School principals supervise all students and personnel from janitors to clerical staff to teachers, as well as bearing responsibility for policies, procedures and the school’s safety and security. They are, however, at the heart of our education system. Read about what it takes to serve as a school principal, the duties and responsibilities you’ll face in this job, and how to enter this fulfilling career.
Find schools and get information on the program that’s
right for you.
(It’s fast and free!)
What Is a School Principal?
The school principal is the primary administrator in charge of all day-to-day operations of a given school, including policies, procedures, safety, security and the overall mission and vision of the institution. They manage all students and staff, including janitors, teachers, special educators, counselors, administrative staff, security officers and others. They monitor visitors, take meetings with school board officials, teachers, staff members, students and parents as needed.
The principal holds a major role in employing staff and teachers to work in their school. They ensure that the overall operations of the institution are smooth and are conducive to an excellent learning environment. They make decisions regarding policies, curricula, classroom technology and staffing needs.
Principals deal with a range of issues including staff problems, students who deal with emotional trauma, substance abuse, learning disabilities and behavioral problems, parents who are concerned with their children’s performance, dissatisfied public groups and board officials and outside consultants to improve educational offerings.
What Skills Does a Principal Need?
Most principals are experienced educators who have spent time teaching in the trenches, and they have a solid grasp on what it takes to run a school. They are administrators, leaders, teachers, coaches, mentors and disciplinarians all at the same time. This requires outstanding collaborative and communications skills.
Principals must have knowledge about the subjects taught in their schools and the best means to deliver these subjects. They must be able to plan and strategize for curricula and establish a mission, vision and goals for their school in conjunction with the overall vision set by the school board. They are some of the most educated and experienced officials in any school district and can serve at the preschool, elementary, middle or high school level.
The job requires confidence, cooperative skills, interpersonal skills, attention to detail, organization, public speaking, critical thinking and analysis and ongoing education in the current research, technology and best practices in the field.
How to Become a School Principal
The first step in becoming a school principal is to become a teacher. To do this, you’ll need to follow your state’s pathway to certification and licensure. While becoming a teacher can often be done with a bachelor’s degree, if you’re looking to become a principal you should consider at minimum a master’s degree in education, and strongly think about pursuing a doctorate.
You’ll then need to build up the skills and experience to become a principal, which can take a decade or more. You’ll need a deep commitment to your career path, but in the end it will be worth it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains that on average principals make around $90,410 annually, and the job is expected to have average growth through 2024.
Read over our website to find out how you can get certified as a teacher to start on your path to school administration today.