How to Become a School Administrator

How to Become a School Administrator

The best path for becoming a school administrator, is to gain experience as a teacher or and earn a master’s degree in education, educational leadership, or educational administration. 


Being a school administrator would involve planning and developing instructional methods and content, setting school performance goals and objectives, and recruiting, developing and supervising teachers and support staff.


This career offers excellent pay, as well as social environment, challenging and rewarding work, and no two days that are ever the same. So, if becoming a school administrator 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 Needed 

To become a school administrator, you typically need a master’s degree in education administration or education leadership. The specific requirements however, are determined at the discretion of the school division or employment authority.


Such programs will train you to lead teachers, manage budgets, set and reach educational goals for your school(s), and to work with students' families and the community. 




What is a School Administrator?

The term “School Administrator” is a blanket term that refers to professionals working in the following occupations:


• Board of education administrator

• Director of education for correctional institutions

• District school superintendent

• Elementary or secondary school principal or vice-principal 

• Headmaster/mistress of a private school

• Superintendent of elementary schools or secondary schools

• Superintendent of special education



Experience You'll Need

Some school administrators go right into the job out when they have completed a master’s program. Most employers however, will require that you have some experience teaching, or experience in some kind of educational administration capacity, before taking on an administrative job of higher responsibility. 


For example, it’s not uncommon for working teachers to pursue a master’s degree in education administration, and move into a low-level or even high-level administrative role during their course of study, or upon completion of their studies. 



Skills & Competencies Needed to Become Successful 

To be successful as a school administrator, you need certain skills… but these skills don’t come overnight. While you’re working in teaching or administrative roles of lesser responsibility, try to hone the following skills, they will be crucial in a career as a school administrator:


• A deep understanding of curriculum, instruction, and assessment

• Excellence in teaching and school leadership

• Awareness of how to improve student achievement through improvement initiatives

• The ability to advocate for the school in the community 

• The ability to lead, support and motivate teachers and other staff and faculty members

• The ability to build relationships with students, parents and educators



Who Creates Jobs for School Administrators?

As a school administrator, you could potentially be employed by any of the following types of organizations and institutions:


• Public or private elementary, middle or high schools

• School boards

• Government agencies, such as the Ministry of Education

• Other government departments, such as Corrections 

• School districts



Is This Career Right for You?

You should have the following attributes if you wish to become a school administrator:


• Effective interpersonal skills, negotiating skills and assertiveness

• The ability to delegate tasks and supervise others

• Willingness to take responsibility for the overall success of the school(s)

• Dependability, strong values and ethics

• Very well organized and able to competently handle a large workload

• Able to pass a criminal record check and child abuse registry check







Details of the Profession: General Job Description

As a school administrator, you would be responsible for planning and coordinating the academic and clerical activities of a public or private elementary, middle or secondary school. 



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 administrator role:


• Recruiting, developing and supervising teachers and support staff

• Setting school performance goals and objectives

• Conferring with teachers to ensure curriculum standards are being met

• Assisting in the development and distribution of promotional materials related to the school and its programs

• Directing the work activities of school faculty and support staff

• Reviewing and evaluating existing academic and auxiliary programs

• Reviewing and approving proposals for new programs

• Overseeing the evaluation of students

• Enforcing attendance and behavioural rules

• Advocating for the upgrading or remodeling of the school 

• Planning and developing instructional methods and content for educational, vocational, or student activity programs



Salary for School Administrators

The salary level you could earn as a school administrator 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, benefits, etc.) 


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.


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 school administrator, 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: Working as a school administrator would be ideal if you like diversity in your work, a fast pace, large and demanding workloads, and you can work through continuous interruptions. As you would be in a position of responsibility, much of your day would involve communicating with teachers, students, parents, community members and other stakeholders.



Careers Similar to ‘School Administrator’

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 School Administrator:


• Administrative Officer

• Director of University of Admissions

• Elementary School Teacher

• Curriculum Director

• Principal

• Superintendent

• University President



References for this Career Guide

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



Wages & Salaries in Alberta:School principals and administrators of elementary and secondary education.” (March 28, 2013). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

Occupational Employment and Wages: Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School.” (March 29, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

Promotions:What Do You Need to Be a School Administrator?.” Jennifer Alyson (n.d.). Houston Chronicle website. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

Explore Careers:School business manager.” (n.d.) National Careers Service website. Retrieved January 13, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a School Administrator 

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a school administrator. You can search for scholarships matched to that/those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


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 School Administrator: Applicable Majors

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


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