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Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School Career Overview

Plan, direct, or coordinate the academic, clerical, or auxiliary activities of public or private elementary or secondary level schools.

Salary for Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School

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U.S. $68,360
Annual figures are on top. Hourly figures are below in parentheses.
N/A = Information not available

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Career Outlook for Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School

Employment is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job opportunities should be excellent due to a large number of expected retirements and fewer applicants for some positions.

Employment change. Employment of education administrators is expected to grow by about 8 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Expected growth is primarily the result of growth in enrollments of school-aged children. Enrollment of students in elementary and secondary schools is expected to grow relatively slowly over the next decade, limiting the growth of principals and other administrators in these schools. However, the number of administrative positions will continue to increase as more administrative responsibilities are placed on individual schools, particularly with regard to monitoring student achievement. Preschool and child care center administrators are expected to experience substantial growth because of increasing enrollments in formal child care programs as fewer young children are cared for in private homes. In addition, as more States implement or expand public preschool programs, more preschool directors will be needed.

The number of students at the postsecondary level is projected to grow more rapidly than other student populations. Many of these schools cater to working adults who might not ordinarily participate in postsecondary education. Such schools allow students to earn a degree, receive job-specific training, or update their skills in a convenient manner, such as through part-time programs or distance learning. As the number of these schools continues to grow, more administrators will be needed to oversee them.

Job prospects. Job opportunities should be excellent due to a large number of expected retirements and fewer applicants for some positions. Principals and assistant principals should have excellent job prospects because a sharp increase in responsibilities in recent years has made the job more stressful and has discouraged some teachers from taking positions in administration. Principals are now being held more accountable for the performance of students and teachers, while at the same time they are required to adhere to a growing number of government regulations. In addition, overcrowded classrooms, safety issues, budgetary concerns, and teacher shortages in some areas are creating additional stress for administrators. Many teachers feel that the increase in pay for becoming an administrator is not high enough to compensate for the greater responsibilities.

Opportunities may vary by region of the country. Enrollments are expected to increase the fastest in the West and South, where the population is growing faster, and to decline or remain stable in the Northeast and the Midwest. School administrators also are in greater demand in rural and urban areas, where pay is generally lower than in the suburbs.

Fewer applicants are expected for nonacademic administrative jobs, such as director of admissions or director of student affairs. Furthermore, many people are discouraged from seeking administrator jobs by the requirement that they have a master's or doctoral degree in education administration—as well as by the opportunity to earn higher salaries in other occupations.

Employment Overview

Education administrators held about 445,400 jobs in 2008. Of these, about 58,900 were held by preschool or child care administrators, about 230,600 by elementary or secondary school administrators, and 124,600 by postsecondary administrators. The great majority—more than 81 percent—worked in public or private educational institutions. Most of the remainder worked in child day care centers.

Job Zone Description

Job Zone 5 - Extensive preparation

Overall Experience
Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of medical school and up to an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to do their job.

At a minimum, a bachelor's degree is required for these occupations. However, many also require a graduate school degree such as a Master's, Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).

Job Training
Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations require that you already have the necessary skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Lawyers, instrumental musicians, physicists, counseling psychologists, and surgeons.

These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising or managing the activities of others. Very advanced communication and organization skills are required.

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Additional Resources for Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School Job Seekers

For information on principals, contact:

  • The National Association of Elementary School Principals, 1615 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314-3483. Internet:
  • The National Association of Secondary School Principals, 1904 Association Dr., Reston, VA 20191-1537. Internet:

For a list of nationally recognized programs in elementary and secondary educational administration, contact:

For information on collegiate registrars and admissions officers, contact:

  • American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, One Dupont Circle NW., Suite 520, Washington, DC 20036-1171. Internet:

For information on professional development and graduate programs for college student affairs administrators, contact:

  • NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, 1875 Connecticut Ave. NW., Suite 418, Washington, DC 20009. Internet:

For information on the National Administrator Credential for child care directors, contact:

  • National Child Care Association, 1325 G St NW., Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005. Internet:

For information on the Child Development Associate Credential, contact:

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