A high school principal is a manager. She supervises staff, coordinates the daily activities of the school and ensures that students have a safe environment in which to learn. Educated at the master’s degree level, she typically has teaching experience and may need a school administrator's license. Her salary is likely to reflect her location and the size of the school.
Professional Association Data
The National Association of Secondary School Principals conducted a salary survey in 2010. At that time, salaries ranged from $95,003 a year -- the average for junior high/middle level principals -- to the $102,387 a year paid to senior high school principals. The Southwest and Rocky Mountains offered the lowest salaries, while principals in the Mid-East region earned the most. School districts with fewer than 2,500 pupils paid lower salaries than larger districts. The principals in smaller districts earned an average of $87,550 a year, while those in large districts typically earned $100,000 or more a year.
Averages and Work Setting Variations
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which groups elementary and secondary high school principals together for salary purposes, reports the annual average salary was $90,670 a year in 2013. The overall range, however, was $59,010 to $128,110 a year. The vast majority in this occupation worked in schools, where the average annual salary was $90,840 a year. Some worked in other settings, however. In educational support services, the average salary was $80,750 a year, and in state government, the average was $88,110 a year. Local government -- a separate category from school employers -- offered the best pay, at $91,900 a year.
Highs and Lows
Salaries vary considerably from one state to another, according to the BLS. Although West Virginia was the lowest-paying state in 2013, with an average salary of $65,060 a year, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Mississippi were also well below average at $67,850, $70,780 and $72,140, respectively. Of the five top-paying states, Maryland averaged $103,640 a year and Delaware averaged $108,180 a year. The average salary in New York was $111,790 a year, and in Connecticut it was $117,420 a year. New Jersey was the highest-paying state, with an average annual salary of $124,040 a year.
Demand for high school principals will be approximately half the average for all occupations at 6 percent, according to the BLS. Low demand and budgetary restrictions might combine to increase competition for positions, which could negatively affect salaries. Some school districts might also consolidate or close schools. Job opportunities in the South and West are expected to be the best, as student enrollments are likely to grow faster in those areas. Opportunities in the Midwest are unlikely to change much from 2012 to 2022, but the Northeast is expected to have declining enrollment and fewer positions.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Elementary, Middle School and High School Principals
- National Association of Secondary School Principals: 2010 Principal Salary Survey
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 11-9032 Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School
- Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images
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