School district administrators are highly trained education professionals who typically have a master's degree, Ph.D. or graduate certificate in a field of study related to education administration. They may be required to be licensed by their state.
Though school district administrators are not required to earn certification, they do need to hold licensure to work in public schools in most states. To become licensed, candidates generally need to complete some form of graduate education, such as a graduate certificate or degree program in education administration or leadership. The following table outlines the requirements for earning a school administration license:
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree plus graduate certificate, master's degree or Ph.D.|
|Training||Mentorship with an experienced administrator may be required|
|Exam Requirements||Computerized exam|
|Other Requirements||Continuing education to maintain licensure|
Graduate Programs for School District Administrators
School district administrators, including preschool directors, principals and assistant principals, central office administrators and superintendents, set educational standards and goals for their institutions. The Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC), a division of the National Policy Board for Educational Administration, accredits training programs for elementary and secondary administrators. To qualify for accreditation, a program must prepare prospective school district administrators to develop, articulate, implement and guide their visions for a school or school district.
Most public school administrators must complete graduate-level training, such as a certificate or master's or doctoral degree program in educational leadership, education administration or a related field. Graduate certificate programs generally range from 18-36 credit hours in length and contain classes on topics like school law, organization, leadership, curriculum development and evaluation, community relations and counseling. Students also typically complete courses in school finance and budgeting and resource management. Additionally, graduate certificate programs for aspiring school district administrators often require students to participate in a mentor relationship with an experienced administrator.
School District Administrator Licensure Information
Not all school district administrators are required to hold state licensure; however, it generally is required for elementary, middle and secondary school principals, as well as preschool directors. To qualify for licensure, an aspiring principal typically must complete graduate-level training and a mentoring program, in addition to passing an exam. Because the field of education is always changing, principals may be required to continue their education in order to maintain licensure.
Prospective preschool directors often must meet education and experience requirements in order to gain state licensure. They also might be required to hold professional certification, such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Elementary and secondary school education administrators earned an annual median salary of $90,410 as of 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). From 2014-2024, the BLS projects a 6% employment increase for elementary, middle and high school principals, which is as fast as the average growth for all occupations.
School district administrators oversee all aspects of a school system, from classroom instruction to school resources and balancing the district's budget. Graduate programs that lead to this career field can include budgeting and resource management as well as approaches to leadership and curriculum development. School district administrators are often required to complete a mentorship program in addition to their graduate studies.