Elementary School Principal: Job Info and Career Requirements

Jan 30, 2023

Career Definition for Elementary School Principals

Elementary school principals are in charge of managing public and private schools for children in kindergarten to middle school. They work with district-level administrators, superintendents, faculty, and staff to ensure the smooth running of schools. Common duties of elementary school principals include setting performance goals, crafting mission statements, hiring and evaluating staff, visiting classrooms, preparing budget reports, and other duties as necessary.

Education Master's degree in education administration or related field
Job Duties Setting performance goals, crafting mission statements, hiring staff
Median Salary (2021)* $98,420 (all elementary and secondary school education administrators)
Job Growth (2021-2031)* 5% (all elementary, middle, and high school principals)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most elementary school principals have teaching experience before moving into an administrative role. Becoming an elementary school principal also will typically require a master's degree or higher in a field like education administration; this means to become an elementary school principal, you'll need to complete a bachelor's degree to become a teacher and also a 1- or 2-year master's degree program. In addition, many states also require elementary school principals to be licensed. Coursework that will help prepare you for a career in elementary school administration includes classes like public school administration, school-based evaluation, conflict management in educational settings, educational leadership, and school law.

Skill Requirements

Working as an elementary school principal requires strong management and administration skills. Being able to delegate tasks, provide constructive criticism, and communicate effectively will help you in a career in elementary school administration.

Employment and Economic Outlook

The employment outlook for elementary, middle, and high school principals is average compared to other occupations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment in this field was predicted to grow 5% from 2021-2031. The median income in 2021 for elementary and secondary school education administrators was $98,420 per year.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Instructional Coordinator

A career requiring a master's degree in curriculum and instruction, or a related field, is that of instructional coordinator. Sometimes also required to be licensed, these professionals oversee the curricula and teaching standards of a school district. Faster than average employment growth of 7% was expected by the BLS, from 2021-2031, for jobs in this field. The median annual wage for instructional coordinators in 2021, according to the BLS, was $63,740.

School and Career Counselor

This profession usually requires a master's degree in school counseling, and counselors in private practice normally need licensure. School and career counselors help students succeed in school or assist adults with career choices. The BLS predicted 10% job growth for this occupation, which was much faster than average, from 2021-2031. The BLS reported these counselors earned a median salary of $60,510 per year in 2021.

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