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Average Salary
$57,921
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
4%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
32,319
Job Openings

School Administrator Careers

What Does a School Administrator 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.

How To Become a School Administrator

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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Average Salary
$57,921
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
4%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
32,319
Job Openings

School Administrator Career Paths

Top Careers Before School Administrator

Teacher
30.3 %

Top Careers After School Administrator

Teacher
15.2 %

School Administrator Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for a School Administrator

School Administrators in America make an average salary of $57,921 per year or $28 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $84,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $39,000 per year.
Average Salary
$57,921
Find Your Salary Estimate
How much should you be earning as an Architect? Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to get an estimation of how much you should be earning.

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Hamden, CT
Salary Range59k - 102k$78k$78,352
Las Vegas, NV
Salary Range57k - 92k$73k$72,958
Baltimore, MD
Salary Range52k - 94k$70k$70,410
New York, NY
Salary Range50k - 89k$68k$67,689
Waukegan, IL
Salary Range50k - 91k$68k$67,656
Santa Clara, CA
Salary Range52k - 85k$67k$67,140
$37k
$102k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
School Liaison-State Prog Admin Intermediate
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State of Minnesota
State of Minnesota
06/07/2021
06/07/2021
$45,58106/07/2021
$45,581
School Administrator
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Primrose School
Primrose School
03/27/2021
03/27/2021
$35,47903/27/2021
$35,479
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Primrose School
Primrose School
01/28/2021
01/28/2021
$35,47901/28/2021
$35,479
Substitute School Administrator
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Menifee Union School District
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01/26/2021
01/26/2021
$52,17501/26/2021
$52,175
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Golden Rule Plumbing Heat
Golden Rule Plumbing Heat
01/16/2021
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$45,00001/16/2021
$45,000
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School Administrator Demographics

Gender

female

55.2 %

male

37.2 %

unknown

7.6 %

Ethnicity

White

67.5 %

Hispanic or Latino

13.6 %

Black or African American

12.0 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0 %

French

7.0 %

Italian

7.0 %
See More Demographics

School Administrator Education

Majors

Education
15.8 %
Business
12.8 %

Degrees

Bachelors

47.0 %

Masters

24.9 %

Certificate

13.2 %

Top Colleges for School Administrators

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

4. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

5. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

6. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,094
Enrollment
32,974

7. SUNY at Buffalo

Buffalo, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,099
Enrollment
21,404

8. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

9. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

10. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,488
Enrollment
30,018
See More Education Info

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Top Skills For a School Administrator

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 38.8% of school administrators listed student records on their resume, but soft skills such as decision-making skills and leadership skills are important as well.

Best States For a School Administrator

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a school administrator. The best states for people in this position are Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Delaware. School administrators make the most in Connecticut with an average salary of $78,229. Whereas in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, they would average $77,890 and $76,570, respectively. While school administrators would only make an average of $76,441 in Delaware, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New Hampshire

Total School Administrator Jobs:
261
Highest 10% Earn:
$120,000
Location Quotient:
1.4
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Connecticut

Total School Administrator Jobs:
494
Highest 10% Earn:
$130,000
Location Quotient:
1.4
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Rhode Island

Total School Administrator Jobs:
163
Highest 10% Earn:
$126,000
Location Quotient:
1.26
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top School Administrator Employers

1. KinderCare Learning Centers
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$64,060
School Administrators Hired: 
9+
2. City of Roseville
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$71,930
School Administrators Hired: 
6+
3. Union County Schools
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$66,333
School Administrators Hired: 
6+
4. United States Navy
3.7
Avg. Salary: 
$65,096
School Administrators Hired: 
5+
5. United States Army
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$64,821
School Administrators Hired: 
5+
6. Victory Christian School
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$67,348
School Administrators Hired: 
4+

School Administrator Videos

Updated October 2, 2020