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

Do you have natural leadership skills and a passion for educating young people?  But maybe you don’t want to be limited to the classroom setting. The field of education administration might be the perfect choice for you. A career in education administration includes positions like school principle at an:

  • elementary school
  • middle school
  • high school

It’s 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. When you’ve completed your undergraduate work, you can begin working toward your master’s degree. Naturally, aspiring school principals often study education during their undergraduate academic careers.

If you attend a college that requires education majors to double major, you can use the additional major to build up proficiency in a subject you’d 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
  • other problems

An undergraduate degree program in education will provide you with the skills you need in the classroom. School principals are also responsible for a lot of other factors relating to the management of their schools, including:

  • class schedules
  • security policies
  • budgets
  • managing teachers and other staff members

To develop the skills necessary to meet these responsibilities, you 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. These include:

  • preparing and managing budgets
  • setting and meeting goals
  • interacting with teachers, students and community members

Training and Licensing

Education is important for aspiring school principals, but it’s only half of what it takes to attain this position. You 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 where 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. It requires an advanced degree and years of teaching experience. Do you enjoy managing logistics? Do you love educating young people?  A career as a school principal can be personally and financially rewarding. And you’ll be making a difference in student’s lives.

Brenda Rufener
Author

Julie McCaulley
Expert

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief