Principals of public elementary, middle or high schools and private schools must earn a master's degree in education leadership or education administration. Most principals also have teaching experience prior to taking on the leadership position at a school.
- Earn a bachelor's degree in education or related discipline
Complete a bachelor's degree program in education or a related field offered by an accredited university or college. Most students must earn a bachelor's degree to gain acceptance into an education leadership or education administration master's degree program.
- Earn a master's degree in education leadership or education administration
Complete a master's degree program offered by an accredited university or college. Programs typically include coursework in creating and managing budgets, leadership and team building, teacher and staff evaluations, staff management and working with parents.
- Gain employment as a teacher
Apply for teaching positions in specific areas of expertise to gain experience working in a school environment. Many schools prefer to hire principals with teaching experience. Earn a state teaching license or certification by passing state exams.
- Apply for a state school administrator license
Pass a state school administrator licensing exam prior to applying for school principal positions. Private schools do not have state licensing requirements. Complete continuing education coursework to maintain this license. In most states, principals must also pass a criminal background check.