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How to Become the Principal of a School


You do have to work your way up through the school system in order to obtain a job as the principal of a school. You do need to have a Bachelor’s degree, a diploma from a teacher preparation course and the appropriate teaching certification in order to first get hired as a teacher. During your initial period of five years, you must meet the requirements for the professional certificate, which usually means you take courses leading to a master’s degree. In order to become a principal, the minimum qualifications are that you have a Master of Education degree and significant successful teaching experience.

Once you decide that you would like the job of principal, you do nee to have the teaching certification as a school administrator. Since there are different teaching certification procedures for some of the states, you do need to check that you take the right courses and exams. In order to become an administrator of a school in Alaska, you need to meet the following requirements to receive an administrative certificate:
  • A minimum of three years of teaching experience
  • An approved school administration course from a teacher training institution

  • A minimum of a master’s degree
  • A recommendation from the teacher training program
  • A minimum of six university courses in the period preceding the application for the administrative certificate
  • Three credit hours of course dealing with issues related to Alaska
  • A complete application package
This is just one example of the route one must take in order to advance from the role of regular teacher to that of school principal. In Colorado, there is a state certification test for principals as one of the PLACE tests for that state. In general, an administration must have knowledge of four main areas of governing the school. You would need to have knowledge of the basic foundations of educational leadership and which types of leadership work better than others. Continuous school improvement is essential in order to keep the school and the teaching staff current in relation to innovative teaching techniques and methodologies. How to lead the instructional program of the school means that you would need to know the instructional practices teachers use and should use, the various types of programs offered in the school and the best ways to effect change from within.

Managing the organization of the school is one of the duties that you will find taking up a lot of your time as principal. This means developing and maintaining a budget for the school to cover expenses throughout the year. For this reason, a school administrator should also have some accounting or business management knowledge and experience. Dealing with contract negotiations is also part of the job, but this is not something that will occur on an annual basis. The administration is also responsible for hiring new teachers through the interview process as well as supervising and evaluating these teachers. Discipline problems, problems between colleagues, planning and arranging for staff meetings and professional development opportunities all fall within the realm of the school principal. If you think you have what it takes to do this job, there are plenty of opportunities for advancement to the position in schools all across the country.
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