Job description

Principals work in elementary, middle and high schools, as well as pre-schools, daycares, colleges and universities, the entire year. He or she will manage public and private school operations and other daily activities.

They are responsible for managing staff and teachers, completing administrative tasks, coordinating curriculum with the local school board, and giving students a safe and productive environment to learn and grow.


    • Plan academic calendars for the entire school
    • Design new programmes, restructure old ones, and maintain these agendas
    • Establish and enforce school policies
    • Supervise faculty, staff and students, and ensure they are doing what they need to do
    • Handle student recruitment and admissions into the school
    • Communicate with parents when it is necessary
    • Secure funding for the school, and handle the institution’s budget
    • Discipline students when they have violated school policies
    • Hire new staff members and terminate current employees
    • Assess teaching methods by monitoring their performance in the classroom and examining test results
    • Oversee facilities and determine if renovations, repairs or replacements are needed
    • Attend school functions after hours, like school board meetings, plays, concerts and sporting events
    • Speak with the media should a newsworthy incident happen to the school

Skills and qualities

Emotional intelligence
Good memory

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
No data currently available.


Career progression

Before getting hired as a principal at a private high school or a public elementary school, you will often need to spend a few years in a teaching position first. This allows you to better understand how schools operate, what common student needs are and what the various teacher concerns a principal will come across.

Also, many principals serve as assistant principals first.

After succeeding in this field and receiving numerous accolades, principals will advance to various roles like superintendent and school district manager. Principals could later transfer to other areas, such as publishing, grants development, pupil services and authorship.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

Evenings and weekends occasionally

A principal will complete the standard 40-hour work week. However, principals may need to come into the school on evenings or weekends to meet with parents, speak with members of the community or attend school events related to arts and sports. Principals do not enjoy summers off as teachers do, and they will work year-round.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


Master’s degree in education leadership

Study time

6 years

To become a principal, a bachelor’s degree is required, preferably in education. You then typically need a master’s degree in either education leadership or education administration. This degree will educate you on learning theories, curriculum design, ethics, teacher evaluation and budget management.

Jurisdictions do have different rules and regulations that might mandate licensing or certification to become a principal. You will also need to pass a background check.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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