How to Become a Superintendent

How to Become a Superintendent: Career Path Guide

To become a superintendent of schools, you will likely need a master’s degree in education administration or leadership, combined with a few years worth of experience as a teacher and experience as a school administrator.


But before you meet any of those qualifications, you will need to figure out if the duties of the job will be appealing to you, and if you’ve got the right set of qualities to bring to it.


Being a superintendent would involve ensuring optimum usage of school district staff, developing and implementing effective educational plans, and ensuring that the schools within your district are getting the support services and resources they need to achieve the goals set out for them.


Carrying out these duties will require a sincere concern for the education of future generations, the ability to delegate, the ability to take a stand and make decisions, and a collaborative approach to problem solving.


So, if becoming a superintendent of schools sounds like it might suit you, then read on below; we’ll tell you what you'll need to make it in this field!



Education You'll Need

Provincial/state superintendent certification requirements and a board of education will stipulate the exact educational requirements you’ll need to meet. 


Typically however, you will need a master’s, and sometime doctorate, in a field related to education administration or leadership. If not, you will almost certainly need to complete a certain amount of coursework in educational administration, law and finance, which are crucial areas of knowledge for working in this field.




Required Experience

A common requirement for becoming a superintendent is to have a few years (2-5 oftentimes) of experience in school administration. Such experience may include working as a vice-principal, a principal, or even above that level in a position such as curriculum administrator or director. 


It’s important to note that having experience as a teacher is often a prerequisite for working in any of the above-mentioned school administration jobs.


So in summary, you will likely need a few years worth of experience as a teacher, and then a few years of experience in school administration in order to qualify for becoming a superintendent.



Certification Requirements

Each province/state determines whether or not you need to be certified to work as a superintendent of schools, although many require it. Criteria for certification would also vary by region, but would likely involve meeting the education and experience requirements outlined above, in addition to passing an assessment or test. 


Continuing education would also likely be required to keep certification current.



Is This Career Right for You?

No matter what stage of your career development you’re at, you should have the following attributes if you hope to one day become a superintendent:


• A sincere concern for the education of future generations

• Comfortable working and communicating with young people, teachers, and community members

• Able to make important decisions and take a stand when necessary, instead of trying to make everyone happy

• A belief that providing quality education should come before seeking personal gains

• A collaborative rather than confrontation approach to problem solving

• Well organized and able to handle a large workload





Details of this Profession: General Job Description

As a superintendent of education, you would be responsible for the supervision of assigned groups of schools (elementary and secondary), as well as for all the support services and resources that are directed to those schools, to ensure their quality and continuous improvement. 


You would participate in the development of the board's policies, plans and programs, and be directly responsible for supporting the implementation of these initiatives in the schools you supervise.



Typical Job Duties

Although your specific duties could vary from job to job, you could expect to be responsible for the following functions in any school superintendent role:


• Ensuring optimum use of school district staff

• Ensuring that school district is staffed with competent people

• Oversee the preparation of news releases and other items of public interest

• Approving media interviews with school district employees

• Ensuring that effective organizational plans, educational programs and services are developed and maintained

• Properly executing the decisions of the school board

• Keeping the School Board informed as to the condition of the District’s educational system

• Preparing School Board meeting agendas

• Maintaining adequate records for the schools, including a system of financial accounts, business and property records, personnel records, school population and academic records

• Submitting to the School Board a clear and detailed explanation of any proposed procedure that would involve either departure from established policy or the expenditure of substantial sums



Salary for School Superintendents

The salary level you could earn as a superintendent can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your professional qualifications (your level of relevant education, experience, etc.)

• The size and budget of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties and functions

• The type of remuneration package you are offered (such as if you are entitled to bonuses, financial benefits, etc.) 


Superintendent Salary in Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadians working in the School Principals and Administrators - Elementary and Secondary occupational group is $81,100 per year.


Superintendent Salary in the United States: According to the United States Government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary level of Americans in the Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School occupational group is $92,940 per year.



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Typical Work Environment 

Working Hours: As a superintendent of schools, you could expect to work normal, weekday working hours. However, because of the heavy workload, overtime would often be required, which could involve going in early, on weekends, or staying late. 


Working Conditions: A large amount of your time would be spent meeting with different stakeholders within your school district: principals, teachers, members of the board of trustees, media reporters, and possibly even parents. There would likely be a significant amount of local travel required in this profession.



Careers Similar to ‘Superintendent’

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or are in the same sector of industry, as Superintendent:


• Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

• Dean

• Elementary School Teacher

• High School Teacher

• Operations Manager

• Principal

• School Administrator

• University President



References for this Career Guide

The following resources were drawn from in the preparation of this How to Become a Superintendent career guide:


• “Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School.” May 2015 edition. U.S. Government - Department of Labor Statistics. Retrieved July 16, 2016.

• “Superintendents of Education.” (n.d.). Peel District School Board. Retrieved July 16, 2016.

• “Becoming a Principal or Superintendent in Texas.” (n.d.). Government of Texas Education Agency. Retrieved July 16, 2016.

• “Job Qualifications for the Superintendent of a School.” Helen Akers, (n.d.). Houston Chronicle. Retrieved July 16, 2016.



Scholarships for Becoming a Superintendent 

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a superintendent. You can search for scholarships matched to that/those fields of study on the following pages:


Education Scholarships

Political Science Scholarships 


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Superintendent: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful (or necessary) for becoming a superintendent. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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