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Principal

Job Description

Principals set the academic tone and hire, evaluate, and help improve the skills of teachers and other staff. Principals confer with staff to advise, explain, or answer procedural questions. They visit classrooms, observe teaching methods, review instructional objectives, and examine learning materials. They actively work with teachers to develop and maintain high curriculum standards, develop mission statements, and set performance goals and objectives. Principals must use clear, objective guidelines for teacher appraisals, because pay often is based on performance ratings.

Principals also meet and interact with other administrators, students, parents, and representatives of community organizations. Decision-making authority has increasingly shifted from school district central offices to individual schools. School principals have greater flexibility in setting school policies and goals, but when making administrative decisions they must pay attention to the concerns of parents, teachers, and other members of the community.

Principals prepare budgets and reports on various subjects, including finances and attendance, and oversee the requisition and allocation of supplies. As school budgets become tighter, many principals have become more involved in public relations and fundraising to secure financial support for their schools from local businesses and the community.

Principals must take an active role to ensure that students meet national, State, and local academic standards. Many principals develop school/business partnerships and school-to-work transition programs for students. Increasingly, principals must be sensitive to the needs of the rising number of non-English speaking and culturally diverse students. In some areas growing enrollments also are a cause for concern because they are leading to overcrowding at many schools. When addressing problems of inadequate resources, administrators serve as advocates for the building of new schools or the repair of existing ones. During summer months, principals are responsible for planning for the upcoming year, overseeing summer school, participating in workshops for teachers and administrators, supervising building repairs and improvements, and working to be sure the school has adequate staff for the school year.

Median Annual Salary

$72,000

Education Requirements

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. 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. Increasingly, on-the-job training, often with a mentor, is 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. In private schools, which are not subject to State licensure requirements, some principals and assistant principals hold only a bachelor’s degree, but the majority have a master’s or doctoral degree. Connect with degree programs for principals now.

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