How to Become a School Principal

When you become a school principal, you are responsible for the management of an elementary, middle, or high school and oversee many aspects of school life.

They supervise staff, as well as students, and solve problems when things go wrong, formulate school policies, mission statements, school goals, and also regularly measure progress to see if these goals are being met.

To become a school principal, you’ll need to be passionate about education.

This is a very challenging role that holds a lot of responsibility, and is also a position where you can make a real different to the lives of your students.

Educational Requirements to Become a School Principal

To become a school principal, you’ll need to first become a school teacher by attaining a four year bachelors degree.

Your major or specialization should be within the field you wish to teach, for instance English or science.

During your sophomore year you will be able to choose an educational specialty which will qualify you to teach.

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This specialty includes the teaching methodology as well as supervised practice that is required to start teaching.

In all states you are required to be licensed to work as a school teacher in a public school, however private schools keep their own requirements.

Every state has a different requirement for licensure, and you can view specific state requirements at the NCATE website.

You will need to have several years experience as a teacher to be considered in a role as a principal.

In most cases, a masters or doctorate in education is also required to become a principal.

What many do is work full-time as a teacher, and then study part-time to work towards these postgraduate qualifications.

School Principal Job Description

When you become a school principal, you must oversee a wide range of functions; however the first responsibility you have is the welfare of your students.

A principal must make sure that students have access to a safe environment where they can learn and be their best.

They must also ensure there are adequate support services available.

A school principal also supervises teaching and administrative staff.

They recruit and interview new teachers, and provide training.

They set key performance indicators and regularly review these with staff, and also work to make sure that staff are happy and well looked after.

The school principal is responsible for writing a mission statement for a school, as well as a list of goals.

They work to achieve these goals through planning and designing protocol and policy.

School principals often work overtime, and may work as much as 50 or 60 hours a week.

While there are many tasks around a school that must be attended to, there is also a lot of paperwork that can keep you very busy.

Here are some of the responsibilities of a school principal:

  • Supervising staff
  • Formulating school policies
  • Recruitment and training
  • Health and safety
  • Recording progress of staff
  • Disciplining students

School Principal Salary and Career Path

School principals begin their education career as teachers.

If you want to become a school principal, you should expect to spend many years gaining experience in this role.

Most will be promoted to leading teachers, then assistant principals, before gaining the role of school principal.

The life of a principal is never quiet, they spend their days developing the interest of the school and also solving problems that occur along the way.

Some school principals go on to become heads of educational institutions, while some may move on to be principals at larger institutions.

Most principals stay within this role throughout their careers.

The salary of a school principal ranges from $75,000 to $97,000.

Those in high schools will generally earn more than those working in elementary schools.

The employment of school principals is expected to increase by 8%, which is a consistent level of growth.

Some similar roles to that of school principal include:

  • Educational administrator
  • High school teacher
  • Elementary school teacher
  • Counselors

Working as a school principal is definitely a very challenging role.

You will need to be strong in interpersonal skills as well as in administration.

When you become a school principal, you do have the chance to make a difference to the education of many students, which is the part of the job that many find so rewarding.

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