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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

  • $90,410

    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 jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Principal 4.5 years
School Director 3.6 years
School Principal 3.6 years
Vice Principal 3.3 years
Top Employers Before
Teacher 24.6%
Principal 9.0%
Top Employers After
Principal 17.3%
Teacher 10.0%
Director 4.1%
Consultant 2.3%

Elementary School Principal Demographics

Gender

Female

59.1%

Male

39.1%

Unknown

1.8%
Ethnicity

White

83.6%

Hispanic or Latino

9.4%

Asian

5.2%

Unknown

1.3%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.1%

French

7.1%

Chinese

4.8%

Mandarin

4.8%

German

4.8%

Portuguese

2.4%

Dakota

2.4%

Cantonese

2.4%

Japanese

2.4%

Russian

2.4%

Armenian

2.4%

Malayalam

2.4%

Arabic

2.4%

Korean

2.4%
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Elementary School Principal Education

Schools

Grand Canyon University

8.2%

Nova Southeastern University

7.5%

Walden University

6.7%

University of South Dakota

6.7%

University of Central Missouri

6.0%

University of Phoenix

6.0%

Ball State University

6.0%

Capella University

5.2%

Northwest Missouri State University

5.2%

Florida State University

4.5%

Northcentral University

4.5%

National University

3.7%

Wayne State University

3.7%

University of North Texas

3.7%

Xavier University

3.7%

William Woods University

3.7%

Southwestern Oklahoma State University

3.7%

University of Central Oklahoma

3.7%

Lamar University

3.7%

Texas A&M University

3.7%
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Majors

Educational Leadership

46.7%

Education

14.4%

Elementary Education

11.0%

Business

6.9%

Special Education

3.9%

Curriculum And Instruction

3.3%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.6%

Management

1.6%

School Counseling

1.3%

Counseling Psychology

1.2%

English

1.0%

Psychology

0.9%

Early Childhood Education

0.9%

Educational Technology

0.8%

Philosophy

0.7%

Operations Management

0.7%

Theology

0.7%

Sociology

0.5%

Social Work

0.5%

Secondary Education And Teaching

0.5%
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Degrees

Masters

48.9%

Other

23.0%

Doctorate

11.4%

Bachelors

10.4%

Certificate

4.7%

Associate

0.9%

License

0.4%

Diploma

0.4%
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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Elementary School Principal Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Elementary School Principal La Fondation Du Lycee Francais International de Wa Chevy Chase, MD Sep 29, 2013 $120,000
PYP Elementary Principal German-American International School Menlo Park, CA Sep 09, 2014 $93,713
Elementary School Principal La Fondation Du Lycee Francais International de Wa Chevy Chase, MD Oct 01, 2010 $92,000 -
$140,000
PYP Elementary Principal German-American International School Menlo Park, CA Jul 29, 2015 $90,260 -
$110,000
Elementary Principal Putnam City Schools Bethany, OK Aug 13, 2010 $63,018
Elementary Principal Alamance Christian School, Inc. Graham, NC Sep 03, 2013 $54,770 -
$55,000

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Top Skills for An Elementary School Principal

CurriculumDevelopmentProfessionalDevelopmentClassroomManagementMathematicsInstructionalLeaderStaffMembersSpecialEducationStudentAchievementStaffDevelopmentGradeLevelSuperviseProfessionalLearningCommunitiesLiteracyInstructionalProgramsLanguageArtsStudentDisciplineRTIK-5StudentLearningOversight

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Top Elementary School Principal Skills

  1. Curriculum Development
  2. Professional Development
  3. Classroom Management
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.
  • Facilitate professional development sessions for our corporation.
  • Directed classroom management for a 30-member faculty.
  • Upgraded mathematics curriculum for K-5, purchasing Book 3 of the Everyday Math series.
  • Developed and implemented instructional leadership with the emphasis on enhanced student learning through innovative, effective appropriate methods and materials.

Top Elementary School Principal Employers

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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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