By Susan Ott
Many teachers who decide to go back to school for an advanced degree to move up the proverbial career ladder into a position as an administrator. Principals and vice principals form the largest group of administrators, but there are other senior jobs involved in the management of a school or district that involve dealing with organizational, procedural and financial decisions.
While not all teachers want to move into this type of work, there are benefits to a job as an administrator for those whose strengths fit the job description. Number one on the list of many who chose this career path is money. Administrators almost always make more money than teachers. Other benefits include: getting out of the classroom to make decisions that affect the whole school, having control over policies you see as beneficial based on your teaching experience, and, for some, getting away from constant interaction with students and becoming more of a business manager instead.
What Degree Do I Need?
Both a master’s degree can often qualify you for a position in administration, though some candidates also get a doctorate before trying this type of career move. It just depends on how much education you already have and how much more you want to earn. While the names of the degrees vary, most contain the words “administration,” “leadership” or “policy” within their descriptions.
Some common master’s and doctorate degrees that can qualify you for administration include:
- M.Ed. Administration
- M.Ed. Education & Public Policy
- M.Ed./Ph.D. Educational Leadership
- M.Ed. Instructional Leadership
- M.Ed. Teacher Leadership
What Courses Will I Take?
It’s important to be aware that almost all school administrators start out as teachers. That’s because it’s necessary to understand the unique challenges of the classroom before you take a position instituting policies that affect teachers and students. When you go through a graduate degree program for administration, however, the courses are usually a hybrid of educational policy & practice topics mixed with courses you’d find in a business management program.
Also be aware that most states require public school principals to have a school administrator license in addition to the proper degree(s). This is not something you earn during your master’s or doctoral program; rather, you must get tested separately by the state to earn your license. Some states require supervised on-the-job training as well. Private school principals usually do not have to meet this additional requirement. Even though it’s not a part of your coursework, your school advisor should be able to guide you through exactly which steps to take.
Your courses for this type of degree will most likely include variations of the following:
- School Leadership
- Educational Finance
- Education Law
- History of Education
- Curriculum Development and Improvement
- Educational Management (both business & financial)
- Cross Cultural/Racial Instructional Evaluation
- Educational Technology
- Instructional/Teacher Supervision