A principal’s day begins with greeting students in the morning. The rest of the day is spent visiting classrooms, meeting parents, and making sure the needs of students and teachers are met. At night, they might support students by attending a school play or football game before heading home and starting again the next day.  

The job of a school principal is unlike any other, but you already knew that, didn’t you? Chances are you’re a teacher who’s had their eye on the role of assistant principal or principal for some time, but you’re not sure if it’s the right fit for you. We’re here to tell you that enrolling in a preparation program, earning your Principal as Instructional Leader certification, and becoming a school leader is 100% worth it.  

Make a Difference 

The number one reason why teachers transition to leadership roles is to have more control over key administrative decisions. As an assistant principal or principal, you’ll oversee all school operations and:  

  • Allocate resources where they’re needed most. 
  • Collaborate with parents and community members. 
  • Foster a safe, supportive learning environment. 
  • Support and help teachers grow as professionals.  

Above all else, principals promote a shared vision of student success. Traditionally, principals were seen as little more than school managers, but this role has evolved over the past few decades, and many principals are now student advocates who set high standards and help young learners achieve their full potential.  

The Profound Effect Principals Have on Students 

Commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, a recent review looked at over 20 years of data involving over 22,000 principals to determine the connection between leadership and learning. Turns out, principals have a far greater and broader impact on the student experience than previously thought. Researchers found that effective principals have nearly as large an impact on student achievement as similarly effective teachers, largely through their hiring, development, and support of teachers.  

Teachers are essential to student achievement, but their reach is often limited to a single classroom. Principals affect every student in every classroom on campus. “Principals really matter,” concluded researchers. “Indeed, it is difficult to envision an investment with a higher ceiling on its potential return than a successful effort to improve principal leadership.”  

Advance Your Career 

Elementary, middle, and high school principals earn an average median salary of $98,420, with top earners making over $153,520 per year. The chance to earn a six-figure salary while making a difference in students’ lives is enough of an incentive for most educators to pursue their principal certification, but the real financial reward may come long after a principal has left their mark on a campus.  

Ensure a Cushy Retirement  

Here in Texas, educators are part of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). Working for TRS-covered institutions, educators contribute a percentage of their salary toward retirement: 8% as of September 1st, 2021.  

As a Texas educator, you already make monthly contributions to TRS. You may even be well on your way to reaching your retirement goals. Unfortunately, Texas’ pension plans for educators leave a lot to be desired. Payments are not automatically adjusted for inflation, so inflation will erode the value of your pension with each passing year. Becoming an assistant principal or principal can significantly increase your annual salary, thereby boosting your retirement savings. This way, when you do crack open your nest egg, you’ll have enough saved to sustain your lifestyle.  

Rise to the Challenge 

Anyone familiar with the role of school principal knows how challenging it can be. A principal’s days are filled with incredible highs — watching students make significant academic gains — and incredible lows — realizing a student isn’t receiving the support they need at home. Most days are a mix of predictable and chaotic moments.  

John King Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Education, described the job of school principal as an “exercise in love.” As the heart of their community, school principals form connections with students, parents, and teachers, celebrating their successes and sharing in their struggles. This is part of what makes the role of principal so demanding, but it’s also what makes it so rewarding. Something as simple as letting a student know that they’re cared for can be enough to make a difference in a young learner’s life.  

Earning your Principal as Instructional Leader certification and stepping into the role of school leader won’t be easy, but if you’re up to the challenge, you’ll find a rewarding career like no other.   

Become a School Leader Through UT Permian Basin  

The University of Texas Permian Basin offers an online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership designed for aspiring K-12 principals. This program helps professionals meet the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) principal certification requirements, which include earning a master’s degree, and prepare for the certification exams. (Aspiring principals outside of Texas should confirm with their state agency whether our program meets their state’s eligibility requirements.)  

UT Permian Basin offers far more than a preparation program, however.  

Our online MA in educational leadership program will introduce you to the diverse responsibilities of a school principal. Composed of online and practicum courses, our program will take you on an exploration of the theoretical aspects of the principalship while letting you apply what you’ve learned in a real-world setting. If you’re interested in taking on the role of school principalship, meeting the requirements isn’t enough; you need the knowledge and experience to inspire your students, teachers, and community.  

Eligible candidates can graduate in as little as one year with everything you need to make a difference in your life and the lives of your students. Apply now to our online MA in educational leadership program to get started.