How to Become an Elementary, Middle or High School Principal in the US


School principals have similar roles to managing directors in an organization. They have a multi-faceted role, which requires a unique set of skills and talents. To be a competent elementary, middle or high school principal, you need to know what is required of you, the challenges that come with the job and its benefits.

What Does the School Principal Do?

A school principal is entrusted with numerous responsibilities such as:

  • Establishing the academic, disciplinary and ethical standards and policies of the school.
  • Overseeing the implementation of these standards.
  • Coordinating the school’s instructional program and supervising teachers to ensure they are fulfilling their teaching roles effectively.
  • Hiring and managing the non-teaching staff as they conduct their duties
  • Ensuring the school has the necessary resources, equipment and facilities needed.
  • Monitoring the school’s academic performance and taking whichever steps are necessary including implementing reform initiatives to improve on it.
  • Organizing and spearheading meetings with parents
  • Managing the school’s finances and accounting for all budgetary issues to both the school superintendent and the parents.
  • Motivating the staff and students towards achieving the school’s objectives.
  • Giving and receiving feedback on student performance, discipline, school safety and any other concern 


Earning depends on various factors such as geographical location, school, experience and whether the institution is public or private.

Entry Level

$58, 600

Mid Career

$87, 470


$128, 660



You will be able to perform your duties competently if you have the necessary qualifications.

The qualifications include:  

  • A Bachelor’s degree in education. This degree is a basic requirement for teachers of all levels
  • A Master’s degree in educational administration or leadership. Principals are administrators and need managerial skills.
  •          A license from the State Board for Educator Certification especially for public schools depending on the state in which they wish to work as a principal.
  •          A training course to prepare them to teach in some states where there is no mandatory undergraduate Bachelor’s degree in education required.

 Skills and Knowledge

20 percent discount
20 percent discount

Principals need excellent leadership abilities to enable them to influence and motivate staff and students. For instance, they should be:

  • Astute managers, who can multi-task, pay keen attention to detail and report to various audiences.
  •  Good at building and maintaining positive relationships within the school.
  •  Excellent at problem-solving, creative thinking, inter-personal and decision-making.
  •  Resilient and should have the capacity to follow through on long-term objectives.

 Career Growth and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the job outlook for principals is projected to grow at a slower than average rate of 6% between 2012 and 2022. Therefore, there will be fewer opportunities for principals as compared to other professions. This situation could be because of the dramatic changes in the rules, which increasingly require principals to be personally accountable for student learning and performance in their schools.

In spite of the ostensibly bleak job outlook, you may consider taking up this career path if you are passionate about student instruction, are driven to inspire change at the foundational academic level and you do not mind working long hours, even during the holidays.




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