Career Definition for a School District Administrator
School district administrators, or superintendents, act as the 'CEOs' of school systems in their districts, overseeing all educational programs, and supervising all school district staff, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education (www.nces.ed.gov). A career in school district administration brings many responsibilities, from approving budgets to directing academic programs and career counseling services; professionals in this field have the chance to shape the educational environment for students in their particular school district. Many school district administrators begin as teachers and advance through the school system to attain a leadership role.
|Required Education||A bachelor's degree in education as minimum; additional master's or doctoral degree in education administration or leadership|
|Job Duties||Include overseeing all educational programs within their district, supervising school district staff|
|Median Salary (2018)|| $95,310 (all education administrators, elementary and secondary schools)
$82,850 (all other education administrators)
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)|| 11% growth (education administrators, all other)
8% (all elementary, middle, and high school principals)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
School district administrators usually begin as teachers and hold positions as department heads, assistant principals, or junior administrators before moving up in the school district administration ranks. A bachelor's degree in education is required, and almost all school district administrators also earn master's or doctoral degrees in education administration or leadership, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Many states also require professional certification for principals and director-level education administrators. Membership in a professional association such as the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) can help School District Administrators to further develop their professional expertise (www.aasa.org).
A comprehensive background in education is necessary for school district administrators; in particular, employers look for demonstrated leadership ability and excellent organizational skills. Very strong interpersonal skills are also crucial, since school district administrators interact frequently with school district staff, parents, and students. Successful school district administrators are able to motivate others and are able to put their educational values and practices into action.
The BLS predicts a faster than average rate of growth (11%) for many education administration careers in the near future, although the expected growth for school principals from 2016-2026 is 8%. School district administrator jobs will remain competitive. Job prospects may be best in areas of the country where population growth is projected to be significant and may also be more numerous in rural and inner-city areas. According to the BLS, the median annual wage earned by education administrators in elementary and secondary schools was $95,310, while other types of education administrators earned a median of $82,850 annually as of May 2018.
Alternate Career Options
Here are some examples of alternative career options:
Postsecondary Education Administrator
Normally having at least a master's degree, these administrators supervise academics, student services and faculty at colleges and universities. In 2017, they earned a median annual salary of $92,360, according to the BLS, and faster-than-average employment growth of 10% was projected from 2016 through 2026.
These coordinators are responsible for upholding schools' teaching standards and curricula, developing instructional materials and then coordinating their use and assessment with administrators and teachers. Instructional coordinators need a master's degree, at a minimum. During the 2016-2026 decade, these jobs were predicted by the BLS to expand a faster than average pace of 11%. The BLS also reported an annual median wage of $64,450 for instructional coordinators in 2018.