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Become A School Principal

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Working As A 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

  • $146,314

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 A 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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School Principal Videos

Elementary School Principal, Career Video from drkit.org

Principal Snow Day at Waterloo

Elementary School Principal - Career Conversation

School Principal Jobs

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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
School Principal 4.0 years
School Director 3.5 years
Vice Principal 3.3 years
School Supervisor 2.6 years
Top Careers Before School Principal
Teacher 28.4%
Principal 10.9%
Instructor 3.7%
Director 1.8%
Top Careers After School Principal
Principal 20.7%
Teacher 11.1%
Director 3.7%
Instructor 3.6%
Coach 2.4%
Educator 2.3%

Do you work as a School Principal?

School Principal Demographics

Gender

Female

52.8%

Male

43.6%

Unknown

3.6%
Ethnicity

White

57.7%

Hispanic or Latino

18.4%

Black or African American

12.0%

Asian

7.6%

Unknown

4.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

62.5%

French

9.7%

German

4.2%

Arabic

4.2%

Portuguese

2.8%

Russian

2.8%

Filipino

1.4%

Hebrew

1.4%

Dutch

1.4%

Japanese

1.4%

Amharic

1.4%

Dakota

1.4%

Tagalog

1.4%

Mandarin

1.4%

Korean

1.4%

Italian

1.4%
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School Principal Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

11.5%

Nova Southeastern University

10.8%

Walden University

10.0%

George Washington University

6.9%

Grand Canyon University

6.2%

Texas A&M University

4.6%

George Mason University

4.6%

Teachers College of Columbia University

4.6%

Wayne State University

3.8%

University of Nebraska at Omaha

3.8%

Temple University

3.8%

Lamar University

3.8%

Capella University

3.8%

New York University

3.1%

Clark Atlanta University

3.1%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.1%

University of North Texas

3.1%

University of La Verne

3.1%

University of Southern Mississippi

3.1%

Howard University

3.1%
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Majors

Educational Leadership

38.6%

Education

18.1%

Elementary Education

8.4%

Business

7.8%

Special Education

4.5%

School Counseling

3.0%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.4%

English

1.9%

Psychology

1.9%

Curriculum And Instruction

1.8%

Management

1.8%

Social Work

1.3%

Political Science

1.3%

Theology

1.3%

Liberal Arts

1.2%

Secondary Education And Teaching

1.2%

History

1.0%

Philosophy

0.7%

Early Childhood Education

0.7%

Health Education

0.7%
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Degrees

Masters

48.8%

Other

18.7%

Doctorate

13.0%

Bachelors

11.6%

Certificate

4.7%

Associate

1.8%

Diploma

1.0%

License

0.5%
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School Principal Videos

Elementary School Principal, Career Video from drkit.org

Principal Snow Day at Waterloo

Elementary School Principal - Career Conversation

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Part Time
Internship
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Real School Principal Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Lower School Principal Tarbut V Torah Community Day School Irvine, CA Oct 01, 2011 $152,000
Lower School Principal French American International School San Francisco, CA Sep 09, 2010 $120,000
School Principal/Executive Director Montessori School of Lake Forest Lake Forest, IL Aug 30, 2011 $120,000
Director, Lower School (Principal) Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL Jul 01, 2014 $112,000
Upper School Principal & Assistant Head of School International School of Indiana, Inc. Indianapolis, IN Apr 01, 2014 $108,264
School Principal Imagine Schools Inc. Arlington, VA May 19, 2015 $101,800
Principal, Japanese School The French Japanese Educational Institute of New York Inc. New York, NY Aug 24, 2016 $98,661
Upper School Principal International School of Indiana, Inc. Indianapolis, IN Jun 13, 2012 $95,727
Upper School Principal International School of Indiana, Inc. Indianapolis, IN Jul 01, 2012 $95,727
Principal, Japanese School The French Japanese Educational Institute of New Y New York, NY Sep 18, 2011 $95,037
Principal, Japanese School The French Japanese Educational Institute of New Y New York, NY Aug 24, 2013 $93,000
Turnaround School Principal Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Jul 03, 2010 $92,984
Turnaround School Principal Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Jul 13, 2010 $92,984
Nursery School Principal La Fondation Du Lycee Francais International de Wa Bethesda, MD Oct 01, 2010 $92,000 -
$140,000
Lower School Principal/Pyp Coordinator International School of Indiana, Inc. Indianapolis, IN Oct 01, 2010 $90,000
Lower School Associate Principal The Woodlands Preparatory School, LLC Tomball, TX Jun 23, 2015 $90,000
School Principal Milkyway Education Center, Inc. Wayne, NJ Aug 15, 2013 $90,000
School Principal/Director Basis Educational Group Scottsdale, AZ Oct 01, 2013 $84,000 -
$99,000
School Principal/Director Basis Educational Group Phoenix, AZ Oct 01, 2013 $84,000 -
$99,000
School Principal/Director Basis Educational Group Scottsdale, AZ Oct 01, 2010 $80,000
School Principal Wayman Academy of The Arts, Inc. Jacksonville, FL Jul 01, 2015 $75,000
School Principal Wayman Academy of The Arts, Inc. Jacksonville, FL Jan 15, 2013 $75,000
Lower School Principal French-American International School San Francisco, CA Feb 02, 2010 $74,970 -
$120,000
Charter School Principal River City Education Services, Inc. Jacksonville, FL Sep 15, 2010 $74,563 -
$85,000
Charter School Principal New Springs Inc. Tampa, FL Jul 17, 2013 $72,010

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Top Skills for A School Principal

  1. Curriculum
  2. Professional Development
  3. Student Performance
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed program development and evaluation, curriculum and instruction, teacher training, served as testing coordinator and fulfilled district responsibilities.
  • Coordinated training and professional development to insure high quality instruction and learning across the curriculum.
  • Work directly with students, faculty and staff to develop a positive school culture with a focus on enhanced student performance.
  • Supervised the instructional program and supported classroom teachers in classroom management.
  • Presented at the International Polar Year summer Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

What is it like to work as a School Principal

5.0

School Principal

April 3, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

School Principal.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as School Principal?

Working with children, teachers and parents. Developing programs to suit a child's needs and interests, mmoments in learning and understanding... Show More

What do you NOT like?

Pressure from parents, pressure from the board, stressful and time demanding obstacles. The fact that people treat you so utterly poorly once you become a Principal... Show More

How Would You Rate Working As a School Principal?

Are you working as a School Principal? Help us rate School Principal as a Career.

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Top 10 Best States for School Principals

  1. New Jersey
  2. Delaware
  3. California
  4. Connecticut
  5. Minnesota
  6. Rhode Island
  7. Washington
  8. New York
  9. Oregon
  10. Illinois
  • (178 jobs)
  • (31 jobs)
  • (2,059 jobs)
  • (50 jobs)
  • (132 jobs)
  • (26 jobs)
  • (105 jobs)
  • (158 jobs)
  • (71 jobs)
  • (663 jobs)

Top School Principal Employers

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Jobs From Top School Principal Employers

School Principal Videos

Elementary School Principal, Career Video from drkit.org

Principal Snow Day at Waterloo

Elementary School Principal - Career Conversation

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