How to Become a School Principal

School principals at elementary, middle and high schools oversee the day-to-day functions of a school. They set goals for the school and monitor progress toward those goals. Their role in the school district is ongoing, and many even work in the summer when school is out.

What They Doschool principal

Principals are essentially the head of staff at a school. They are responsible for supervising teachers and other staff, monitoring teacher behavior and evaluating their effectiveness, as well as developing programs and mentorships for teachers who wish to improve their skills.

Principals are also the highest authority for students in a school. They oversee disciplinary actions, meet with parents to discuss student behavior and academic progress, and ensure the safety of students in the school.

In addition to the work principals conduct with staff and students, they also serve as the administrative point person for their school. They review student test scores, asses the school’s progress toward benchmarks, manage the school’s budget and advocate on behalf of the school to obtain federal funding and other support.

Earning the Title

Public schools require that principals hold a master’s degree in education leadership or education administration. Typically, principals work as teachers prior to entering a master’s program or receiving a promotion. Getting your online masters degree in education is easier while you work to gain experience. Principals in most states must also hold a school administrator license. Working with a mentor may be required, as well. Some states feature alternative certification programs for applicants who have sufficient work experience but lack formal education or training.

Private schools often do not impose the same restrictions on teachers and principals as state-funded public schools. However, regardless of the system in which a principal works, they are expected to possess above-average communication, critical thinking, decision making, problem solving and people skills.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment growth for school principals will grow about as fast as average at a rate of 10 percent over the next decade. Overall, student enrollment is expected to grow over this time; however, growth will not be even across the nation. Enrollment is expected to grow fastest in the South and the West.

The median salary for school principals in May 2010, the most current data offered by BLS, was $86,970.

Education Careers

An online degree in education translates into a rewarding career in education where passionate teachers and administrators can shape the future of our nation. Graduates of our online education programs go on to find careers as:

  • Content teachers
  • Instructional coordinators
  • Adult literacy educators
  • Special education teachers
  • School principal