How do I Become an Elementary School Principal?

G. Wiesen

To become an elementary school principal, you will want to receive a degree in education, or primary education specifically, and perhaps work as a teacher. You may not need to actually work as a teacher, though this is somewhat unusual, as being a teacher in a classroom is often the first step toward becoming a principal. Once you have your degree, you should look for opportunities to work with administrators and members of your local school board, both to get noticed and gain experience as an administrator. You can then watch for opportunities for promotions to a vice principal position, which is typically seen as training to become an elementary school principal.

Two young boys
Two young boys

Though there are a number of different ways you could become an elementary school principal, one of the best ways to begin is by receiving a degree in education. This means you will likely need to receive a high school diploma or equivalent certificate, and then be received at a college or university that offers an education program. You will typically only need a bachelor’s degree in primary education to become an elementary school teacher, but to become an elementary school principal you may want to go further with your education.

A master’s degree in education, often with a bachelor’s degree in primary education, can help you become an elementary school principal. You may find it easier to begin working as a teacher with only a bachelor’s degree, however, so you may want to begin teaching and work on your master’s degree while you are a teacher. Some schools may be willing to hire principals who do not have experience as a teacher, but do have extensive educational background in education, though this can often be a more difficult route. Once you receive your education degree, you will likely need further certification to enable you to legally teach in the country or region in which you wish to teach.

Teaching primary education is often the next step to become an elementary school principal, and you should watch for opportunities to work with administrators and the school board in your district. Not all teachers wish to become principals, so it is worthwhile to indicate your desire to move in that direction. You should watch for and apply to vice principal positions at the school you are teaching at or other schools in your district. This is often the preceding step to become an elementary school principal. Once you have several years of experience as a vice principal, you should then look for schools in need of principals and apply for such positions.

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