How Do I Become A Public School Administrator?

"My goal is to become an administrator in the public school system. I’m not sure which position I am best suited for. What are the career options in education administration? What is the best educational path to follow in order to become an administrator?"

asked by Sarah from Johnstown, PA

Administrators are an integral part of a well-run school- they are the leaders. In fact some school districts have renamed administrators School Building Leaders. Administrators include assistant principals and principals in elementary, middle and high schools. The average assistant principal salary is $60,000 a year while the average principal salary is $135,000. In order to become an administrator you need a college degree, licensing and experience in the field of education.

The first step in becoming an administrator is to get a bachelor’s degree in education along with a teaching license. A master’s degree is also required. Administrators usually have a master’s degree in education administration although there are other master’s degrees that can qualify you to become a school principal including School Leadership. Graduate programs prepare individuals to handle the myriad responsibilities involved with being a principal including managing teacher and staff, overseeing budgets, setting goals and interacting with students and the community.

Some people don’t decide to become administrators until having taught in a classroom for a period of time. In that case further education is needed before pursuing a position. Other people know they want to become administrators right from the start. Those individuals need to get classroom experience and provisional certification before applying for positions.

Each state has its own licensing procedures. An administrator generally begins with an initial license that allows him or her to work as an assistant principal or principal. There are master’s degree plus initial administrator license programs that combine the two. If you already have a master’s degree then there are separate initial administrator license programs that take one year to complete. You must pass an initial licensing exam and have three years of classroom experience to get the initial license. It would be impossible to lead teachers effectively without experience in the classroom.

To get a permanent license you usually need to serve as a school administrator for a minimum of three years. There are additional requirements based on the state where you work. For example, administrators in Massachusetts must work with a mentor for one year as part of the licensing application process. Once you get a license you must take classes on a regular basis in order to get it renewed. These classes are meant to improve your effectiveness as a school leader.

If you are trying to decide whether you have the right personality to be a school leader then you need to answer the following:

Becoming a school administrator takes time because you need to have so many important skills to lead effectively. Once you have experience in administration you can decide whether to become a school superintendent, managing all of the principals in a school district. Administrators must build successful schools in their communities, which is a big responsibility.

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