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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

  • $78,000

    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 Jobs

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School Principal Career Paths

School Principal
Principal Vice President
Executive Director
10 Yearsyrs
Principal Director
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Principal Owner
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Principal
11 Yearsyrs
Director
Regional Director
9 Yearsyrs
Director Nursing Director
Interim Director
10 Yearsyrs
Executive Director President
Advisory Board Member
5 Yearsyrs
Executive Director Chief Operating Officer
Chief Of Staff
7 Yearsyrs
Executive Director Regional Vice President
National Director
10 Yearsyrs
High School Principal Superintendent
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
High School Principal
Athletic Director
5 Yearsyrs
High School Principal Athletic Director
Commissioner
5 Yearsyrs
Owner Assistant Director
Center Director
7 Yearsyrs
Owner Facilities Manager
Director Of Facilities
11 Yearsyrs
Education Director
Campus Director
7 Yearsyrs
Education Director Nursing Director
Administrative Director
8 Yearsyrs
Education Director President
Board President
6 Yearsyrs
High School Principal
9 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Office Manager
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Service Manager
Service Director
9 Yearsyrs
Program Director
Education Director
7 Yearsyrs
Program Director Operations Director
Director Of Service And Operations
11 Yearsyrs
Program Director Development Director
Interim Executive Director
11 Yearsyrs
Superintendent Project Manager
Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Superintendent Operations Manager
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
School Director President
Founder And Executive Director
6 Yearsyrs
School Director Summer Camp Director
Child Care Director
5 Yearsyrs
School Director Development Director
Area Director
8 Yearsyrs
Vice President Chief Finance Officer
Chief Administrative Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Vice President Planning Committee Member
Communications Director
6 Yearsyrs
Athletic Director Camp Director
School Director
6 Yearsyrs
Athletic Director Activities Director
Director Of Admissions
7 Yearsyrs
Center Director Service Director
Administrative Services Director
10 Yearsyrs
Center Director Regional Director
Director Of Training
7 Yearsyrs
Center Director Clinical Director
Founder And Director
6 Yearsyrs
Director Of Special Education
Director Of Special Services
8 Yearsyrs
Secondary School Principal
Elementary School Principal
12 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Program Manager
Director, Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Partner
Associate Director
8 Yearsyrs
Associate Pastor Chief Executive Officer
Deputy Director Of Operations
9 Yearsyrs
Associate Pastor Development Director
Engagement Director
10 Yearsyrs
Associate Pastor Communications Director
District Director
8 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Service Director
Director Of Support Services
9 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Deputy Director
Department Director
6 Yearsyrs
Secondary School Principal Elementary School Principal
Early Childhood Services Director
8 Yearsyrs
Secondary School Principal
8 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Building Principal 4.6 years
School Principal 4.0 years
Vice Principal 3.9 years
School Director 3.7 years
School Supervisor 2.8 years
Top Careers Before School Principal
Teacher 28.1%
Principal 10.2%
Instructor 3.3%
Director 2.3%
Top Careers After School Principal
Principal 21.3%
Teacher 11.5%
Director 3.1%
Instructor 3.0%
Consultant 2.4%
Educator 2.1%

Do you work as a School Principal?

Average Yearly Salary
$78,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$39,000
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%
$157,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Basis Educational Group Inc.
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.3 years
How much does a School Principal make at top companies?
The national average salary for a School Principal in the United States is $78,428 per year or $38 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $39,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $157,000.

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 Jul 01, 2012 $95,727
Upper School Principal International School of Indiana, Inc. Indianapolis, IN Jun 13, 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 13, 2010 $92,984
Turnaround School Principal Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Jul 03, 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 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
Upper School Principal International School of Indiana, Inc. Indianapolis, IN Jul 01, 2010 $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 Development
  2. Student Learning
  3. Classroom Management
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Stretched curriculum development function in all academic subjects to boost the quality of education.
  • Implemented a school-wide initiative for the integration and use of technology with classroom instruction, student learning activities, and communications.
  • Supervised the instructional program and supported classroom teachers in classroom management.
  • Designed and facilitated professional development opportunities that challenged and developed staff members and resulted in students test scores increasing.
  • Implemented grade level teams and professional learning communities/job-embedded professional development.

Rank:

Average Salary:

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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)

School Principal Demographics

Gender

Female

46.7%

Male

37.9%

Unknown

15.5%
Ethnicity

White

57.2%

Hispanic or Latino

18.9%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

7.5%

Unknown

4.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

68.2%

French

8.0%

Arabic

4.5%

German

3.4%

Portuguese

2.3%

Russian

2.3%

Filipino

1.1%

Hebrew

1.1%

Dutch

1.1%

Japanese

1.1%

Amharic

1.1%

Dakota

1.1%

Tagalog

1.1%

Mandarin

1.1%

Korean

1.1%

Italian

1.1%
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School Principal Education

Schools

Nova Southeastern University

13.6%

University of Phoenix

13.1%

Walden University

7.7%

George Washington University

6.8%

Texas A&M University

4.5%

George Mason University

4.5%

National Louis University

4.1%

Liberty University

4.1%

Grand Canyon University

4.1%

University of La Verne

3.6%

University of Cincinnati

3.6%

Temple University

3.6%

Lamar University

3.6%

Teachers College of Columbia University

3.6%

Capella University

3.6%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.2%

Arizona State University

3.2%

Miami University

3.2%

University of Houston

3.2%

Columbia University

3.2%
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Majors

Educational Leadership

39.3%

Education

16.7%

Elementary Education

7.7%

Business

7.3%

Special Education

4.3%

School Counseling

3.1%

General Education, Specific Areas

3.0%

English

2.4%

Psychology

2.4%

Management

2.3%

Curriculum And Instruction

2.0%

Theology

1.8%

Early Childhood Education

1.1%

Social Work

1.1%

History

1.0%

Liberal Arts

0.9%

Secondary Education And Teaching

0.9%

Public Administration

0.9%

Political Science

0.9%

Human Resources Management

0.9%
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Degrees

Masters

48.9%

Other

19.0%

Bachelors

12.8%

Doctorate

10.7%

Certificate

4.9%

Associate

1.9%

Diploma

1.0%

License

0.7%
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What is it like to work as a School Principal

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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.

Top School Principal Employers

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Jobs From Top School Principal Employers

School Principal Videos

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