What Are the Duties of a School Administrator?

Find out what school administrators do and how to become one. Learn about common education and career paths at various school levels. See what kind of salary you might earn. Schools offering College Administration & Leadership degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does the Work of School Administrators Entail?

Your duties as a school administrator will depend on whether you work in a preschool, a school district's central office or a K-12 school. As a preschool director, you would hire, train and supervise teachers, assist in the classroom as needed, prepare budgets, purchase supplies, monitor compliance with state child care regulations and interact with the public. If based in a central office, you would likely oversee assorted programs. Career development for teachers or new administrators, aptitude testing, athletics, arts, curriculum development and special education are among the program types a district sponsors.

In a school setting, your duties will be determined by your position as an assistant principal or principal. Assistant principals perform a variety of tasks including coordinating bus service and extracurricular activities, observing classrooms and placing orders for textbooks and school supplies. Student discipline, counseling and assisting in curriculum development may be part of your responsibilities. Depending on the size of a school, principals may ask you to participate in community outreach events, teacher evaluations or board committee meetings.

As a principal, your obligations fall into several areas, including routine business administration, education quality and human resources management. Drawing up budgets, organizing fundraisers, supervising maintenance and preparing school performance reports are among your business administration duties. Duties bearing on education quality include consulting with teachers about curriculum decisions, instructional methods, performance targets and your school's overall educational mission. Human resources management duties include hiring and training teachers, monitoring teacher performance and providing feedback. Other duties include planning for each new school year, meeting with parents and attending seminars and workshops.

What Training Do I Need?

School administrators at any level have typically worked as teachers first. You can usually become a preschool director with a bachelor's degree in early childhood education. School administrator positions above preschool require a master's degree in education leadership, education administration or a related major.

Programs in early childhood education primarily examine the capacity of children aged 0-4 to learn and how factors such as family, culture and the process of psychological and physical development affect that capacity. Course topics touch on language skills, child psychology and behavior management. Many programs provide opportunities to intern as a teacher, though not as an administrator.

Education administration programs expose you to current school leadership theory and practices and help you develop your own approach, vision or philosophy of leadership. Resource and personnel management, planning, education technology, public policy and curriculum development are possible course topics. Some programs might offer separate concentrations for business management, K-12 education and postsecondary education.

Where Do Professionals Work?

During the 2007-2008 school years there were 33,740 private schools and 13,924 public school districts administering 98,916 schools, per the National Center for Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov). These groups are your potential employers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 58,900 people worked as preschool administrators and 230,600 people worked as elementary or secondary school administrators as of 2008 (www.bls.gov). Approximately 81% were employed at private schools, public schools and school districts. From 2008-2018 the employment of school administrators was projected to grow eight percent per the BLS.

What Could I Earn?

You could earn a median salary of $41,060 and a middle range of $32,010-$58,190 as a preschool administrator, according to the BLS as of May 2009. The BLS also reported that the median wage of elementary and secondary school administrators was $85,220 with the middle range being $69,560-$104,050 at the same time. A March 2011 search from PayScale.com showed that assistant principals earned $53,424-$79,839, elementary school principals grossed $60,447-$91,040 and high school principals made $67,092-$99,510.

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