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Elementary School Principal Education and Training Requirements

Elementary school principals require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Elementary school principals oversee the operation of their respective learning institutions, and some of the duties they perform include mentoring teachers, disciplining students, keeping the school secure and managing the school's budget. They are typically former teachers with a range of experience in teaching and administration within the elementary school system. Principals typically need at least a master's degree in educational leadership or educational administration. They also need to obtain principal licensure in their state.

Required Education Master's degree in educational leadership or administration
Other Requirements State licensure required in most states
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)6% for all elementary and secondary school principals*
Median Salary (September 2014) $76,941 annually for elementary school principals**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

Elementary School Principal Training Requirements

Undergraduate Education

Elementary school principals typically start out teaching, then work their way up the ranks to principal. This means that most elementary school principals have a bachelor's degree, typically in education. They must then complete additional training to fulfill all prerequisites for a teaching license (these vary by state).

Graduate Education

Those desiring to become an elementary school principal typically complete a master's degree in educational leadership or educational administration.

Master's in Educational Administration

Educational administration programs analyze schools as organizations. Subspecialties are often offered within this field; for example, elementary principals may wish to specialize in elementary school education. Universities might offer a Master of Science, Master of Arts or Master of Education.

M.A. and M.S. programs typically focus on research and research methods, while M.Ed. programs focus on coursework and policy. M.Ed. programs are often aimed at teachers who are already teaching in the field but wish to obtain leadership positions in education.

Master's in Educational Leadership

Students can choose from an M.S., M.A. or M.Ed. in Educational Leadership. Those studying educational leadership are able to focus on policy, theory, leadership skills and the practice of teaching. Students can choose to enhance teaching skills or focus exclusively on administration and leadership. Master's degree candidates in this field also study decision-making, ethics and teacher leadership.

Training Requirements

All elementary school principals must be licensed by the state where they will be employed. Because most principals start out as teachers, elementary school principals may have some licensing requirements already filled. Most elementary school principals, however, will also need to be licensed as school administrators; requirements vary by state.

Principals, just like teachers, usually take continuing education requirements to stay current on teaching and administrative licenses. Continuing education requirements vary by state, but usually involve taking online courses or attending seminars on current topics within education.

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Alabama (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at The University of Alabama include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
        • Educational and Curriculum Supervision
        • Educational Leadership
        • Higher Education Administration
        • K thru 8 Administration and Principalship
      • Educational Evaluation and Research
      • ESL Teaching
      • Library Science and Related Professions
      • Special Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics