The principal is the leader of a school, who sets the tone for how things are done in the school. The principal oversees teachers and staff, helps plan curriculum, and provides students with guidance.
The principal works closely with teachers to make sure that they are well trained and prepared to teach. The principal must make sure that students are safe in school and maintain a safe environment for them. The principal may also be responsible for creating discipline policies or implementing programs to improve student performance.
The role of a principal can vary greatly depending on the size of the school, whether it’s public or private, and what state it’s located in. Some principals may be very hands-on while others focus more on management tasks like hiring staff or overseeing budgets. Principals may have their own administrative staff or work directly with other administrators to oversee their schools’ day-to-day operations.
Principal Job Duties
Principal job duties include the following:
- Overseeing all aspects of school operations including curriculum development and implementation, student activities, and the general environment on campus
- Overseeing all employees to ensure that they meet or exceed performance standards and tasks are completed on time
- Holding staff meetings to identify issues, stress goals and priorities, and encourage teamwork among teachers
- Managing student discipline issues and ensuring that disciplinary procedures are carried out fairly
- Promoting student achievement by creating challenging curricula, fostering student interest in learning, and ensuring high standards of discipline
- Preparing financial reports for the district
- Keeping parents informed about their children’s progress by sending out notices of upcoming events or conferences
- Ensuring that all educational programs meet applicable regulations regarding curriculum, technology, assessment methods, etc.
Principal Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for principals is $98,490. Those earning higher wages tend to work in elementary and secondary schools, and the top earners are making over $152,000 per year.
Demand for principals is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade. As the population grows, more students will need primary education, which will increase the demand for principals.
Principal Job Requirements
The job of a school principal requires an extensive set of skills and talents. In order to succeed in this role, a candidate must possess the following:
Education: A bachelor’s degree is generally required for a position as a school principal, though many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in education or a similar field. This advanced education helps candidates understand administrative and leadership skills and how to work with a large team. They also gain valuable knowledge about special education and curriculum design.
Training: Most candidates receive on-the-job training as they complete their education and earn their credentials. This training often takes place at the district level, where administrators and professors can teach candidates how to work as a leader and manage a group of staff. This training will also allow candidates to hone their critical thinking and decision-making skills.
Once a candidate completes formal training, they begin working with staff and faculty members to provide assistance and guidance. They also attend workshops and conferences focused on improving leadership skills and understanding contemporary issues.
Certifications: Certification is not required to become a school principal, but some schools and organizations offer them as a way to improve a candidate’s credentials. One example of this is the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) National Mentor Training and Certification Program. Many schools also prefer principals to hold a valid teaching license.
Being a principal requires the following skills:
People skills: Principals must be able to relate well to students, teachers, parents, and community members.
Interpersonal skills: Principals must be able to handle difficult situations calmly and effectively. They also need to build and maintain interpersonal relationships.
Problem-solving skills: Principals must be able to quickly analyze and solve problems that arise at school. They should be effective at analyzing situations and identifying solutions. They should also have the ability to think creatively when normal strategies don’t work.
Management skills: Principals must have good management skills. This includes the ability to supervise people and delegate tasks, oversee policies and budgets effectively, and develop and manage projects.
Decision-making skills: Principals must be able to make timely decisions regarding disciplinary action, academic programs, budgeting, and hiring. They must know where to find important information and be aware of rules and regulations.
Communication skills: The ability to communicate effectively with staff and parents is crucial for a principal. Good verbal and written communication helps keep everyone informed about important issues affecting the school.
Principal Work Environment
A principal’s job is demanding and stressful. A principal has to deal with a lot of issues such as student discipline problems and poor teacher performance. They may have to make difficult decisions, which could affect their relationships with students or teachers. Principals also supervise all school activities — no easy task.
The hours of most principals are long. A typical work week is spent in the school building, where they may be involved in meetings with teachers and students. The job can sometimes be stressful depending on the circumstances at the school. For example, if there aren’t enough staff members to handle disciplinary issues, particularly in cases involving fights among students, it would be the responsibility of the principal to handle this.
Principal Career Advancement
If you’re a qualified and dedicated principal, you can look forward to a number of opportunities to advance in your career. Some principals move into regional or state administrative roles. These positions look for people with a proven track record of success in the classroom and the ability to manage large teams of teachers and staff. Many principals eventually get promoted to the role of assistant superintendent or superintendent of a bigger school district.
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.
Increasing Importance of Collaboration
In order to foster a successful environment for learning, principals must embrace new ways of collaborating with parents and other school stakeholders.
With an increasing focus on college and career readiness in schools, as well as a greater emphasis on standardized testing, collaboration is critical to establishing a culture that fosters success among students and teachers alike.
Increased Use of Cloud-Based Services
Cloud computing has revolutionized the way in which schools store and access their data, enabling educators to share information with parents, students, and other stakeholders.
This trend is likely to continue in the coming years as more schools rely on cloud-based storage services to securely store student data while simultaneously allowing staff members to access this information from anywhere at any time.
Increased Demand for Evidence-Based Practice
As schools and educators work to develop best practices, evidence-based strategies are becoming increasingly important.
For example, data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that there has been a marked increase in the number of educators who have used formative assessments to monitor student progress throughout the year, which can be used to create more personalized learning plans for students.
How to Become a Principal
1. Planning Your Career Path
If you’re interested in becoming a principal, it’s important to make sure that you have the required educational background for the position. Most principals are required to hold at least a master’s degree in education. Before pursuing this career, take some time to think about your long-term goals and whether or not this is the right fit for you. If you are dedicated to the idea of being a principal, there are several ways to prepare yourself.
Start working toward a graduate degree in education so that you can differentiate yourself from other candidates. Also, consider getting involved with leadership roles within your school district or state association. This is a great way to network with other professionals who may be able to help open doors for you down the road.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for principals should focus on their leadership abilities and strong communication skills. You can achieve this through a combination of your experience, education, and personal achievements.
If you have any special certifications or training that could be relevant to the position, list these as well. Include any professional development courses that you have taken part in over the years as well as any awards or accolades received for outstanding achievement in education or business management.
3. Applying for Jobs
To become a principal, you should begin by getting involved in your school community. Join committees and leadership groups, get to know faculty and staff, and attend workshops and conferences to make connections in the field.
If you don’t want to teach in a traditional school setting, there are plenty of other career paths that involve managing teams of people. In this case, the main idea is to show off your abilities to lead, inspire, and motivate others. You can do this by starting your own nonprofit or community organization, leading a local committee, or volunteering at a charity event.
4. Ace the Interview
If you’re interviewing for a principal role, it’s best to be prepared to discuss your career development and career aspirations. Why do you want to be a principal? What are you looking for in a role as a school leader?
You may also be asked about your views on the school’s current direction and how you would move it forward. Do not make any major criticisms or proposals right off the bat. Instead, highlight the strengths of the school and what you admire about it. Then reflect on your education, experiences, and skills that can help move the school forward in a positive direction.
If you’re interviewing for a principal position at a charter or private school, you’ll also want to craft an answer to questions about your background that reflects your understanding of the mission of those institutions. If the school is a charter, talk about how you know how important it is to offer students a well-rounded education within a challenging environment with high expectations. If it’s private, discuss the importance of instilling strong values in students while also teaching them critical thinking skills so they can thrive in today’s competitive economy.
When it comes time for your interview, dress formally and arrive promptly. While it’s important to be friendly, don’t forget that you’re also applying for a job. Be direct and professional in your answers and stay focused on the topics at hand.