How to Become a School Administrator

Those passionate about education may be wondering how to become a school administrator. Although becoming a school administrator generally requires a Master Degree or higher, there are many education options aside from attending a college or university full-time, such as pursuing an online degree program or earning a degree at night.

School administrators generally work in public or private schools, providing leadership to the teaching staff, managing the school’s daily operations, and implementing state and federal educational mandates. School administrators must have top-notch organizational skills, the ability to lead effectively, budget planning acumen, and an intimate knowledge of the community and its needs. Since the demands of the job are stringent, school districts all over the country are in desperate need of highly-qualified administrators, making the career a good choice for those committed to providing school-age children and adolescents with the best education available to them.

Education Requirements

In order to get accepted into a Master of Education Degree  in Educational Leadership  program, perspective students must have a Bachelor Degree. Some programs also require a teaching certificate and some amount of experience in the classroom.

Students will have to take a wide variety of courses throughout the Master of Education in Educational Leadership program, including Personnel Supervision, Public Policy, School Law, School Systems Organization, and Ethics, not to mention courses in finance and technology. Additionally, master degree students may be required to participate in an internship or be required to with a mentor or school administrator. In order to graduate, students will most likely have to complete and present a master’s thesis.

Students can expect to complete a Master Degree program within two years.

Career Options: What You Can Do with a Master Degree in Educational Leadership

Upon successful completion of a Master Degree  in Educational Leadership,  a graduate has a host of career opportunities from which to choose. In addition to becoming a school principal, a graduate can pursue one of the following positions:

  • Faculty Adviser – helps students determine which courses to take in order to fulfill degree requirements. These positions are usually found in colleges and universities. Salary expectations: Median salary in the U.S. is between $41,000 and $42,000.
  • Assistant Principal – assists the school principal in the day-to-day operations of the school, plans school activities, disciplines students, and advises faculty. Salary Expectations: Median in the U.S. is approximately $77,000.
  • Business Manager – sets the school or district budget, handles personnel, negotiates labor contracts with teachers’ unions, and supervises support staff. Salary Expectations: Between $80,000 and $140,000.
  • Curriculum Coordinator – conducts teacher training, stays up-to-date on new educational requirements and trends, researches and selects class materials, and ensures the school’s or district’s adherence to federal and state educational mandates and codes. Salary Expectations: Median in U.S. is around $63,000.
  • School District Superintendent – works in conjunction with the district school board in order to set curriculum and budgets, writes policies, hires teachers, administrates all facets of school district operations, from financial to curriculum planning. Superintendents frequently work extended hours and experience high levels of stress associated with the position. Salary Expectations: Median in U.S. is approximately $142,000.

Those interested in School Administration can expect to advance their career path and salary by completing a Ph.D. program.

What to Consider If You Pursue a Master Degree in Educational Leadership

School Administration positions can be stressful. Administrators, principals, and superintendents can expect to work long hours and deal with the differing expectations of students, parents, school boards, faculty, and community members. Administrators are under pressure to not only meet state and federal mandates, but to do so within often strict or even austere budgets funded by tax-payers. Due to the difficulty inherent in these positions, the salary is generally high, sometimes reaching the six-figure range. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, an elementary, middle, and high school principal made $86,970 per year. The employment outlook for school principals is expected to grow at a rate of around 10%, depending on the region, through 2020, on par with the national average job growth rate.

School enrollment numbers in the United States are expected to increase in the near future, which will result in a higher demand for passionate, well-educated, and dedicated administrators to lead our nation’s schools.

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