Individuals who wish to work as a principal should have a background in education, and this may be geared towards a specific grade level or field (such as special education, elementary school, middle school, or high school).
Obtaining a bachelor's degree combined with teaching experience prepares principals for graduate and post-graduate-level work. Some programs might require a master's degree. Because of the rapid increase in non-English speaking student populations, many programs emphasize cross-cultural communication and training techniques.
Doctoral programs for education administration are offered as a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) or an Ed.D. (Doctor of Education).
Doctorate Programs in Education Administration
While many principals are former teachers looking to move into a leadership position, most programs train aspiring principals to manage a school's resources in the same way a business might manage its resources, including budgeting, ordering supplies and human resources. Degree-seekers also learn to manage, train and motivate teachers. A crucial skill learned is how to simultaneously provide academic and emotional leadership for a school's faculty, students and parents. Doctorate programs in this field equip aspiring principals with the skills necessary to provide general administration and leadership in schools and to make sure their students meet state and national academic standards.
Below is a sample list of program courses:
- Group assessment
- Curriculum development
- School finances
- Educator management
- Extracurricular program development
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) predicted that the employment of elementary, middle and high school principals would grow by 4% between 2018-2028. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations, and more than likely due to a higher number of enrollees in schools nationwide. According to BLS reports, the median annual salary for elementary, middle, and high school principals was $96,400 in 2019.
Continuing Education Information
Like all principals, middle school principals who want to work in public schools must be licensed as school administrators in most states. After completing a doctorate in education administration, candidates may need to pass an exam and complete a period of mentored training in a school district to earn their licenses. Maintaining an active license often requires the completion of continuing education credits in topics related to school leadership.
Those wishing to pursue a career as a middle school principal have two options for a degree in education administration; a Ph.D. or an Ed.D. Job outlook is average with an adequate median salary.