What’s the Best Degree Path for Becoming a School Principal?

If you possess natural leadership skills and a passion for educating young people but you don’t want to be limited to the classroom setting, work in the field of education administration might be the perfect choice for you. A career in education administration – like the position of school principle at an elementary, middle or high school – is among the top 10 highest paying careers in education. School principals typically earn an annual salary of between $71,192 and $97,486. An advanced college degree is usually required for candidates to be considered for a school principle job. The most common degree path for aspiring school principals is the master’s degree in education administration.

Earning a College Degree

The first step to becoming a school principal is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Only once students have completed their undergraduate work can they begin working toward their master’s degree. Naturally, aspiring school principals often study education during their undergraduate academic careers. If they attend colleges that require education majors to double major, they can use the additional major to build up proficiency in a subject in which they would like to teach. Another option for aspiring school principals is to study school counseling. A school counseling degree program will help you learn to counsel students who are struggling academically, socially, behaviorally or in any other way.

An undergraduate degree program in education will provide you with the skills you need in the classroom, but school principals are also responsible for a lot of other factors relating to the management of their schools, including class schedules, security policies, budgets and managing teachers and other staff members. To develop the skills necessary to meet these responsibilities, candidates must usually enroll in a graduate program in education administration or education leadership. The courses required for these programs will train aspiring school principals to develop the practical abilities they will need, including preparing and managing budgets, setting and meeting goals and interacting with teachers, students and community members.

Training and Licensing

Education is important for aspiring school principals, but it is only half of what it takes to attain this position. Candidates almost always need relevant work education to be hired for school principal jobs. Most school principals have worked as teachers at the level of school at which they later became principals. That means, if you want to be an elementary school principal, you should search for elementary school teaching jobs first to build up your experience working with this age group of students. Additionally, public school principals in many states must obtain licenses to work as school administrators, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

School principal is not an entry-level job, requiring an advanced degree and years of teaching experience. However, for candidates who enjoy managing logistics as much as they love educating young people and want to make a difference, work as a school principal can be personally and financially rewarding.

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris