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Become A Principal

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Working As A 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

  • $115,000

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 A 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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Principal Jobs

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Principal Demographics

Gender

Male

63.3%

Female

33.9%

Unknown

2.8%
Ethnicity

White

80.8%

Hispanic or Latino

8.4%

Asian

8.1%

Unknown

1.9%

Black or African American

0.7%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

39.6%

French

18.2%

German

6.8%

Italian

5.3%

Chinese

5.1%

Mandarin

4.3%

Portuguese

4.2%

Russian

2.8%

Japanese

2.7%

Arabic

1.8%

Korean

1.3%

Carrier

1.3%

Hindi

1.1%

Hebrew

1.1%

Cantonese

1.0%

Persian

0.8%

Dutch

0.8%

Greek

0.7%

Urdu

0.6%

Armenian

0.5%
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Principal Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

8.9%

New York University

6.7%

Harvard University

6.3%

Michigan State University

5.4%

Cornell University

5.4%

Boston University

5.0%

University of Texas at Austin

4.9%

Northwestern University

4.8%

University of Southern California

4.7%

University of Pennsylvania

4.7%

University of Chicago

4.6%

Arizona State University

4.6%

George Washington University

4.6%

Nova Southeastern University

4.4%

Temple University

4.3%

Columbia University

4.3%

Syracuse University

4.2%

Iowa State University

4.1%

Northeastern University

4.1%

University of Iowa

4.0%
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Majors

Business

23.3%

Educational Leadership

12.8%

Education

7.1%

Finance

7.0%

Law

6.4%

Marketing

5.3%

Management

4.7%

Accounting

4.4%

Communication

3.2%

Elementary Education

3.2%

Computer Science

3.2%

Political Science

2.9%

English

2.6%

Psychology

2.4%

Economics

2.2%

Journalism

2.0%

Electrical Engineering

1.9%

Architecture

1.9%

Graphic Design

1.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.8%
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Degrees

Masters

36.2%

Bachelors

31.4%

Other

16.0%

Doctorate

9.4%

Certificate

3.6%

Associate

2.6%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
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Real Principal Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Principal KPMG LLP Santa Clara, CA May 20, 2016 $475,000 -
$1,625,000
Principal Pricewaterhousecoopers New York, NY Jan 10, 2015 $455,000
Principal Warburg Pincus LLC New York, NY Sep 16, 2015 $425,000
Principal Indaba Capital Management, L.P. San Francisco, CA Sep 23, 2015 $400,000
Assurance Principal Partner Pricewaterhousecoopers LLP Florham Park, NJ Jan 06, 2016 $375,000
Principal QIC Us Investment Services Inc. San Francisco, CA Nov 17, 2016 $324,127
Principal, Healthcare Structured Finance TPG Opportunities Partners, L.P. San Francisco, CA Aug 26, 2015 $300,000
Principal TPG Opportunities Partners, L.P. San Francisco, CA Feb 08, 2016 $300,000
Principal Nanodimension Redwood City, CA Oct 26, 2015 $275,000
Principal Nanodimension, Inc. Woodside, CA May 09, 2016 $275,000
Principal Greenhill & Co., LLC New York, NY Mar 02, 2015 $250,000 -
$280,000
Principal Advisor Freehills Us New York, NY Jan 12, 2015 $250,000 -
$1,250,000
Principal Capgemini Financial Services USA Inc. New York, NY Aug 24, 2015 $250,000
Principal Claros Fund Management LLC New York, NY Mar 16, 2015 $250,000
Principal Geologist Conocophillips Company Houston, TX Aug 12, 2015 $170,160 -
$255,240
Principal The Schmidt Family Foundation Palo Alto, CA Jul 21, 2016 $170,000
Principal Geologist Statoil Gulf Services LLC Houston, TX Aug 12, 2015 $170,000
Principal Promontory Financial Group, LLC Washington, DC Mar 11, 2015 $170,000
Renewable Energy Principal Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 28, 2015 $170,000
Principal Westernacher & Partner Consulting, Inc. Wellesley, MA Apr 18, 2016 $170,000
Principal Nokia Solutions and Networks Us LLC Sunnyvale, CA Apr 09, 2016 $170,000
Principal Resource Geologist SRK Consulting (U.S.), Inc. Lakewood, CO Jun 30, 2015 $140,005
Principal Analytical Lead Google Inc. New York, NY May 25, 2016 $140,000
Spirits Maker, Principal E. & J. Gallo Winery Modesto, CA Oct 20, 2015 $140,000 -
$150,000
Principal-Enterprise Applications Infosys Limited Los Angeles, CA Mar 31, 2015 $140,000
Principal G.H. Smart and Company, Incorporated Chicago, IL May 23, 2016 $140,000 -
$200,000
Principal Promontory Financial Group, LLC Washington, DC Jan 10, 2016 $140,000 -
$225,000
Principal G.H. Smart and Company, Incorporated Chicago, IL Apr 15, 2016 $140,000 -
$200,000
Principal Sun Mountain Capital LLC Santa Fe, NM Dec 18, 2015 $140,000

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Top Skills for A Principal

FinancialServicesBusinessStrategyCurriculumDevelopmentComplianceProductDevelopmentBusinessDevelopmentWebRealEstateProjectManagementProfessionalDevelopmentSafetyBusinessPlanHealthcarePolicySmallBusinessHumanResourcesInfrastructureCustomerServiceAdditionalStaffMembers

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  1. Financial Services
  2. Business Strategy
  3. Curriculum Development
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed large business, technology and organizational improvement projects for software, professional services, entertainment, and financial services clients.
  • Implemented an e-business strategy to increase global inventory visibility.
  • Assist with curriculum development, implementation and evaluation.
  • Created and customized vulnerability scanners codes and audit scripts to verify DHS security policy compliance.
  • Served as user champion when coordinating product development with business stakeholders; aligned all development activity with business goals and priorities.

How Would You Rate Working As a Principal?

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Top Principal Employers

Principal Videos

Career Advice on becoming a Vice Principal by Amanda H (Full Version)

Career Advice on becoming a Vice Principal by Amanda H (Highlights)

A Principal provides Parenting Advice for parents of preschoolers from drkit.org