Career guide: School administrators

School administration is a smart career path for educators aiming to step out of the classroom and into a leadership role.
    School administration is a smart career path for educators aiming to step out of the classroom and into a leadership role.

    Career guide: School administrators


    Adults can acknowledge their childhood teachers as the ones who provided the basic foundations of Education, which may have taken them to great heights throughout their lives. Behind every great teacher is their administration, which keeps the curriculum and school budget in check. A career in school administration is a respectable path for people interested in encouraging the pursuit of knowledge in today’s youth.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a projected rise of 8 percent in the employment of education administrators through 2026. As the baby boomer generation retires, there may be substantial opportunity for current educators to advance their career as school administrators.

    How do you become an administrator?
    Schools typically hire school administrators with at least a master’s degree in education. Public school principals typically need an administration license. License requirements vary by state, but many states ask that candidates pass an exam and a background check. School administrators may also need several years of teaching experience before pursuing a leadership path.

    After educators teach for many years, they can decide if they want to advance their career in administration. The logical steps of progression in the administration career include, but are not limited to:

    • Assistant principal
    • Principal
    • Superintendent

    Other administrators pursue a career as an instructional coordinator. People in this career develop course materials and oversee curricula that meet school board, federal and state regulations. They perform research involving classroom observation and test data to implement any changes necessary to make schools function at the highest efficiency.

    What do school administrators do?
    Before pursuing a career in education administration, you may want to consider the duties of each role to make sure this is the right fit for you.

    Assistant principals work alongside principals to make sure curricula and learning practices are properly assisting both students and staff. Vice principals typically deal with students’ disciplinary action, punishing negative conduct and rewarding positive behavior.

    Principals perform similar tasks as assistant principals, but have more control over school budgets and hiring new teachers. A school’s principal can set the tone for school morale, so many principals like to attend school plays, sporting events, concerts and pep rallies.

    Superintendents are in charge of managing their districts’ needs. They serve as the liaison between school systems, legislators, taxpayers and the Department of Education in requesting increased funding. Superintendents are the ones to make big decisions in crisis events. They also deal with lower-stakes affairs, such as declaring snow days or delays.

    Average salaries for school administrators
    According to BLS data, elementary, middle and high school principals earn a median salary of $94,390. Instructional coordinators have a national median salary of $63,750. As a comparison, the median salaries for teachers as reported by the BLS are:

    • Elementary teacher: $56,900
    • Middle school teacher: $57,720
    • High school teacher: $59,170

    School superintendent statistics
    In 2018, The School Superintendents Association released a study that pinpoints superintendent demographics in the U.S between 2017 and 2018. The study received 1,172 respondents, 14 percent of the country’s population of superintendents, so the findings are representative of a selection of the population, not of everyone in this profession. 76 percent of respondents were men, 22.5 percent were women and 1.5 percent did not list their gender. Finally, the median age of all respondents was 52 years old.

    What can these results show you about this field? You can infer that people typically do not become superintendents early in their academic careers. Gaining enough experience to become a superintendent may take many years of teaching and working as a school principal. Working up to this level requires more than a master’s degree; it requires hard work and involvement in a school district.

    Finding the right master’s degree in school administration
    If you are pursuing a graduate degree while working, you may want a program that accommodates your busy schedule. A part-time master’s program can provide a rigorous yet manageable workload for employed professionals. You might decide to take classes at a nearby college, or you might prefer the flexibility of an online program. Figuring out what program works best for your lifestyle may require some research, but a rewarding career in education will make the hard work worth it.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our Graduate School Newsletter for Graduate Program News

Form is temporarily not available. Please visit our contact page.