Steps to Become a Principal

Are you looking to become a school principal? If you are willing and dedicated, becoming a principal is an achievable goal. However, you first need to understand the requirements and the responsibilities that you will have if you manage to become one. School principals play a significant role in education. They oversee the school’s daily operations and also provide much-needed educational leadership. If you think you are up to the task, here are some steps you can take to become a school principal. 

Who is a School Principal?

The school principal is basically the head of a school. They manage budgets, oversee instruction, and guide operations so that the school operates within the education policies. It takes a lot of preparation to become a school principal. 

There are several ways to become a school principal. One of the most common ways is to start as a teacher and work your way up the ladder. There are other routes as well. However, no matter how you become one, there are some steps that you can not skip. Read on for some basic steps to becoming a principal.

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Educational Qualifications

Your journey to becoming a principal starts with acquiring a bachelor’s degree in teaching or education. The majority of principals have a bachelor’s degree. There are also many others who take it further and attain master’s degrees or even doctoral degrees. There are several principal preparation programs that you can take advantage of. Some are on-campus, and some are principal preparation online programs

Become a Certified Teacher

Many states require that everyone who wants to become a principal first attain a teaching certification. This is the second step you need to take if you want to become a school principal. There are several accredited teacher preparation programs that you can complete to become a certified teacher. Upon completing any of these programs, you will also need to take the National Teacher Exam. This is a standardized test that assesses your teaching and learning concepts. Once you have passed this test, you can then apply for your teaching license. Each state has its own requirements when it comes to getting a teaching license. Therefore, you should check with the Department of Education in the state where you want to work.

Gain Some Teaching Experience

Before you can become a principal, you should gain some experience as a teacher. Most individuals who become principals usually advance from the teaching ranks. That’s why it’s advisable to start in the classroom. Starting off as a teacher will enable you to develop the leadership skills needed to be a successful principal. You will need at least three years of hands-on teaching experience to become a principal. During this time, you will hone your skills and get an understanding of what it takes to be a successful teacher.


Get a Relevant Master’s Degree

There are several master’s degree programs that can prepare you for the challenges of being a school principal. Some of the most common programs include the Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. You can also opt for online programs like the Master of Arts in Urban Education With a Concentration in Principal Preparation. While not every state requires principals to attain a master’s degree, it’s strongly advisable to get one. Principal preparation Master’s degrees cover things like instructional leadership, school finances, and educational law. You can also choose some courses in your areas of interest. 

Get the School Principal Certification

The majority of states require school principals to be certified. Each state has its own certification process. However, most certification programs include sitting for exams and completing a specified number of hours of professional development. Principal certification proves that you have the necessary knowledge and skills needed to run a school. You must also keep in mind that some states offer alternative certification programs for individuals with master’s degrees in another field. This is a great way to fast-track your path to becoming a school principal.

Once you have completed the steps above, all that will be left is to find a job as a school principal. There are many ways to find principal positions. Most people use the principal job market. You can also use search engines for jobs to find open positions in areas where you want to work. All you need to do is use the right search terms. For instance, you can use “principal” and the location where you want to find a job. This will give you a list of open positions in your area of interest.