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Interested in becoming a principal?

Principals perform a variety of administrative tasks. Those who work at the elementary, middle and high school levels generally oversee school operations and aid in teacher development. Schools with a smaller teaching staff may also require the principal to act as the dean and oversee student discipline and development. Principals aim to maintain a healthy and safe learning environment. Principals often work year-round and sit in on board meetings in charter and private schools. If you are interested in becoming a principal, you will likely need a Master of Education in Educational Leadership or similar degree along with several years of experience working as a teacher.

Work environment

The principal works within the school grounds and maintains an office near the front of the school. Principals are expected to remain on campus to respond to emergencies, occasionally teach classes when a suitable substitute can’t be found and hold regular teacher and parent conferences. Classroom observation is crucial, and principals often observe teachers during their regular class time. The goal of a classroom observation is to evaluate and provide suggestions for teachers to improve methods and techniques.

Job outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for principals is projected to grow six percent through 2022. This is slower than the average for all occupations and some sectors may experience different levels of growth. Teachers interested in becoming a principal should look into obtaining an online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership. The average salary for a principal was $87,760 in 2012.

Degree requirements

Those interested in becoming a principal can complete master’s degree coursework online. Programs typically take about 20 months to complete. Taking courses online allows teachers to maintain their classroom jobs while earning the requisite degree to become a principal, thus building the teaching experience that is also helpful in obtaining a principal role. Typical programs require the completion of 30 credit hours. The courses help prospective principals learn to effectively supervise personnel, build solid administrative procedures and create budgets. Special courses often deal with teacher guidance, student counseling, student health and student discipline.

Teachers who want to pursue a career in educational administration can learn the skills necessary to succeed with an online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership. This type of advanced degree can help teachers secure their current positions, gain expanded work opportunities and prepare for the dynamic world of educational leadership.

Any current certified teacher can apply to a master’s degree program in education and start the path toward becoming a principal. Related positions include, assistant principal, dean of students and other administrative positions. Online programs make starting and completing a degree simpler, since there are often several start times per year to make it convenient for busy teachers.


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