How to Become a Principal: From Educator to Leader

Suppose you are an educator who loves teaching and wants to make a bigger impact on your school and community. If you’re looking for the next step in your career journey, becoming a principal might be the way to go. Let’s learn how to become a principal.

As a principal, you’ll be at the heart of the school, guiding learning programs, supporting staff, nurturing students, and forging connections with the community. However, becoming a principal is not an easy task. It requires a lot of dedication, preparation, and skills.

As you progress towards becoming a principal, remember that the experience you gain as an educator is invaluable. Teaching in a classroom setting helps you hone your teaching skills and classroom management techniques while fostering meaningful connections with students and parents.

In this EDU Blog, we will explain how to become a principal and what skills and qualities you need to succeed.

If you want more EDU Hacks on how to develop your career in the education industry, check out our other EDU Blog!

What are the Requirements to Be a Principal?

Becoming a principal is an amazing and fulfilling career choice. A principal is the heart of a school, who guides the learning programs, staff, students, and community connections.

To achieve this goal, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field. Moreover, you also need a teaching license, and several years of teaching experience. You should also have a master’s degree in educational leadership or administration, and ace a certification exam in most states.

Some principals may also go for a doctoral degree or other advanced credentials to boost their skills and knowledge.

How to Become a Principal

How to become a principal? This goal requires a combination of education, experience, and certification. The exact requirements may vary by state, country, and type of school. But generally, the following steps are involved:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field.

  • Gain teaching experience in a classroom setting, usually for at least three to five years.

  • Complete a state-approved principal preparation program that includes course work, fieldwork, and an internship.

  • Pass the required exams and background checks to get a principal license or certification in your state.

Finally, apply for principal positions and undergo a competitive hiring process. The process may include interviews, assessments, and portfolio reviews.

How Can an Educator Become a Principal?

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Education  

To become a principal, start by earning a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field. This will provide you with the basic knowledge and skills to teach effectively and grasp the educational system.

Furthermore, you must have two things: a teaching license or certification in your state, and some practical experience. You can get the license or certification by passing exams that test your knowledge and skills. Meanwhile, you can get the experience by teaching in a real classroom.

Step 2: Gain Teaching Experience  

Next, you should focus on gaining valuable teaching experience in the classroom. To become a principal, you need an administrative license or certification. This usually requires teaching experience. Different states have different requirements. Some states ask for three years of teaching experience. Others ask for five years or more.

This practical experience has many benefits. You can improve your teaching skills and classroom management techniques. Moreover, you can build strong connections with students and parents. You can also learn from the daily challenges and opportunities educators encounter.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Principal?

The time it takes to become a principal depends on several factors. One of them is the length and quality of your education and training programs. Another factor is the availability of job openings in your field of interest. A third factor is your personal goals and preferences, such as your values, skills, and passions.

These factors can help you narrow down your options and find the best fit for you.

A typical timeline for becoming a principal could look something like this:

  • Three to four years to complete a bachelor’s degree

  • Three to five years to gain teaching experience

  • Two to three years to complete a master’s degree or higher

  • One to two years to complete a principal preparation program

  • A few months to obtain a license or certification and apply for jobs

Therefore, depending on your path and circumstances, how to become a principal can take 10 to 14 years or more.

Key Insights about How to Become a Principal

If you aspire to be a principal, you need to know what it takes. Being a principal is not just a promotion, but a different role that demands passion, commitment, preparation, and skills.

You can also benefit from the guidance and support of other principals, mentors, coaches, or professional associations. Answering the question “how to become a principal” can be tough, but necessary for educators who want to lead and serve their schools and communities.

To get more useful tips and hacks in the education industry, subscribe to EDU Passport. We also have various job opportunities for you to enhance your teaching adventure!

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