How to Become a

School Administrator

The complete career guide to be a School Administrator: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $82,970
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Good Entry Level Salary
    Career Attribute

School administrators are individuals who oversee academic and student affairs at daycares, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. They’re responsible for some facet of operations within a school and are leaders who aim to achieve excellence in education within an institution.

Recommended Schools

What is a School Administrator?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in school administrator roles:

  • Recruit, hire and train staff, teachers, and other faculty members
  • Ensure schools adhere to any federal, state, and local regulations
  • Help establish curriculums, programs, and classes to benefit students and meet education goals
  • Manage budgets, set schedules, and oversee school operations

A Day in the Life of a School Administrator

In daycare facilities, school administrators oversee preschool and other educational programs. When preschools and daycares are funded by federal or state Head Start programs, school administrators are required to ensure programs meet regulatory and educational standards set by those programs. They also hire staff to teach preschoolers and monitor children during non-educational, daycare-only hours. They also manage facility budgets and allocate funds to programs designed to help meet school goals.

In elementary, middle, and high schools, school administrators usually serve in vice principal, principal, or superintendent roles. These school administrators are leaders who ensure that all people who interact with the school—students, parents, teachers, staff, etc.—have the tools needed to achieve success. They manage and set curriculums, set school goals, oversee operational processes, and report school and district progress to the community and school board.

The day-to-day responsibilities of a school administrator may require working with multiple different types of people and managing a variety of tasks. They may assist with student disciplinary issues or consult with parents when questions are asked or concerns need to be addressed. They establish professional development opportunities for staff members and step in when disagreements arise. They also serve as the face of their schools to community members, school boards, and government officials.

Typical Work Schedule for School Administrators

Most school administrator jobs are full-time roles. Administrators work daytime, weekday hours and are off on major holidays. Unlike teaching positions, school administrators work 12 months a year and spend summers preparing for the upcoming school year.

School Administrator Specializations

  • Preschool administrators manage all educational and organizational aspects of a preschool or daycare facility.
  • Vice principals assist principals with operational and educational tasks in elementary, middle, and high schools.
  • Principals are the overall leaders of an individual elementary, middle, or high school and are accountable for all aspects of running a school that lead to the successful education of students.
  • Superintendents Oversee multiple elementary, middle, and high schools in a district and work closely with a school board to present initiatives on behalf of schools, teachers, and students.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Teacher, Assistant Principal
  • Mid-Career: Principal, Instructional Coordinator
  • Late Career: Superintendent, School Board Member

Typical work schedule

School administration requires constant attention and supervision of different aspects of the school which means that administrators have to follow full-time working schedules with 40 hours per week. They occasionally need to work extra hours on evenings or weekends to meet parents and other community members as well as to attend different school events like concerts and sports competitions. On average, school they work more than 60 hours per week particularly in communities with high prevalence of poverty where there are more problems to solve and handle. The range of tasks will vary depending on the size and budget of the school or college. School administrators have to work during the summer as well as other vacations in order to supervise the buildings’ maintenance, hiring staff members, training as well as ordering supplies. However, the workload is usually lower during the vacations compared to the school days. In some instances, school principles are involved in police investigations particularly related to domestic violence or child abuse.

Projected job growth

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of school administrators is expected to grow by at least 4 % between 2019 and 2020. This rate is similar to the average of other jobs and this rate will be affected by student enrollment and number of new educational institutes to be established. School administration is a managerial level position which means that it is mostly not a vacancy available to fresh graduates. Yet, if you are interested in such position, then you will have to equip yourself with the necessary skills and certifications especially in management, leadership and education.

Typical Employers

There are currently around 100,000 public schools and more than 35,000 private schools in the US. These are the main employers for school administrators. There are some differences in the work between public and private schools including the process for hiring staff. Additionally, working in public schools is usually more financially rewarding compared to private schools. School administrators can move at some point of their careers to a position at the Department of Education or other higher administrative entities. They can also participate in the curriculum development.

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How To Become a School Administrator

The first step in becoming a school administrator is to become a teacher. To teach, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in education related to the level of school you want to teach—elementary, middle, or high school. Most education degree programs culminate in earning a teaching license, so once you graduate and earn a license, you’ll have the credentials needed to teach in public schools. Most school administrators earn several years of experience as teachers before applying for administrator roles.

At minimum, most vice principal and principal roles also require a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration, so many teachers pursue a graduate degree while also accruing the required experience. With a master’s degree, teachers can then qualify to apply for vice principal roles. Most aspiring principals work as vice principals for several years before actively pursuing principal positions.

A master’s degree may be sufficient to move into principal and superintendent roles if you have a long history of successful service, but a Ph.D. or Ed.D. may be preferred or required. Because it’s difficult to attend school full time while working in an intensive role like principal, many aspiring principals and superintendents choose to earn their doctoral degrees early in their careers while they still have summers off and rarely work overtime.

School Administrator 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

Low Range




High Range


How do School Administrator salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, School Administrator's can make an average annual salary of $82,970, or $40 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $55,390 or $27 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #128 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Highest Education Among School Administrators

  • 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 School Administrator job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 1,500 jobs for a total of 39,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #481 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most School Administrators

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Federal government, excluding postal service 6,200 -600 -1%
Elementary and secondary schools; local 4,600 300 0%
Other schools and instruction; private 4,200 700 1%

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