In the corporate world, the chief executive officer (CEO) sets a company’s strategic vision, plots long-term goals, and makes the final decision on important matters. Day-to-day management typically falls to the chief operating officer (COO), the second in command.
Don’t conclude the term assistant indicates easier. If anything, the daily tasks can make the assistant principal’s role the more emotionally taxing of the two, particularly at the middle school level. That’s because the vast majority of the student discipline falls on the assistant principal.
If you think you have what it takes to jump into educational leadership, continue reading to learn how to become an assistant principal. This article discusses:
Going into education administration as a vice-principal, principal, superintendent, or any leadership position is a logical next step for teachers looking to advance their career. Earning your master’s degree or beyond and obtaining leadership skills to work in education administration can earn you a much higher salary.
Becoming an administrator also broadens your impact on students and your school. You’ll be able to influence the culture of the entire school, not just your classroom. If you’re feeling bogged down by grading and lesson planning as a teacher, leaving those chores behind is yet another plus.
The benefits of administrative work include:
The role is not also without its downsides. They include:
The salary medians for professionals with a master's or doctorate in Education Administration range from $75,000 to $320,000 depending on the location, degree, and qualified job position. (
A Doctor of Education (EdD) or PhD can advance a career even further than a master’s—meaning more responsibility and better pay.
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Assistant principals need to be assertive and organized. There are many things to keep track of in a school district; staying organized ensures you won’t drop the ball. You also need to be assertive to handle the student discipline issues, but not so assertive and domineering that students are afraid of you. Good assistant principals are able to find that delicate balance.
According to Glassdoor, assistant principals earn an average salary of $83,000, with salaries ranging anywhere from $56,000 to $124,000. Payscale offers somewhat lower figures, reporting an average salary of $75,000 with a salary range from $56,000 to $105,000.
Requirements and certifications vary by state. Some states require a graduate degree such as a Master of Education. Even those that don’t require it are likely to prefer candidates who hold an advanced degree. Some employers may require or prefer a further degree, typically a Doctor of Education (EdD).
A full-time student can typically earn a bachelor’s in four years and a master’s in an additional two years. A master’s degree is prerequisite to an EdD (which typically requires an additional three years).
Both private and public schools are subject to state statutory regulations. Private schools face less stringent requirements than do public schools. Still, they must satisfy the parents who pay students’ bills, and their hiring decisions reflect that.
Most states require public school administrators to have an advanced degree such as a master’s degree in educational administration, teaching experience, and licensing/certification. To find local licensing and accreditation requirements for assistant principals, check with your state’s department of education.
Check first with the school district you work for if you’re currently a teacher. Many districts provide tuition reimbursement. There are often a few caveats, like taking courses in the education field and remaining employed by the district for a certain number of years. If your district offers this, pursue it. It’s a great option.
You can also look into different types of aid offered by the U.S. Department of Education.
Seeking further information? Here’s where to look:
Where you end up in education administration is entirely up to you; you probably already have an end in mind. Some high school teachers become secondary education high school principals on the way to becoming superintendents. Some people want to become a vice principal and end their advancement there.
Unfortunately, principals aren’t immune to burnout and turnover; they face this same problem high school teachers and teachers at all levels do. A recent study found that nearly half of all top-level school administrators deal with burnout issues. The COVID pandemic certainly didn’t help.
With a role in educational leadership, it’s important to continue your own education to keep learning and set a good example for students. Education theory and practice are ever-evolving fields. You’ll need to keep current to remain effective.
You should always be continuing your education, although your state will require you to complete a certain number of courses or training hours every few years to keep your certification.
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