School Principal

Are you a natural leader and have a passion to educate? You should consider becoming a school principal.

Principals of schools are responsible for overseeing the school’s day-to-day operations and dealing with disruptive students. They are leaders in times of crisis, and they have optimistic visions for the future.

It’s not easy to become a school principal. Because it is a highly-paid, prestigious job, you will be competing for the position. It’s an excellent career choice if you are ambitious and believe strongly in education.

This guide will help you understand the requirements to become a school administrator, as well as how to get there, what your salary is, how to look at it professionally, and the advantages and disadvantages to this career. You can read the entire guide or click these links to jump directly to a particular destination.

A quick overview: School principals

Principal of a public school Principal of a private school
(or headmaster)
Minimum education Master’s Master’s
Annual income $90,410 (BLS)
$85,868 (
$99,487 (
$100,438 (
$90,410 (BLS)
$57,500 (National Center for Education Statistics)
$33,150 (

Principal of school

You are the school’s face as the principal. As the principal, you will lead staff and teachers, establish goals and ensure that students achieve their learning objectives. You will be responsible for overseeing the school’s day to day operations, including disciplinary matters and budget management.

School principals are responsible for logistics, staff evaluations, teacher and staff evaluations, public relations, and schedules. You will also have to plan Back to School Night, college admissions/jobs fairs, and other events. Most likely, you will have one or more assistant principals or auxiliary clerical employees.

Principals typically work in the main school building. Principals are not restricted to their office. They often attend school assemblies, sit in on classes and represent their school at local and regional conferences.

The superintendent is often accompanied by principals who travel to the administrative offices of the school district. Your immediate superior is the district superintendent. You will be required to submit reports, documents, and other findings regarding the management and success at your school on an ongoing basis.

The principals of schools must ensure that they adhere to all regulations, whether those are local, state or federal. Everyone who works in a school, including teachers, academic advisors, and custodial workers reports to the school principal.

Who is a good principal for a school?

Someone who is:

  • Comfortable in assuming a leadership role
  • Capable to see the bigger picture
  • Service orientation
  • Excellent at organizing and planning
  • Sociable and empathic
  • Highly diplomatic
  • Expert in problem identification and brainstorming possible solutions
  • Excellent in oral and written communication, as well as presentation
  • Passionate about connecting to students and teachers
  • Qualified with a master’s degree (typically in an education or leadership/management related subject)

There are many types of school principals

Let’s look at different types of school principals so that you can begin to consider which type of school you want to run.

Principals of public schools

Principals of public schools lead elementary, middle, and high schools that are financially supported by the government and offer free education to children living in a defined geographic area (usually called a district).

Principals of private schools

Principals of private schools are those who manage elementary, middle, and high schools that have not been affiliated with any government agency. Headmasters can be used to describe private school principals.

For school principals, professional development

The school’s principal is the highest job in its administrative hierarchy. You may need to have worked for many years in various jobs before you can be appointed principal. To be considered for the principal position, you will need to perform consistently well in your job.

Principals are often teachers at the beginning. If you are interested in becoming a principal school, it is a good idea to pursue a career teaching a subject that you are passionate about.

For the chance to eventually move into an academic administration role, you might be able to become a principal of a school. There won’t be much time to do on-the-job training so it is important to get as much knowledge as you can about school operations, communication with parents, and staff before becoming a principal.

Also, you should seriously consider pursuing an advanced degree in education or leadership and management. A graduate degree will boost your career, increase your earning potential, and enable you to jumpfrog the competition to become principal of a school in years ahead of others.

Internships and other opportunities for education-related degrees are available.

After you have been appointed school principal, it is a good idea to join a professional association. This will give you access to training and networking, as well as conferences. These organizations will vary depending on which school you are leading.

  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • National Association of State Administrators and Supervisors of Private Schools, NASASPS

What programs are available to school principals?

Graduate education programs such as the Master of Education or Doctorate of Education help students develop executive leadership skills such as critical thinking and creative problem solving. Communication and collaboration are key components of coursework. Students learn how to embrace complexity, innovation, imagination, and invention.

Principals of schools may also be interested in other jobs

School principals can be qualified for many educational positions in the private and public sectors by obtaining additional education or certification.

Teacher School principals can become teachers easily if they have the right credentials and a strong education background in the subject area they are teaching. While a bachelor’s degree is necessary, a master’s degree is preferred. Teachers are typically appointed principals. However, principals may choose to return to teaching occasionally.

Librarian: Generally, a master’s degree is required in library science (MLS). Some states require librarians to pass a standard test.

Instructional Coordinator: In order to be an instructional coordinator, they will need to have a master’s in a subject such as curriculum and instruction. They may also require a teaching license or school principal license.

You can become an academic advisor at the college/university or private level by obtaining a master’s degree.

Professor School principals may become professors after obtaining a doctorate in their area of research and teaching.

Education consultant School principals may become education consultants to address challenges in a variety of schools and education system types.

Education Policy Analyst School principals may become policy analysts to examine the big picture issues that affect education in America.

Higher education administrator School principals may work in higher education institutions if they have connections with college/university administrators. A master’s or doctorate degree in educational leadership might be necessary for a position at the highest level, such as president or dean.

The best of the internet: Our favorite principal blogs, websites, and Twitter handles

It’s easy to keep in touch with prominent school principals via the internet. Below is a list with links to our top Twitter accounts and websites, in no particular order.

Blogs and websites of your favorite school principals

Followers of the principal school you love on Twitter