Becoming an education administrator is a natural next step for many teachers who would like to advance in the field of education. School principals are responsible for managing the staff and operations of their schools. They oversee the day to day issues that come up with teachers, students, parents, finances, rules and discipline at schools from the K-12 levels.
Nearly all school principal positions will require a higher degree than a Bachelor’s. Either a Masters or PhD in education, education administration or a related field is the norm for most principals. This ensures that principals have the necessary skills in curriculum development, education legal issues, staff management and a variety of school related management tasks. Principals will need to be able to work well with a variety of individuals both within and without the school as well as having good organizational and management skills.
Unlike most teacher positions, principals work year round to manage the planning, coordination and development of both the academic and administrative activities of their schools. Principals are responsible for setting the standards for academic study, establishing rules and policies, managing a budget, hiring new staff members, meeting with parents and students and creating long term goals and ambitions for their schools. Principals will often be required to have a significant amount of background in teaching, and most will have worked their way up as teachers before getting hired on as administrators. This experience allows principals to gain a better understanding of the intricacies of planning curriculum, dealing with students and the day to day realities of teaching.
The most successful school principals will be equipped with a number of key skills and personality traits. Good management and communication skills are essential and organizational skills that allow them to be more productive and efficient are an asset as well. Principals should enjoy working with children and teachers and have an overall love of education and a drive to ensure all students get the best education possible.
Students hoping to pursue this career path will find that there is a substantial demand for educational administrators that is estimated to only grow in the coming years. Salaries for school principals vary widely by location and the type of school being administered. Generally, principals working at the high school level make slightly more than those working in elementary schools. The same can be said for private schools versus public schools. The biggest determining factor in salary, however, is the location and size of the school.
While school administration is generally not a field that most students will be able to enter into fresh out of undergraduate school, it is a great goal for those who have completed their master’s or doctoral degrees and who want to see the educational system from a different perspective.