School Principal Career Facts

If you are a professional educator who aspires to one day be a school principal, you might want information and career facts about this particular occupation.

Job Duties

A school principal has many responsibilities, including managing the school and supervising the teachers to make sure that they create a productive educational environment where students can learn. Principals promote scholastic curriculum standards and establish performance goals. They often meet with the staff to discuss school procedures and instructional objectives. In addition, principals set up training for teachers, oversee students' academic development, and manage various school services. They also represent the school to the community and secure support for various school activities.

As the instructional leader of the school, principals are often accountable for how well the students in their schools perform on statewide assessment tests. They also conduct job interviews for teachers and other potential faculty members as well as evaluating the performance of the current staff. In addition, principals may be responsible for managing the school’s budget, especially in smaller school districts.

Principals also handle disciplinary issues with students, determining what action should be taken depending on the severity of the offense. Many times principals will serve as mediators when there are disagreement between parents and teachers so that they can come up with a workable solution that is satisfactory to everyone involved.

Depending on the area of the country, principal may have to face the challenges of school overcrowding or non-English speaking students without adequate resources. Principals often have to work evenings and weekends and during the summer. They usually spend their time planning for the upcoming year, overseeing summer school, supervising building improvements and participating in developmental workshops.


Most principals either have a masters or doctorate degree in educational leadership or administration. In general, you will probably begin your career as a teacher in order to prepare yourself to advance to a higher position in education administration. If you are considering becoming a principal as your career path, you’ll need excellent communication and interpersonal skills, since you will spend a good part of your day interacting with others.

Many states require that their principals be licensed and look very favorably on candidates who have completed accredited programs like those offered by the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Salary and Job Outlook

Depending on the size of the school and the area of the country where you live, a principal's salary can vary greatly - anywhere from $55,000 to $125,000 a year. In 2008, education administrators held just over 445,000 jobs, and employment in this area is expected to grow about approximately 8% in the next decade. Job opportunities for principals should be good due to a large number of expected retirements and fewer applicants due to the increase of responsibilities this career entails. Principals are more likely to find work in either the inner cities or in rural districts, especially since the pay in these areas is often less than for principals who work in the suburbs.

Even though having a career as a principal can be very stressful and challenging, it also can be quite rewarding and fulfilling, especially when the students and teachers under your supervision excel.