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How to Become a School Principal

Bachelor's or higher degree, plus work experience

The majority of schools require that principals for any level; elementary, middle and high school obtain a master's degree in leadership or education administration. Principals commonly have previous work experience as teachers.

Education & Training

Master degree programs in education administration or education leadership are usually required for principals. These degree courses prepare the principals of tomorrow to set goals, manage staff and teachers, how to work with the community and parents as well as determining and setting budgets. Candidates usually require a bachelor's degree in school counseling or education or some other related field.

Principal candidates almost always have related work experience as a teacher. Experience may be from K to grade 12.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Public school principals are often licensed as school administrators. Different places offer various requirements for licensure; however, the majority relies on a master's degree.

Some candidates are required to take continuing education classes and pass a test to maintain their license. Participation in a mentorship program may additionally be required.

Individuals who do not have their degree in education leadership or administration may be eligible via alternative programs. Part of the certification process includes successfully completing a background check. Principals of private schools may have different licensing agreements.

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Communication Skills: It is necessary that the principal communicates with parents, teachers and students on a continual basis. Dealing with student discipline often involves working together with the teachers and the parents to identify the core issue and develop a strategy for success.

Critical-Thinking Skills: Test results along with testing procedures are analyzed in order to determine areas of improvement to help students attain stellar results.

Decision-Making Skills: Due to the high level of responsibility principals have for their students, staff and the entire school premises, numerous factors have to be taken into account during decision making. Whether or not to close the school due to a snowstorm to ensure the safety of students and teachers is a prime example.

Interpersonal Skills: Principals work closely with superintendants, parents, teachers and administrative staff daily; therefore, they must be capable of creating positive working relationships with them.

Leadership Skills: Principals are responsible for establishing policies and setting educational goals and procedures for the entire school. They are required to motivate staff and teachers to set goals.

Problem-Solving Skills: Students, teachers and almost everyone reports issues directly to the principal. It is vital that the principal has the ability to analyze issues and think of creative strategies for implementing solutions to a variety of issues.

How To Advance

Advancement can be made from assistant principal to principal. Certain principals move on to superintendent positions. This title may require extra education to be completed. Moving on to become an instructional coordinator is another option.