How Can I Become a School Principal?

School-PrincipalIf you’re a take-charge type of person with a passion for teaching others, a career as a school principal can be both fulfilling and financially rewarding. A school principal deals with student-related issues, works with teachers, implements school policies, and handles myriad necessary duties each and every day. It is a busy profession, but with a median pay of nearly $90,000, it is also a very lucrative one. As such, if you’re wondering how you can become a school principal, you can rest assured there is work involved, so let’s delve into the educational and professional requirements to begin a career in this rewarding field.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree and Obtain a Teaching Certification

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is expected to be a 10 percent increase in the need for school principals in the next five years. In order to gain entry into this expanding profession, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. It does not necessarily have to be a degree in education, because most states have a separate certification program. After earning a bachelor’s degree in education or any related field, the next step is to obtain a teacher’s certification or license. To do so, you must pass a test in your specialized area of expertise, such as history, English, or mathematics. If you lack a degree, there may be alternative certification programs in your state.

Gain Leadership and Classroom Experience

Before being eligible to become a school principal, the majority of states require that you teach for a certain length of time. This requirement exists because most people can only understand the day to day operations of a school through classroom experience. Being a previous teacher yourself, other teachers will be able to relate to you, creating a supportive working environment. Also, while being a teacher, you should identify opportunities to become involved with committees. Be proactive by visiting your current school’s principal and informing them of your career goals. This will allow you to pick their brain about the position, and they also may give you increased responsibilities to help prepare you for the position.

Earn a Master’s Degree

A master’s degree is a prerequisite for becoming a school principal. Many principals earn a master’s degree in education or school administration, but some states allow you to become a school principal with any master’s degree, as long as you pass the certification process and possess adequate teaching experience. Most people continue teaching full-time while they pursue their master’s degree. In fact, numerous master’s programs in school administration cater to teacher’s needs, providing them with courses one night a week. Of course, summer courses can also be taken to expedite the process.

The process of becoming a principal can be a tedious one, but the real fun begins when you accept an offer. There will undoubtedly be surprises, regardless of your preparation. You will be faced with new issues and challenges every day, but as long as you continue to learn and grow, the reward will be well worth the effort.