Career Development

What Does a Principal Do?

Find out what a principal does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a principal.

Principals are the top-level administrators in schools, districts and other educational institutions. They oversee all aspects of their school’s operations, including curriculum development, teacher hiring and firing, student discipline, etc. Principals are also responsible for ensuring that students receive a quality education while they’re enrolled at their school.

Principal Job Duties

A principal typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Establishing policies, procedures, and rules of conduct for students and staff members
  • Monitoring academic performance and student behavior to ensure that academic goals are being met and discipline problems are being addressed
  • Providing academic leadership by implementing new programs and initiatives to improve student achievement and school performance
  • Determining staffing needs based on enrollment projections, hiring teachers and other staff members, and establishing working schedules
  • Overseeing school operations such as facilities maintenance, curriculum development, and teacher hiring
  • Coordinating activities with parents and community members to promote school spirit and parent involvement
  • Developing a strategic plan for improving student achievement at the school level
  • Working with teachers to develop lesson plans and evaluate student progress
  • Overseeing the school budget and fundraising efforts

Principal Salary & Outlook

The salary of a principal can vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and location of the school. Principals may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $95,000 ($45.67/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $182,000 ($87.5/hour)

The employment of principals is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Schools will need to hire more administrators to oversee the implementation of new state and federal policies, such as the Common Core State Standards and the Every Student Succeeds Act. In addition, schools will need to hire more administrators to help improve student achievement and school performance.

Principal Job Requirements

A principal typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most principals are required to have a master’s degree in education or a related field. Some principals choose to earn a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) to gain additional skills and knowledge. An MBA can also be useful if you plan to move into a superintendent or other administrative role.

Training & Experience: Many principals will receive on-the-job training in their new role. This training may include shadowing the current principal or another administrator in the school. It may also include working with a mentor who is a current principal.

Certifications & Licenses: For certification and licensure, principals are expected to have a teaching license and relevant teaching experience. They can also earn certifications to gain additional knowledge about a specific subject they plan to teach.

Principal Skills

Principals need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information to others. As a principal, you must be able to communicate effectively with teachers, students, parents, school board members and other stakeholders. You must also be able to communicate effectively with the public, as you may be the face of the school and the person who speaks to the media in the event of an emergency.

Leadership: Leadership is the ability to motivate and inspire others to work together toward a common goal. Principals are expected to lead their school’s faculty and staff, as well as the students. They must be able to delegate tasks, delegate responsibilities and provide guidance and support to their staff and students.

Problem-solving: Problem-solving skills allow a principal to identify issues, develop solutions and implement them. As a school leader, you might be responsible for resolving issues with students, faculty members, parents and the school board. Having strong problem-solving skills can help you find solutions quickly and efficiently.

Time management: Time management is the ability to plan and execute tasks within a set time frame. As a principal, you may have many responsibilities, including overseeing the school’s budget, managing staff and overseeing the school’s curriculum. Having strong time management skills can help you prioritize your tasks and complete them in a timely manner.

Organization: As a principal, you must be able to manage a large workload and prioritize tasks. Organization skills allow you to keep track of student information, paperwork and other records. Organization skills can also help you delegate tasks to other staff members and keep your school running smoothly.

Principal Work Environment

The work environment for principals is usually an office in the school, although they may also have an office at the district level. They typically work long hours, including evenings and weekends, and are on call 24 hours a day. The job is often stressful, as principals must deal with the challenges of running a school, such as budgeting, personnel issues, student discipline, and parent and community relations. In addition, principals must be able to handle crisis situations, such as fires, fights, and natural disasters.

Principal Trends

Here are three trends influencing how principals work. Principals will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Rise of the Digital Economy

The digital economy is growing rapidly, and this is having a significant impact on the way businesses operate.

As more and more business is done online, principals will need to adapt their strategies to take advantage of the opportunities that are available. This includes developing a strong digital presence, using social media to connect with customers, and using technology to improve efficiency.

Education Reform

Education reform is a trend that is seeing increasing attention from both policymakers and the public. This is due to the realization that current education systems are not meeting the needs of students in today’s world.

As a result, principals will need to be prepared to implement new reforms in their schools. They will also need to be able to communicate the benefits of these reforms to parents and community members. In addition, principals will need to be familiar with new technologies that can help them track student progress and assess achievement.

More Focus on Student Well-Being

There has been a recent shift in focus towards student well-being in schools across the country. Principals are now being held accountable for ensuring that students are receiving the support they need to be successful.

This trend means that principals will need to be aware of the resources available in their schools and how to access them. They will also need to be able to identify signs of distress in students and know how to intervene before it becomes too late.

How to Become a Principal

A career as a principal can be rewarding and fulfilling. It offers the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students, teachers, and staff members. However, it’s important to consider all aspects of this career before embarking on it.

One of the most important things to consider is whether you have the right personality for this job. As a principal, you will need to be able to handle many different tasks simultaneously. You will also need to be able to work well with people from all walks of life. Additionally, you will need to be able to lead and motivate others. If you feel that you have the necessary skills and abilities to be a successful principal, then go for it!

Related: How to Write a Principal Resume

Advancement Prospects

Principals typically have several years of teaching experience before they are promoted to an administrative position. Some states require that principals have a master’s degree in education administration or leadership. Many principals also complete coursework related to educational administration as part of their continuing education.

As principals gain experience, they may move into larger schools or districts, or take on additional responsibilities such as serving as a district-level administrator. Some principals return to the classroom after a few years in administration, while others move into private industry or non-profit organizations that focus on education.

Principal Job Description Example

The Principal is the instructional leader of the school who is responsible for promoting the educational development of all students. The Principal provides educational leadership in accordance with state and federal laws, as well as the rules and regulations of the [School District]. The Principal is responsible for the development and implementation of the school’s instructional program, professional development of staff, and the management of the school’s operations and resources. The Principal is also responsible for creating a safe and positive learning environment for all students.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • To lead and manage the school in accordance with its aims, policies and procedures
  • To be responsible for the educational progress and achievement of every student in the school
  • To ensure that the curriculum is appropriate and is being delivered effectively
  • To monitor and evaluate the quality of teaching and learning in the school
  • To manage the performance of all staff in the school
  • To be a role model for the staff and students in the school
  • To develop and maintain good relationships with parents, carers and the wider community
  • To be responsible for the financial management of the school
  • To ensure the health and safety of everyone in the school
  • To be responsible for the maintenance and development of the school buildings and grounds
  • To promote the ethos, values and aims of the school
  • To undertake such other duties as may be reasonably required from time to time

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in education or related field
  • Valid state teaching certification
  • 10+ years of successful teaching experience
  • Demonstrated leadership ability
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills
  • Commitment to professional development

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Doctorate degree in education or related field
  • 15+ years of successful teaching experience
  • Principal certification
  • Significant experience leading and managing a school
  • In-depth knowledge of current educational trends and best practices

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