Principals are responsible for the management of the day-to-day operations of a school. This generally includes coordinating curricula and standards, overseeing faculty and staff and cultivating a safe and productive educational space for everyone.
The exact duties of a principal depend on the size of the school, district and type of school (public or private). In most cases, the principal reports to the school board and superintendent. Principals prepare reports on their school’s performance and needs according to standards set by government agencies like the Department of Education. Principals are responsible for the professional development of faculty and staff as well as the hiring and firing of employees.
Principals must have strong communications skills since they are often seen as the public face of their school. They meet and build relationships with members of their community in order to establish and facilitate growth for programs like before- and after-school care, counseling and funding. Principals may have assistant principals who either handle specified administrative tasks or oversee certain subjects like mathematics or literacy.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the employment of elementary, middle and high school principals is projected to grow 6 percent by 2024. This is due to a projected increase of students enrolled in schools. The BLS also reports that population and student enrollment have grown faster in the South and West in recent years, so job prospects may be better in those regions than others.
The average annual salary for a public school principal in the United States is $90,500, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Principals who have served for 10 years or more make an average of $96,000.
The average salary for private school principals is $65,300, the NCES reports. Those who have worked 10 years or more make an average of $70,900. Non-sectarian private schools with no special emphasis or educational focus offer the highest average pay for principals at $118,100 a year.
Education requirements for principals may vary from school to school or district to district. However, job prospects are best for aspiring principals who have at least a master’s degree if not a doctorate. Most states require prospective high school principals to be licensed as school administrators. Licensing requirements vary by state, but a master’s degree is generally the lowest level of required education. Private schools are not subject to the same regulations as public schools and do not always have the same requirements.