Are you interested in improving education at the system level? You might consider a career as a secondary school principal or educational administrator. Training is available through master's, doctoral and educational specialist programs. Read on to learn more.
If you were a secondary school principal, you'd create school policies, prepare budgets and strive to meet local, state and national academic standards. As a school administrator, you'd oversee educational programs within a school or school district, launch new curricula and work to improve teaching techniques. In both jobs, you'd create financial and academic goals for your school, gathering input from students, parents and teachers so their concerns could be effectively addressed. Another part of your job would be to motivate and inspire teachers. To be successful at this, you must be an innovative leader, with excellent communication, interpersonal and organizational skills.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were about 222,700 principals and education administrators in the U.S. in 2010. During the 2008-2018 decade, the BLS predicted that among secondary school administrators, this number would rise by nine percent, with growth due to anticipated retirements, a limited number of qualified applicants and the stressful nature of the profession (www.bls.gov). Job prospects would likely be best in the South and West, where increasing school enrollment is expected. As of May 2010, the median annual salary for school principals and administrators was $86,970.
To become a school principal or administrator, you must have at least a master's degree in school leadership or school administration. You may need two or more years of teaching experience to enroll in a master's program. Advanced coursework is aimed at developing leadership, decision-making and research skills, as well as exploring methods for improving secondary education. Finances, budgetary issues and school law are among the practical topics covered. In some master's programs, you might be required to do fieldwork, observing working principals and administrators and participating in some of their decision-making processes. In addition to your master's degree, most states require you to obtain principalship licensure if you'll be working in a public school system.
If you already have a master's degree in another field or want to receive advanced training in school leadership or education, you could complete an educational specialist program. Most colleges require a valid teaching license to enroll. Courses cover methods for managing and supervising others, strategies for developing curricula, trends in education administration and financial issues for schools. It's likely you'd have to complete a field experience or practicum to graduate.
Some schools require a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) to become a principal, administrator or superintendent. To enroll in a Ph.D. program in education, you must have at least a master's degree, preferably in a field related to education. High-level coursework and research focuses on school systems and community relations, as well as implementing new technology in the classroom.