If you want a career that would allow you to run the operations of an entire school then a career as a school principal could be in your future. In this profession, you will be in charge of an elementary, middle or high school. You are on top of every aspect of school operations, from managing daily activities to addressing student behavior to evaluating teachers to ensuring that the school’s budget is well-managed.
As the principal, you will be putting up academic goals and seeing to it that the teachers will be able to meet them. To help your teachers do this, it is part of your responsibility to provide them with the necessary support and resources they will need. In addition to giving them with the equipment and tools to achieve these goals, it is also part of your responsibility to organize programs, seminars and workshops that will enhance the professional development of your teachers. To determine whether your teachers are doing their job as they should, it is also your task to evaluate their performance.
When it comes to student behavior, you are also expected to counsel students and discipline them, especially if the teacher cannot anymore address the behavior himself or herself. You also help teachers, giving them guidelines on how to manage difficult students. You also meet with teachers and parents to talk about the academic progress and behavior of a particular child.
Public school principals see to it that the rules, regulations and standards put forth by the federal and state governments and the school district are implemented. This includes evaluating the student achievement data of your students and preparing reports about them. If it is necessary to put up additional programs to improve the academic performance of your students after your evaluation then you can do so.
When it comes to matters about funding, you are the school’s representative. You talk to superintendents, lawmakers and other organizations to request for funding and explain to them why your school needs it. If there are concerns that the parents and the community have raised about the school or the safety of their children, it is also your responsibility to answer those concerns.
To become an effective principal, you need to possess critical thinking and decision making skills. You will look at the weak points of your students based on their performance in national tests and determining what interventions you can give to improve these. You need to have the ability to make clear and rational decisions. For example, it’s your call to suspend classes in the event of an impending storm but you have to take into consideration if all students will be able to get home safely afterwards. Naturally, you need to be a leader so you can encourage teachers, staff and students to follow you. You also need to have excellent communication skills since you will be talking with parents, teachers, students, lawmakers and other members of the community on a regular basis. You also need to have the ability to solve problems reported to you by other members of the school community.
Why Become A School Principal
A career as a school principal is a position of advancement for many teachers. Striving to become one is a lofty goal because it puts you in a position of leadership. You will be responsible for the education and development of the students under your watch. This kind of challenge is satisfying and fulfilling for those who want more than just a teaching career.
On the more practical side of things, a career as a school principal also pays quite handsomely. It also paves the way for more positions of advancement, such as that of a superintendent.
School Principal Work Environment
School principals work in elementary, middle and high schools in the public and private sectors. Others head public magnet and charter schools, private religious and secular schools. The work is very demanding because they are held to answer for poor student performance. They have to ensure that their teachers deliver or else they will have to explain why the school has not met the standards set by the federal government.
Even if teachers have the opportunity to take summers off, principals don’t. When school is out, they have to get the school ready for the next school year. They see to it that buildings are repaired and school supplies are replenished. If there is a need to, they use summers to hire additional teachers and staff.
School Principal Salary
The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages Report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of education administrators in general is $88,780. School principals heading elementary and secondary schools received higher pay with a mean annual wage of $90,670. The agency reported in 2012 that the highest paid school principals earned over $130,810 while the lowest paid earned less than $58,530.
School Principal Career Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the employment of school principals is forecasted to increase only six percent. This rate is slower than the average for all job types. The driver for growth will be increasing number of enrollees in school. The employment of principals will still be dependent on the budgets of state and local governments. If there are deficits, new schools may not be constructed which would also derail the employment of principals. The best opportunities for school principals are in schools located in the Southern and Western portions of the United States where enrollment is forecasted to grow faster.
School Principal Degree
To become a school principal, one must hold a master’s degree in education administration or education leadership. Before aspiring principals can enter the program, they must have a bachelor’s degree in education, school counseling or similar fields. In addition to educational qualifications, aspiring school principals should have teaching experience.
Before one can work as a school principal, one should obtain a license as a school administrator. Each state has different requirements but the most common ones include a master’s degree, the passing of an exam and passing a background check. They may have to work with a mentor in some states. To maintain their license, they often have to take continuing education classes. School principals working for private schools don’t need a license that is issued by the state.