How to Become an

Assistant Principal

The complete career guide to be an Assistant Principal: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $92,940
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 5.8%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Assistant principals, or vice principals, hold the second-highest leadership positions in schools. They enable execution of directives from the principal and work with teachers, students, and community members to resolve issues, maintain a thriving learning environment, and support school initiatives.

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What is an Assistant Principal?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in assistant principal roles:

  • Serve as secondary leader—in support of the principal, students, staff, and teachers—at elementary, middle, and high schools
  • Create schedules and supervise staff to create an ideal learning environment for students
  • Handle disciplinary issues and encourage students to take responsibility for actions
  • Serve as a primary face of the school at community events and functions
  • Create and implement new programs in conjunction with the principal and other teachers, staff members, or parent/community volunteers

A Day in the Life

The role of assistant principal is one of support, so the day-to-day responsibilities can vary greatly. Assistant principals work with every individual connected to their school. They work with students to resolve issues, work with teachers to enable an environment and policies that support learning, work with staff to support initiatives and enable effective daily processes, and work with members of the community to support the school and implement new programs and initiatives.

Assistant principals may be responsible for setting standards for students, teachers, and staff members and evaluating individuals in each group to ensure standards are met. They will work with the principal to recruit, interview, and hire new teachers and staff members and may be responsible for setting individual schedules for school employees. Assistant principals also work with the principal to set annual goals for the school and monitors progress towards meeting those goals throughout the school year.

In the community, the vice principal makes public appearances to speak on behalf of the school and the principal when they principal is unable to attend. He/she may conduct presentations to secure funding for initiatives or to present the school favorably to the community at large. Assistant principals also work with parents and volunteers to ensure students are reaching their full potential and to resolve issues when disciplinary issues occur or issues persist without resolution.

Typical Work Schedule

While the typical work schedule for vice principals consists of daytime hours and weekdays, assistant principals may frequently need to attend community events in the evenings outside of school hours. Additionally, while the assistant principal does not have to work with students over the summer, he/she may have ongoing administrative work over the summer break to prepare for the upcoming school year.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Elementary, Middle, or High School Teacher
  • Mid-Career: Assistant Principal
  • Late Career: Principal, Instructional Coordinator, Superintendent

Typical Employers

Assistant principals that serve at public schools work for state or local governments. Private schools may also hire vice principals, and these individuals work for private or parochial organizations.

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How To Become an Assistant Principal

To become an assistant principal, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree. The type of bachelor’s degree earned should be focused on the grade level—and potentially the subject—you want to focus on. To teach in a public school, you’ll also need to become licensed or certified to teach in your state. A state-issued license or certification may not be necessary to teach in a private school, but earning licensure will enable you to qualify for positions in both the public and private sectors.

Before qualifying for a vice principal position, you’ll need several years of experience as a teacher. Additionally, you’ll need to earn a master’s degree in educational administration and leadership. Since most states require teachers to engage in continuing education to maintain a teaching license, many teachers with goals of becoming a vice principal work towards earning the needed master’s degree by fulfilling their continuing education requirements.

After earning a master’s degree, assistant principals may also need to pass a licensing exam for school administration. Again, this is a general requirement for public schools but may not be required for private schools. However, once you’ve earned a master’s degree and license, you should not need to pursue additional degrees to later become a principal—only experience will be required to move into that role. Becoming a superintendent, on the other hand, may require pursuit of a doctoral degree.

Assistant Principal Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Assistant Principal salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Assistant Principal's can make an average annual salary of $92,940, or --- per hour. On the lower end, they can make $72,380 or --- per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #88 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Highest Education Among Assistant Principals

  • 13.2%   Doctorate
  • 44.8%   Masters
  • 23.5%   Bachelors
  • 5%   Associates
  • 8%   College
  • 4.6%   High School
  • 0.7%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Assistant Principal job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 14,000 jobs for a total of 254,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 5.8% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #390 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Assistant Principals

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Elementary and secondary schools; local 187,400 11,000 11%
Elementary and secondary schools; private 37,500 2,300 2%
Self-employed workers 5,100 200 0%

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