Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Career, Salary and Education Information

Top 3 Elementary School Principal Jobs

  • Interim Principal - UP Education Network - Lawrence, MA

    The Interim Principal will co-lead the School Leadership Team with the Director of Operations and will oversee the implementation of the academic

  • Strings/Orchestra Teacher - Ross School - Bridgehampton, NY

    The Teacher composes learning evaluations and prepares for and participates in parent-teacher conferences, as needed. Qualifications

  • Elementary Principal at Guadalupe Elementary School Beg: November - Union Elementary - San Jose, CA

    Employer: Union Elementary Date Posted: 10/17/2017 Contact: Dorothy Romano 408-377-8010 44238 Number Openings: (At time of posting

See all Elementary School Principal jobs

Top 3 Middle School Principal Jobs

  • Strings/Orchestra Teacher - Ross School - Bridgehampton, NY

    The Teacher composes learning evaluations and prepares for and participates in parent-teacher conferences, as needed. Qualifications

  • Interim Principal - UP Education Network - Lawrence, MA

    The Interim Principal will co-lead the School Leadership Team with the Director of Operations and will oversee the implementation of the academic

  • Cross Country Coach - Area Cooperative Educational Services - Hamden, CT

    Internal

See all Middle School Principal jobs

Top 3 High School Principal Jobs

  • Principal (Anticipated Vacancy) - UP Education Network - Massachusetts

    Principal 2018 2019 School Year Start Date: Provide exemplary leadership to all members of the schools community to achieve outstanding performance

  • Strings/Orchestra Teacher - Ross School - Bridgehampton, NY

    The Teacher composes learning evaluations and prepares for and participates in parent-teacher conferences, as needed. Qualifications

  • Assistant Principal, High School - Alpha Public Schools - San Jose, CA

See all High School Principal jobs

What Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals Do[About this section] [To Top]

Elementary, middle, and high school principals manage all school operations, including daily school activities. They coordinate curricula, oversee teachers and other school staff, and provide a safe and productive learning environment for students.

Duties of Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals typically do the following:

  • Manage school activities and staff, including teachers and support personnel
  • Establish and oversee class schedules
  • Develop, implement, and maintain curriculum standards
  • Counsel and discipline students
  • Observe teachers and classroom activities
  • Assist teachers in managing students’ behavior
  • Evaluate teachers’ performance
  • Meet with parents and teachers to discuss students’ progress and behavior
  • Assess and prepare reports on test scores and other student achievement data
  • Organize professional development programs and workshops for staff
  • Manage the school’s budget, order school supplies, and schedule maintenance
  • Establish and coordinate security procedures for students, staff, and visitors

Elementary, middle, and high school principals manage the overall operation of schools, including building maintenance and cafeteria services. They set and oversee academic goals and ensure that teachers have the necessary equipment and resources. In public schools, principals also implement standards and programs set by the school district, state, and/or federal regulations. They evaluate and prepare reports on their school’s performance based on these standards by assessing student achievement and teacher performance. Principals may establish and oversee additional programs in their school, such as counseling, special education programs, and before- and after-school childcare programs.

Principals serve as the public face of their school. They meet with superintendents, legislators, and members of the community to request or explain funding for their schools. They also address the concerns of parents and members of the community.

The duties of principals vary by the size of the school and district. In larger schools and districts, principals have additional resources and staff to help them achieve goals. For example, large school districts often have instructional coordinators who help with data analysis and with teachers’ professional development. Principals also may have staff who oversee the hiring process of all school personnel, including teachers, custodians, and cafeteria workers. Principals in small school districts may need to assume these and other duties themselves.

Many schools have assistant principals who help principals with school administration. Principals typically assign specific administrative duties to their assistant principals. In some school districts, assistant principals are hired to handle a specific subject area, such as literacy or math. Assistants may be assigned to handle student safety, provide student academic counseling, or enforce disciplinary or attendance rules. They may also coordinate buses or supervise building and grounds maintenance.

Work Environment for Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals[About this section] [To Top]

Elementary, middle, and high school principals hold about 240,000 jobs.

Principals work in public or private elementary, middle, or high schools. Some work in public magnet or charter schools. Others work in private religious schools.

Elementary, middle, and high school principals hold leadership positions with significant responsibility. Working with students may be rewarding. However, coordinating and interacting with faculty, parents, students, community members, and state and local policymakers can be demanding. Principals’ work can sometimes be stressful because they are accountable for schools meeting state and federal standards for student performance and teacher qualification.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal Work Schedules

Principals typically work full time. They may work evenings or weekends to meet with parents and other members of the community and to attend school functions, such as concerts and athletic events.

Many principals work year round and do not have summers off, even if students are not in school. During the summer, principals prepare for the upcoming school year, schedule building maintenance, order school supplies, and hire teachers and other staff.

How to Become an Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals near you!

Most schools require elementary, middle, and high school principals to have a master’s degree in education administration or leadership. Most principals also have work experience as teachers.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal Education

Principals typically need a master’s degree in education leadership or education administration. These master’s degree programs prepare future principals to manage staff, prepare and manage budgets, set goals, and work with parents and the community. To enter the master’s degree programs, candidates typically need a bachelor’s degree in education, school counseling, or a related field.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Principals typically need several years of work experience as a teacher. For more information on how to become a teacher, see the profiles on kindergarten and elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and high school teachers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require public school principals to be licensed as school administrators. Licensure requirements vary by state, but most require a master’s degree. Some states have alternative programs for candidates who do not have a master’s degree in education administration or leadership. Most states also require candidates to pass an exam and a background check.

Principals in private schools are not required to have a state-issued license.

Advancement for Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

An assistant principal can advance to become a principal. Some principals advance to become superintendents, which may require completion of additional education. Others become instructional coordinators.

Important Qualities for Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Communication skills. Principals must communicate effectively with students, teachers, and parents. For example, when dealing with student disciplinary or academic issues, they consult with and listen to parents and teachers to understand the problem.

Critical-thinking skills. Principals analyze student test results and testing procedures to determine if improvements are needed. They must assess the available options and choose the best means to help students achieve better results.

Decisionmaking skills. Because principals are responsible for students, staff members, and the overall operation of the school, they consider many factors when making decisions.

Interpersonal skills. Because principals work with teachers, parents, and superintendents, they must be able to develop positive working relationships with them.

Leadership skills. Principals set educational goals and establish policies and procedures for the school. They need to be able to motivate teachers and other staff to achieve set goals.

Problem-solving skills. Teachers, students, and other staff members report problems to the principal. Principals need to be able to analyze problems, and develop and implement appropriate solutions.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for elementary, middle, and high school principals is $90,410. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $59,070, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $131,310.

Principals typically work full time. They may work evenings or weekends to meet with parents and other members of the community and to attend school functions, such as concerts and athletic events.

Principals work year round and do not have summers off, even if students are not in school. During the summer, principals prepare for the upcoming school year, schedule building maintenance, order school supplies, and hire teachers and other staff.

Job Outlook for Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of elementary, middle, and high school principals is projected to grow 6 percent through 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by increases in school enrollments.

Through 2024, the number of students enrolled in schools is projected to increase. Some additional schools may open to accommodate these students, resulting in a need for more assistant principals and principals.

Despite expected increases in enrollment, employment growth of school principals will depend on state and local budgets. Budget constraints may delay the building or opening of new schools. In addition, some school districts may consolidate and close some schools within their districts, thereby limiting employment growth.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals Job Prospects

Job prospects will be best for candidates with a master’s degree and with teaching experience. As the large baby-boom generation retires, there may be better opportunities for candidates to advance into the principal occupation. Additional vacancies may stem from individuals who choose to leave the position due to heavy workloads and high job-related stress.

However, job opportunities will vary by region of the country. The population and student enrollments have grown faster in the South and West in recent years. Job opportunities for principals may be better in those parts of the country.

Employment projections data for Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Education administrators, elementary and secondary school 240,000 254,000 6 14,000


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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