School Administrator: Educational Requirements

School administrators work in every level of education. They may direct programming, hire and supervise staff, manage budgets and make decisions that affect the academic community. They are also in charge of developing a direction and mission for the facility at which they work.

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Educational Requirements

While most school administrators begin their careers in the educational system as teachers, counselors or librarians, the degrees that they earn prior to administration varies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most educational professionals with a desire to rise in the hierarchy get a master's or doctoral degree in education (

Graduate Programs

Degree programs are offered at various levels and under different titles, including Master of School Administration, Master of Education in Administration, Master Arts in Education Administration and Doctor of Education in Education administration. In combination with these programs, or as separate options, students may also complete post-baccalaureate or post-master's certificate programs that can prepare them for state certification as school administrators.

Admission to graduate programs generally requires that the applicant has a few years of experience in the school system in addition to an undergraduate degree from an accredited university. Once accepted, students frequently have a choice of specialization in the areas such as K-12, higher education, non-school setting or public education leadership.

Typical coursework in these programs can include strategic planning, teacher recruitment, school laws, instructional leadership, school finance, organizational theory and school-community relations. Fieldwork experiences are also part of most graduate program requirements, and these experiences may result in a portfolio documenting that work.

Other Requirements

Beyond requiring a master's or doctoral degree, each state has a credentialing or licensing process that school administrators must complete. Additionally, many administrators receive on-the-job training with a mentor.

Once employed, school administrators have many ethical obligations. These education professionals are responsible for reporting suspected abuse as well as reaching out to students with physical, psychological or emotional issues.

Occupational Outlook and Salary

Job opportunities for elementary, middle and secondary school administrators are expected to grow slower than average by 6% from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS. Statistics from the BLS indicated that preschool and childcare center administrators earned a median annual salary of $44,890 in 2013, while elementary and secondary school administrators earned a median annual salary of $88,380. Postsecondary education administrators earned a median annual salary of $87,410 during the same year.

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