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Head Teacher

Education and Training: College, graduate school, School Administrator license
Average Salary: $91,575 per year
Job Outlook: Excellent

Head teachers, also referred to as principals, school administrators, or education administrators, make many of the important decisions for a school. They are responsible for training and managing the staff, working with faculty members to develop the curriculum, and managing the day to day operations of the school. They are also expected to monitor students’ progress, prepare budgets, develop academic programs, inspect educational materials, and oversee extracurricular programs. They are expected to become involved with fundraising for the school, while also making sure that the school’s students are able to meet specific academic standards.

Education and Training Requirements

Most head teachers serve as teachers and assistant head teachers before advancing into a head teaching position. Specific educational requirements vary by the type of school, location, and whether it is a public or private school. Elementary, primary, and middle school teachers usually major in Education or one of its associated majors such as Early Childhood Education. High school teachers generally major in the subject they would like to teach while also taking some teaching courses. Head teachers at colleges or universities nearly always have master’s or doctoral degrees. Some head teachers also have doctorate degrees or degrees in Education Administration or other relevant specialized degrees. Education Administration programs typically include courses in school law; curriculum development and evaluation; school leadership; school finance / budgeting; politics in education; community relations; and counseling. Many schools also require their head teachers to be licensed as school administrators.

Getting the Job

While specific job application processes and qualifications vary by the type of institution, there are numerous employment referral websites for teachers and school administrators. Teachers and assistant head teachers often become head teachers through internal promotions. Networking is another excellent way for a teacher to find a position as a head teacher. Prospective head teachers can also contact their local school boards for more information about job vacancies and application procedures.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

The job outlook for head teachers is excellent. While the enrollment of students continues to grow, there is going to be a sharp increase in the number of retirements and fewer applicants for head teacher positions. As head teachers have recently been called upon to take on more responsibilities, a growing number of teachers have chosen not to seek administrative positions due to the added stress and increased workload.

Working Conditions and Environment

Working conditions tend to vary greatly depending on the setting, but head teachers generally describe the position as highly stressful. In recent years, budget constraints have forced head teachers to take on additional responsibilities that were formerly delegated to other staff members.

Salary and Benefits

The annual salary for head teachers varies widely by the type of school, and annual salary averages range from $39,940 for head teachers at preschool and child care programs to $97,486 for high school head teachers and $158,000 for head teachers at colleges or universities. Head teachers at elementary schools have an average annual salary of $85,907 and middle school head teachers make an average of $91,334 per year. Compensation for head teachers also varies by location. Most head teachers enjoy excellent benefit packages that include an average of 4-5 weeks of vacation time each year, in addition to ample health and pension plans.

Where to Go for More Information:

American Association of School Administrators
801 N. Quincy St., Ste. 700
Arlington, VA 22203-1730
(703) 528-0700

American Federation of Teachers
555 New Jersey Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 879-4400

National Association of Elementary School Principals
1615 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
(800) 386-2377

National Education Association
1201 16th St., NW
Washington, DC 20036-3290
(202) 833-4000

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEducation & Training