Careers in School Administration Pay Big
Earnings In May 2006, elementary and secondary school administrators had median annual earnings of $77,740; postsecondary school administrators had median annual earnings of $73,990, while administrators in preschool and childcare centers earned a median of $37,740 per year. Salaries of education administrators depend on several factors, including the location and enrollment level in the school or school district.
According to a survey of public schools, conducted by the Educational Research Service, average salaries for principals and assistant principals in the 2006-07 school year were as follows:
Senior high school $92,965
Jr. high/middle school $87,866
Elementary school $82,414
Senior high school $75,121
Jr. high/middle school $73,020
Elementary school $67,735
Many jobs require a master’s or doctoral degree and experience in a related occupation, such as teaching or admissions counseling.
Strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential because much of an administrator’s job involves working and collaborating with others.
Excellent opportunities are expected since a large proportion of education administrators is expected to retire over the next 10 years.
Benefits for education administrators are generally very good. Many get 4 or 5 weeks of vacation every year and have generous health and pension packages. Many colleges and universities offer free tuition to employees and their families.
Most education administrators begin their careers as teachers and prepare for advancement into education administration by completing a master’s or doctoral degree. Because of the diversity of duties and levels of responsibility, educational backgrounds and experience vary considerably among these workers.
Education and training. Principals, assistant principals, central office administrators, academic deans, and preschool directors usually have held teaching positions before moving into administration. Some teachers move directly into principal positions; others first become assistant principals, or gain experience in other administrative jobs at either the school or district level in positions such as department head, curriculum specialist, or subject matter advisor. In some cases, administrators move up from related staff jobs such as recruiter, school counselor, librarian, residence hall director, or financial aid or admissions counselor.
In most public schools, principals, assistant principals, and school district administrators need a master’s degree in education administration or educational leadership. Some principals and central office administrators have a doctorate or specialized degree in education administration. In private schools, some principals and assistant principals hold only a bachelor’s degree, but the majority have a master’s or doctoral degree.
Advanced degrees in higher education administration, educational leadership, and college student affairs are offered in many colleges and universities. Education administration degree programs include courses in school leadership, school law, school finance and budgeting, curriculum development and evaluation, research design and data analysis, community relations, politics in education, and counseling. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) accredit programs designed for elementary and secondary school administrators. Although completion of an accredited program is not required, it may assist in fulfilling licensure requirements.
Licensure and certification. Most States require principals to be licensed as school administrators. License requirements vary by State, but nearly all States require either a master’s degree or some other graduate-level training. Some States also require candidates for licensure to pass a test. On-the-job training, often with a mentor, is increasingly required or recommended for new school leaders. Some States require administrators to take continuing education courses to keep their license, thus ensuring that administrators have the most up-to-date skills. The number and types of courses required to maintain licensure vary by State. Principals in private schools are not subject to State licensure requirements.
Other qualifications. To be considered for education administrator positions, workers must first prove themselves in their current jobs. In evaluating candidates, supervisors look for leadership, determination, confidence, innovativeness, and motivation. The ability to make sound decisions and to organize and coordinate work efficiently is essential. Because much of an administrator’s job involves interacting with others—such as students, parents, teachers, and the community—a person in such a position must have strong interpersonal skills and be an effective communicator and motivator. Knowledge of leadership principles and practices, gained through work experience and formal education, is important. A familiarity with computer technology is a necessity for principals, who are required to gather information and coordinate technical resources for their students, teachers, and classrooms.
Advancement. Education administrators advance through promotion to higher level administrative positions or by transferring to comparable positions at larger schools or systems. They also may become superintendents of school systems or presidents of educational institutions.
Job Outlook Employment of education administrators is projected to grow about as fast as average, as education and training take on greater importance in everyone’s lives. Job opportunities for many of these positions should be excellent because a large proportion of education administrators are expected to retire over the next 10 years.