CHOOSING A CAREER / DEC. 04, 2014
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How to Become a Superintendent of Public Instruction in the US

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Superintendents of public instruction work to improve the quality of primary and secondary education offered in the US. They sit in the state boards of education and oversee the activities of public elementary and secondary schools in a given state. If you possess excellent leadership skills, a teaching background and an interest in shaping the future students, you can qualify for this job.

What Do Superintendents of Public Instruction Do?

The duties of these superintendents vary from state to state. However, the following list highlights some of the duties that you can expect to undertake:

  • Supervising the provision of public transportation services – this involves maintaining contact of directors of public transportation in various school districts
  • Communicating policies adopted by the state’s education board to school districts and advising on how to implement them
  • Organizing conferences where parents and the larger community can interact with teachers
  • Overseeing the provision of instruction to students with special needs
  • Giving technical assistance to school principals and other education administrators
  • Monitoring how schools spend public funds – This involves requesting auditors to conduct investigations from school to school.

Work Environment

Superintendents of public instruction typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Although these professionals spend their time in an office environment, they often travel to attend meetings and educational conferences.

Salary

Which are the top-paying states for superintendents of public instruction? Find out below:

State

Annual Salary

Louisiana

$341, 458

Mississippi

$307,125

Florida

$275,000

Kentucky

$225,00

Arkansas

$224,400

Source: Washington Citizen’s Commission

Education and Professional Experience

The employment requirements for superintendents of public instruction also vary by state. If you live in Idaho, Arizona or Indiana, for example, you will go through an election process. In several other states, the governor has the authority to appoint the superintendent of public instruction.

Regardless of the mode of entry, you must be a well-educated professional, preferably with a background that is deeply rooted in education administration or teaching.

As such, you should begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in education. The next step is to earn a teaching certificate and start practicing as a teacher. This enables you to gain hands-on experience working with students.

You can then pursue a master’s degree in education administration and leadership or public administration and wait for a vacancy to arise. With this credential, you can become a school principal and gain the experience required of potential superintendents of public instruction.

If you must go through an election, it is important to lobby for your candidature among voters. If the position is appointed, focus on developing professional networks with the governor and other top state leaders.

Important Qualities

To do the duties of a superintendent of public instruction competently, you should have:

  • Strong leadership skills
  • Strong problem-solving skills – the job involves finding solutions to various educational issues
  • An intricate understanding of the national and local educational policies
  • Good teamwork skills
  • Good skills in personnel and financial management
  • Good analytical and communication skills
  • An interest in improving education standards.

Career Development

As a superintendent of public instruction, you have the potential to move into senior positions within a state’s educational set-up. Here is what you should do to improve your advancement prospects:

  • Gain vast work experience- Be sure to put more effort into improving the state’s education standards
  • Complete a graduate certificate program in education leadership
  • Earn a doctorate in education administration

After earning these qualifications, you can be hired as an education policy analyst. If you are competent enough, you could be nominated to serve as the state’s education secretary!

Job Prospects

Each state has only one superintendent of public instruction. This means aspiring superintendents should expect to face fierce competition when a vacancy occurs.

Finally, this position is not for the impatient. Apart from having a deep desire to improve the quality of education elementary and secondary students receive, you should have the determination and drive to chase this job.

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