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Alicia Betz
Noodle Expert Member

March 10, 2021

If you're facing burnout as a teacher, becoming an assistant principal can provide the antidote. If you're craving some variety in your daily routine, this could be the job for you.

Don't let the assistant part of the title fool you; becoming an assistant principal is not for the faint of heart. In fact, the discipline issues and daily tasks could make it much harder and more emotionally taxing to be an assistant principal than a principal, particularly at the secondary level. The vast majority of the student discipline in a school falls on the assistant principal. If you think you have what it takes to jump into educational leadership, continue reading to learn more about how to become an assistant principal.

In this article, we'll cover:

  • Pros and cons of becoming an assistant principal
  • Kinds of assistant principal careers
  • Educational commitment to become an assistant principal
  • Licensure and accreditation for becoming an assistant principal
  • Resources for becoming an assistant principal
  • Typical advancement path for assistant principals
  • Further accreditation or education for assistant principals

Pros and cons of becoming an assistant principal

What are the advantages of the education administration field?

Going into education administration as a vice-principal, principal, superintendent, or any leadership position is a logical next step for many teachers 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.

Another benefit of moving into an administrative role is that you have influence on what goes on in your school. Although you still need to follow certain rules and mandates whether you work in public schools or private schools, you can make a difference in the overall culture and the way the school runs. Getting out of the classroom also completely changes the pace of your job; you're no longer bogged down by grading and lesson planning.

What are the benefits of becoming an assistant principal?

The benefits of administrative work include:

  • If you're facing burnout as a teacher, becoming an assistant principal can provide an antidote. It will get you out of the everyday classroom and add some diversity to your routine. An assistant principal often takes on the odd jobs that a school needs to be done, so if you're craving some variety in your daily routine, this is the job for you.
  • You'll enjoy greater flexibility in planning your day.
  • You'll interact with more students and teachers.
  • You'll make a difference in the lives of students every time you impact the culture of the school, intervene in a bullying situation, and many of the other countless tasks that fill a vice principal's day.

What are the disadvantages of becoming an assistant principal?

The role is not also without its downsides. They include:

  • In your more public-facing role as a school administrator, you will have more responsibilities and draw more attention from faculty and parents. When things go wrong on a school-wide level, it's your responsibility to fix it.
  • You'll also attend a lot more meetings than you did as a teacher—with other administrators, teachers, and parents/community members.
  • You'll probably lose your summer vacation. Administrators typically work year-round. If you've enjoyed having a break during the summer as a teacher, this could be hard to adjust to as a school administrator.

Kinds of assistant principal careers

What makes a good assistant principal?

Vice 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 too assertive and domineering that students are afraid of you. Good assistant principals are able to find that delicate balance.

How much do assistant principals make?

According to Glassdoor, assistant principals earn an average salary of $88,585, with salaries ranging anywhere from $59,000 to $130,000. Payscale offers somewhat lower figures, reporting an average salary of $71,976 with a salary range from $53,000 to $101,000. splits the difference, setting the median salary at $86,729 and a salary range of $75,607 to $101,357.

Educational commitment to become an assistant principal

What do you need to become an elementary, middle, or high school assistant principal?

Requirements and certifications vary by state, but usually, if you meet the requirements to be an assistant principal, you can work with any grade level. In the job application process, it's likely the hiring team will look for you to have experience teaching or working with the grade level you will be administering. The more you experience and training you have with the level of students you will be supervising, the better you'll be able to impact student achievement. The way school principals lead elementary schools is very different from the way they lead high schools.

How long does it take to earn an education administration degree?

In order to be an assistant principal or enter any form of educational leadership, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree, and in most cases, a master's degree. Some administrators get their Ed.S. or their Ed.D. 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 the Ed.S (an additional two years) or the Ed.D (an additional three years).

Licensure and accreditation for becoming an assistant principal

How are licensure and accreditation requirements different for public and private education administration?

Private schools often have less strict guidelines than public schools. They get to make their own rules, so you could land a job as a vice principal without a degree in educational leadership, and maybe even without teaching experience.

How do licensure and accreditation for assistant principals vary by location?

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.

Resources for becoming an assistant principal

Where can you find financial resources for an education administration degree?

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, it's a great option since it's not a loan.

You can also look into different types of aid offered by the U.S. Department of Education.

Where can you find resources for working assistant principals?

Seeking further information? Here's where to look:

Typical advancement path for assistant principals

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 the average time people remain assistant principals is four years.

Further accreditation or education for assistant principals

Why is continuing education and accreditation important for assistant principals?

With a role in educational leadership, it's important to continue your own education to keep learning and set a good example for students. The higher education courses for you that will be the most beneficial will be the ones that address issues you face.

How often should assistant principals take continuing education and accreditation courses?

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.

Alicia Betz is a writer and high school English teacher. She earned her bachelor’s in education from Pennsylvania State University and her master’s in education—as well as a certificate in online teaching and learning—from Michigan State University.

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