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What is Principal Certification?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 10 June 2018
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Principal certification is a type of education credential that qualifies a person to hold an administrative position at a school. Sometimes, this type of program is called a school administrator certification program or even a school leadership certification program. The certification program is usually specific to an area, such as a state, so it is important to get certified in the state in which one intends to become a principal. Primarily, principal certification is for people who are already established teachers in an area and who are considering taking on an advanced position.

Most educational facilities use some type of additional certification to qualify capable teachers for positions of leadership. Principal certification is the type of program used for the head of a school, although it may also qualify a person to assume more advanced leadership positions, such as that of superintendent. Completion of certification does not guarantee a job, but having certification is usually necessary in order to be considered for a job. People who attend principal certification courses must already be qualified teachers and possess a master's degree or other equivalent certification.

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Areas that require this type of certification usually have different principal certification programs that are offered through local colleges. The curriculum used for these courses may differ, but generally includes instruction in school finance, supervision, and an overview of duties specific to being a principal. Many programs are designed to be completed in a year, although some do take longer, and the amount of time a person can commit to a program will make a difference in how long it takes. Some programs require fieldwork or an internship as a graduation requirement.

A person in this type of program should be prepared to learn about business aspects of leading a school as well as theoretical aspects. Depending on the program, one may be expected to understand these areas in detail. Most people find that a good certification program provides excellent preparation for actual work as a principal. If possible, it is always best to attend a more prestigious program than an easier one, as this program may play a role in whether one is eventually hired for a job.

In the competitive world of teaching, having any additional certification can only be a positive feature. Even so, it may be worth considering whether one has a reasonable chance of ever taking on a leadership position. Some people are much better suited to teaching than leading others, and one might even miss being in a classroom. Consideration of one's personal goals should be a major factor when deciding whether to invest in principal certification.

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