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Becoming a Principal

Many people want to work in education, but don't see themselves as teachers. If you're one of these people, you may want to consider becoming a principal. Some of the responsibilities of principals are to:

  • Oversee the daily activities and operations of their school
  • Be viewed as the leader of their respective domains
  • Manage the day-to-day operations of the school
  • Help teachers, staff, and students with any problems they may be having
  • Collaborate with teachers to create and maintain curriculum standards and establish the learning goals for each education level
  • Set the educational standards of the school
  • Ensure that all the policies and procedures are adhered to

Being a principal is challenging and very rewarding, as you get to see the results of your efforts in the faces of all your students. However, it also requires that you work long hours. At times this job can be quite stressful, especially in these days of budget shortfalls and funding cuts. For the right person, a job as principal can provide the right combination of challenge and achievement.

How Do You Become a Principal?

You need to begin as a teacher and work your way up, as principals need to have experience as a teacher before they can work their way into management.

Step 1: Education and Licensure

Becoming a teacher requires that you obtain a bachelor's degree in either education or management (most people who are planning on becoming a principal will choose the management discipline). Afterwards, you'll need to complete a teaching program from an accredited institution. Now you can become a certified teacher in your area.

Step 2: Teaching Experience

The best way to find a permanent teaching position is to begin by substitute teaching in the geographical area that you want to teach. Eventually you will find a regular teaching position. In order to become a principal you will have put in some years as a teacher, while joining various educational groups and committees to show your dedication to teaching and learn how to manage administrative roles.

Step 3: Advanced Degree

Once you have some experience under your belt and are ready to take the next step towards becoming a principal, it's time to complete an advanced degree. This may not be a requirement in some states, but in most you will need a master's degree or doctoral degree in education leadership or education administration. After that you have to become a licensed school administrator by taking a certification test. Again, this is not a requirement in some states.

Step 4: Demonstrate Leadership Abilities

Principals are leaders, so to show others that you have the skills and determination to be a principal you will have to demonstrate these leadership abilities through your volunteer work. Eventually your leadership skills will be recognized and you will be promoted to school principal.

If you think that becoming a principal sounds like the right career path, start by talking to principals in your area about their jobs. Ask them what a typical day is like, what their challenges are, and how they got to where they are today. This will help you decide whether you want to proceed with the educational and administrative requirements so that in a few years, you can become a principal yourself.


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