School principals are responsible for both the short- and long-term operations of elementary and secondary schools nationwide. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for education administrators in elementary and secondary schools was $90,150 in 2010. The requirements to become a school principal vary by state. The Texas State Board of Education determines the requirements for principals in Texas.
To become a principal in Texas, aspiring administrators first must meet the education requirements set for teachers. In Texas, those hoping to become a teacher earn a bachelor's degree and complete a state-approved teacher education program before taking a test for certification. After passing the certification exam, the teacher can work in Texas public schools. Beyond the bachelor's degree, school principals must hold a master's degree in education with a specialization public school administration or a similar area of study.
It is not possible to go straight through your undergraduate and graduate education and step into a school administrator's role in Texas. Instead, aspiring education administrators are required first to put their teaching certificate to use and gain teaching experience. As of the time of publication, the Texas Education Agency requires two years of verifiable experience of classroom teaching before the teacher is eligible for an administrator's certificate.
Before becoming an administrator, the teacher must complete a principal education certification program, which may be part of the coursework for a master's degree in education. For instance, Texas A&M University offers a Master of Education with an emphasis in public school administration. As part of the program, students who complete the degree are eligible to sit for the state exam to obtain their administrator's certificate. A passing score on the exam allows the aspiring administrator to apply for the certificate through the state board of education.
The state principal certification exam is required of all educators who wish to serve as a principal in Texas. As of the time of publication, the exam consists of 110 multiple-choice questions, of which 100 count toward the final score. The exam consists of three primary subject areas: school community leadership, instructional leadership and administrative leadership. The aspiring administrator must score at least 240 out of 300 points to pass.