Educational leadership is a thriving and growing field due to the focus on school improvement. Good educational leaders have always been valued, but today’s assistant principal, principal, or curriculum director must also consider the implications of federal and state funding tied to school performance. Educational leadership has become a field populated with those who believe in the value of education but who also have business and managerial knowledge of how to get the best out of teachers and students.
What Degree Does A K-12 Educational Leader Have?
Few educational leaders begin with a degree. First, they must endure the rigors of classroom teaching in order to prepare themselves for the leadership positions they will one day occupy. It is most common for educational leaders to be drawn from classroom teachers who have at least one year of teaching experience. Teachers must have a bachelor’s degree in their field and pass teacher certification tests in order to obtain classroom positions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Once teachers decide to become educational leaders, most pursue master’s degrees in educational leadership. This involves between 27 and 36 semester hours of study in the field of educational leadership and leads to a Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership. Many colleges that offer teaching degrees also have master’s programs for educational leadership.
Of course, this is not the only path to educational leadership. Some educational leaders, such as department heads or head coaches, are simply promoted after several years of service in the field. However, without a master’s degree, most educational leaders cannot hope to attain the assistant principal or principal jobs that define the field and pay the best salaries.
How Much Do K-12 Educational Leaders Earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for educational leadership or administrative positions is $87,470. The lowest-paid professionals earn a median salary of $58,600 and the highest-paid earn more than $128,660.
The pay you receive as an educational leader will depend largely on your degree, the number of years you have worked, and the setting in which you work. Educational leaders or administrators who have spent many years in the field and work at large public schools can expect to earn more than those who are administrators in small private schools. Furthermore, leaders with a doctorate rather than a master’s degree will find that they are usually better paid. Many school systems have a pay scale that factors educational level and number of years worked into your base salary. Some school systems also offer stipend or cost-of-living adjustments that increase teacher and administrator salaries.
What Is the Job Outlook for K-12 Educational Leaders?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for elementary and high school principals and assistant principals will grow by 10 percent over the next ten years. More job opportunities will be available at the elementary level, although many job openings are found in failing schools or those located in urban environments.
Educational leaders can often move up within a school system. An assistant principal may become a principal, and a principal may move into a central office job overseeing several schools at once. In this way, teachers and administrators who want to improve their salaries and professional job abilities can stay in the same system and gain promotions through hard work and training.
Educational leadership is not an easy field, but it is one filled with great personal satisfaction. Those who choose this field should love helping children learn and should be able to work with adults as well.