiles on kindergarten and elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and high school teachers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require public school principals to be licensed as school administrators. Licensure requirements vary by state, but most require a master’s degree. Some states have alternative programs for candidates who do not have a master’s degree in education administration or leadership. Most states also require candidates to pass an exam and a background check.

Principals in private schools are not required to have a state-issued license.

Advancement

An assistant principal can advance to become a principal. Some principals advance to become superintendents, which may require completion of additional education. Others become instructional coordinators.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Principals must communicate effectively with students, teachers, and parents. For example, when dealing with student disciplinary or academic issues, they consult with and listen to parents and teachers to understand the problem.

Critical-thinking skills. Principals analyze student test results and testing procedures to determine if improvements are needed. They must assess the available options and choose the best means to help students achieve better results.

Decisionmaking skills. Because principals are responsible for students, staff members, and the overall operation of the school, they consider many factors when making decisions.

Interpersonal skills. Because principals work with teachers, parents, and superintendents, they must be able to develop positive working relationships with them.

Leadership skills. Principals set educational goals and establish policies and procedures for the school. They need to be able to motivate teachers and other staff to achieve set goals.

Problem-solving skills. Teachers, students, and other staff members report problems to the principal. Principals need to be able to analyze problems, and develop and implement appropriate solutions.

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Elementary School Principal Career Paths

Elementary School Principal
High School Principal Superintendent
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
School Principal Principal
Vice President
6 Yearsyrs
School Principal
Principal
11 Yearsyrs
Superintendent Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Superintendent Owner
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
High School Principal Assistant Superintendent
Executive Director
10 Yearsyrs
High School Principal
9 Yearsyrs
School Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Assistant Superintendent Project Manager
Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Assistant Superintendent Owner
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
School Principal Director
Regional Director
9 Yearsyrs
Director
Service Director
9 Yearsyrs
Director Nursing Director
Interim Director
10 Yearsyrs
High School Principal
Athletic Director
5 Yearsyrs
Executive Director President
Chairperson, Board Of Directors
6 Yearsyrs
Executive Director Chief Operating Officer
Chief Executive Officer And Operator
9 Yearsyrs
Executive Director Regional Vice President
National Director
10 Yearsyrs
Director Of Instruction Program Director
Center Director
7 Yearsyrs
Director Of Instruction Vice President
Advisory Board Member
5 Yearsyrs
Director Of Instruction Operations Director
Director Of Facilities
11 Yearsyrs
Director Of Special Education
Director Of Special Services
8 Yearsyrs
Director Of Special Education Education Director
Campus Director
7 Yearsyrs
Director Of Special Education Program Director
Education Director
7 Yearsyrs
Director Of Human Resources President
Commissioner
5 Yearsyrs
Director Of Human Resources Chief Finance Officer
Chief Administrative Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Director Of Human Resources Development Director
Director Of Advancement
11 Yearsyrs
Curriculum Director Center Director
School Director
6 Yearsyrs
Program Director
Communications Director
6 Yearsyrs
Curriculum Director
8 Yearsyrs
Curriculum Director Operations Director
Chief Of Staff
7 Yearsyrs
School Director President
Founder And Executive Director
6 Yearsyrs
School Director Development Director
Deputy Director
9 Yearsyrs
School Director Regional Director
Division Director
9 Yearsyrs
Planning Committee Member Assistant Director
Director Of Admissions
7 Yearsyrs
Planning Committee Member Medical Director
Administrative Director
8 Yearsyrs
Planning Committee Member Development Director
Interim Executive Director
11 Yearsyrs
Curriculum Director Education Director
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Education Director Managing Director
Client Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Athletic Director Activities Director
Resident Services Director
6 Yearsyrs
Athletic Director Unit Director
Area Director
8 Yearsyrs
Athletic Director Chief Operating Officer
Founder And Director
6 Yearsyrs
Early Childhood Services Director
8 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Elementary School Principal?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Principal 4.8 years
Building Principal 4.6 years
School Principal 4.3 years
Vice Principal 3.9 years
School Director 3.7 years
School Supervisor 2.8 years
Top Careers Before Elementary School Principal
Teacher 25.7%
Principal 9.4%
Top Careers After Elementary School Principal
Principal 17.7%
Teacher 10.1%
Director 3.5%
Consultant 2.6%

Do you work as an Elementary School Principal?

Average Yearly Salary
$78,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$38,000
Min 10%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$158,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Riverside Unified School District
Highest Paying City
Westminster, CO
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
5.7 years
How much does an Elementary School Principal make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Elementary School Principal in the United States is $78,564 per year or $38 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $38,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $159,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of an Elementary School Principal?

Have you worked as an Elementary School Principal? Help other job seekers by rating your experience as an Elementary School Principal.

Top Skills for An Elementary School Principal

  1. Curriculum Development
  2. Student Learning
  3. Staff Members
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Facilitated staff and team meetings to target school improvement, curriculum development and accreditation.
  • Developed and implemented instructional leadership with the emphasis on enhanced student learning through innovative, effective appropriate methods and materials.
  • Supervised and evaluated 65 staff members
  • Delivered professional development in literacy/math instruction and assessment, classroom management, school improvement processes, and strategies for student engagement.
  • Established committee of teachers who addressed the problems of students with special needs.

Elementary School Principal Demographics

Gender

Female

51.7%

Male

37.6%

Unknown

10.7%
Ethnicity

White

65.6%

Hispanic or Latino

14.9%

Black or African American

10.9%

Asian

5.4%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

67.3%

French

8.2%

Portuguese

4.1%

German

4.1%

Chinese

2.0%

Dakota

2.0%

Japanese

2.0%

Mandarin

2.0%

Russian

2.0%

Arabic

2.0%

Navajo

2.0%

Korean

2.0%
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Elementary School Principal Education

Schools

Nova Southeastern University

10.1%

University of Phoenix

8.8%

Grand Canyon University

7.4%

University of Central Missouri

5.1%

Temple University

5.1%

Capella University

5.1%

University of South Dakota

5.1%

Wayne State University

4.6%

William Woods University

4.6%

Walden University

4.6%

Ball State University

4.6%

University of North Texas

4.1%

Lamar University

4.1%

Eastern Michigan University

4.1%

Northcentral University

4.1%

Arizona State University

3.7%

Southwestern Oklahoma State University

3.7%

Northwest Missouri State University

3.7%

National Louis University

3.7%

Florida State University

3.7%
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Majors

Educational Leadership

48.0%

Education

15.8%

Elementary Education

10.4%

Business

6.2%

Special Education

3.2%

Curriculum And Instruction

2.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.7%

Management

1.5%

School Counseling

1.2%

Psychology

1.2%

Early Childhood Education

1.1%

English

1.0%

Secondary Education And Teaching

0.9%

Health Education

0.8%

Counseling Psychology

0.8%

Theology

0.5%

History

0.5%

Liberal Arts

0.5%

Music

0.5%

Educational Technology

0.5%
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Degrees

Masters

51.2%

Other

21.4%

Doctorate

11.5%

Bachelors

8.7%

Certificate

5.5%

Associate

0.9%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.3%
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Top Elementary School Principal Employers

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Jobs From Top Elementary School Principal Employers

Elementary School Principal Videos

A Morning in the Life of an Elementary School Principal

Principal Snow Day at Waterloo

Elementary School Principal, Career Video from drkit.org

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