How To Become a School Administrator in 4 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 16, 2021 | Published July 13, 2021

Updated December 16, 2021

Published July 13, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

School administrators are in charge of the daily management of schools and help students, teachers, school districts and the community. Working in school administration means being involved in helping to shape education policy and procedures. Becoming an administrator for a school can be a rewarding career path if you are interested in making a difference in education and students' lives. In this article, we discuss steps you can take to become an administrator for a school and their daily duties, the average national salary for school administrators and their job outlook.

Related: Leader vs. Administrator: What's the Difference?

What is an administrator for a school?

An administrator for a school is a non-teaching professional who works at almost every educational level managing faculty, staff, facilities and school budgets. Depending on their position, they often oversee the day-to-day functions of a school or school district by directing the programming and curriculum, hiring teachers and making decisions that affect the school community.

There are school administration positions in public and private school settings, from primary through secondary grades and on college campuses. School administration titles can vary depending on the institution, state or district, but general positions include:

  • Principal

  • Vice-principal

  • Assistant principal

  • Superintendent

  • Program director

  • Staff supervisor

  • Admissions counselor

  • Department chairperson

  • Provost

  • Dean of students

  • Dean of admissions

Related: How to Become a College Administrator

What does a school administrator do?

Here is a list of some tasks and duties of those working in the school administration field:

  • Assisting students on their educational journey

  • Creating, setting and carrying out school budgets

  • Providing support to other faculty members

  • Monitoring and maintaining academic records

  • Evaluating the performance of teachers and other members of the faculty

  • Helping to facilitate a safe environment for students and faculty members

  • Managing personnel issues

  • Disciplining students

  • Overseeing various departments of the school or district

  • Managing technology and infrastructure

  • Overseeing and revising the curriculum as needed

  • Meeting and handling relations with parents and other administrators

  • Working on committees, education boards or other governing bodies

  • Assisting with recruitment or alumni relations

  • Organizing educational and social activities

Related: How to Write an Administrative Professional Resume

What are the traits of a successful school administrator?

If you are interested in becoming a successful school administrator, some traits you might develop include:

  • Compassion

  • Empathy

  • Strong attention to detail

  • Strong communication skills

  • Interpersonal skills

  • School policy knowledge

  • Ability to educate

  • Innovation

  • Enthusiasm

  • Collaboration

  • Adaptive

  • Leading by example

  • Active listening

  • Conflict resolution

  • Preparation

What are the benefits of becoming a school administrator?

Here are some benefits of becoming a school administrator:

  • Make a difference in the community: Becoming an administrator for a school can allow you to make a difference in your community and with children through the creation of education policy and curriculum.

  • Learn resource management: While earning your degree in school administration, you will learn a wide variety of skills, such as resource management. This includes managing resources such as people, learning materials, time and budgets. This will not only allow you to be helpful in terms of individual schools or entire districts, but it is also a skill you can apply to your everyday life.

  • Potential for advancemen: Working in school administration could mean opportunities for advancement. For example, you could begin as a high school vice-principal and eventually become a principal, school superintendent or work at a college as a dean or other administrative professional.

  • Opportunity for fast-paced work**:** Becoming a school administrator can be great if you enjoy working in fast-paced, exciting environments. School administration positions may allow you to work on a wide variety of goals and tasks throughout the day. For instance, you may manage budgets, work with a variety of students, help to create or revamp curricula and more.


Someone working in an educational administration position such as a principal, vice-principal or superintendent often earns a national average salary of $97,500 per year and receives full medical and dental health coverage, retirement benefits and more.

Related: Resumes for Principals: Examples and Tips

Job outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the job growth for postsecondary education administrators to grow 4% through 2029, which is the average for most professions. This can change depending on levels of school enrollment rates.

How to become an administrator for a school

To become an administrator for a school, you can follow these steps:

1. Earn your degree

To become a school administrator, you should first earn a college degree. While administration positions typically require a master's degree, some states may allow you to enter the field with a bachelor's. It's common for teachers who would like to become administrators to become certified as an administrator while they are teaching. While pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree, you will learn skills such as:

  • Leadership

  • Financial management

  • Human resource management

  • Curriculum development

2. Get teaching experience

Many schools and school districts require administrative professionals to have at least two to three years of teaching experience. Depending on the degree program you're enrolled in, you may gain some experience as a teaching or classroom assistant while still a student. You can also look for a teacher preparation program that may offer the education and experience you'll need.

3. Get your state licenses

In many states, it's a requirement to be licensed as a teacher for a teaching position, which often requires taking and passing a state licensing board exam. Once you have your teaching license and some teaching experience, you can take a state board of education-approved certification program to become certified as an educational administrator. You may also need to take a leadership assessment test, pass an extensive background check, and possess several years of teaching experience.

4. Apply for positions

Once you have experience and your licenses, you can search for open school administration positions in the state for which you are certified. You can do this by checking job websites and networking with other teachers or even contacting individual schools or school districts directly to apply for positions.

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