School Principal Salary: How Much Do They Make?

Principals manage the school’s financial, human, and physical resources. But how much do principals make? Find that out as well as which states pay the best.

Have you ever wondered how much principals make? We often see them leading assemblies, handling disciplinary issues, and managing the school budget, but what is the price tag on all their hard work and dedication? In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the world of school principals and explore how much they make, what factors influence their salaries, and why their job is so important.

Whether you’re a student, parent, or educator, understanding how much principals earn can give you a better appreciation for the value of their contributions to the education system.

School Principal: Overview

A school principal leads the school and is responsible for ensuring that the school is a safe and conducive learning environment for all students. The principal manages the school’s financial, human, and physical resources. They set the tone for the school’s culture and promote a positive and inclusive learning environment.

The principal works with teachers and staff to develop and implement educational programs, curricula, and instructional strategies that align with the school’s mission and goals.

Becoming a school principal typically requires a combination of education and experience. Most principals hold a master’s degree in education, although some may also have a doctoral degree. In addition, principals must possess strong leadership and communication skills, as they are responsible for managing staff, creating policies and procedures, and communicating with parents and community members. Licensure and certification requirements for principals vary by state, so it is crucial to research and understand the specific needs of your region.

How Much Does a School Principal Make?


Being a school principal is challenging. But it can be a financially rewarding career for those who are up for the task. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a school principal in the United States is around $98,420.

In addition to their base salary, principals may receive bonuses or performance-based incentives. However, this can vary greatly depending on the level of education and location. Principals at the elementary and secondary levels tend to earn less than those at the postsecondary level, and salaries can be higher in larger cities or more affluent areas.

Public vs. private school principals

The main difference between public and private school principals is the funding source. Public schools depend on government funding, while private schools rely on tuition fees paid by parents and other private funding sources. As a result, public school principals have more bureaucratic responsibilities and are subject to more regulations and oversight from the government. Private school principals have more autonomy and can decide curriculum, staffing, and budgeting without government interference.

On average, private school principals earn less than their public school counterparts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for public school principals was $98,870 in May 2021, while the median yearly wage for private school principals was $79,780.

10 highest-paying states for principals

The principal compensation may vary depending on the state, region, and local school district. Factors such as cost of living, state budgets, competition for talent, and local education policies can contribute to these salary differences. Moreover, some states may offer higher salaries and more benefits for principals with advanced degrees or experience, while others may not.

As such, the ten highest-paying states for principals are the following:

  • Vermont: $100,143
  • New Jersey: $106,505
  • Delaware: $105,750
  • Washington: $96,351
  • New Hampshire: $93,426
  • New York: $100,934
  • Oregon: $94,171
  • Pennsylvania: $93,819
  • West Virginia: $98,552
  • Maryland: $95,276

What is the worst-paying state for principals?

Regarding school leadership, a principal’s role is crucial and demanding. With responsibilities ranging from overseeing staff to managing budgets and ensuring student success, it is not surprising that principals are compensated for their hard work. However, not all states pay their principals equally. One state stands out as the worst-paying for principals. That state is Hawaii, with an average principal salary of $68,230 annually.

How Much Does an Assistant Principal Make?


An assistant principal is a senior administrator in a school or educational institution who works under the guidance of the principal. They support the principal in managing the school’s day-to-day operations, maintaining a positive school culture, and ensuring that the school complies with federal, state, and local regulations. Some of the critical responsibilities of an assistant principal may include the following:

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Instructional leadership: The assistant principal is responsible for ensuring that the school provides quality instruction that aligns with state standards and meets the needs of diverse learners. They work with teachers to plan and implement instructional programs, evaluate student progress, and provide professional development opportunities for staff.

Student discipline: The assistant principal helps maintain a safe and orderly school environment by enforcing discipline policies and procedures and supporting students experiencing behavioral or social-emotional challenges.

Staff supervision: The assistant principal works closely with the principal to provide guidance and support to teachers, support staff, and other school personnel. They may also conduct performance evaluations and facilitate professional development opportunities for staff.

School operations: The assistant principal helps manage the day-to-day operations of the school, including overseeing budgets, managing facilities and resources, and ensuring that the school complies with state and federal regulations.

Other responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Community engagement
  • Special programs
  • Emergency preparedness

The salary of an assistant principal can vary depending on the school’s location and size. On average, they make around $94,100 per year. However, their salary can go up to $110,000 annually in some larger districts or high-income areas.

School Principal Job Outlook

The job outlook for school principals varies by location and school district. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation of elementary, middle, and high school principals will grow 5% from 2021 to 2031, as fast as the average for all occupations.

As the population continues to grow, so will the demand for schools and the need for principals to manage them. However, budget constraints may limit the number of job opportunities available. Additionally, competition for principal positions can be intense, as many experienced educators seek leadership roles. Those with advanced degrees, experience in teaching and administration, and strong leadership skills will have the best chances of securing employment as school principals.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, the role of a principal is crucial in any educational institution, and their remuneration should reflect their contribution. While the amount of money principals make varies depending on the location, the type of school, and the level of experience, it is clear that they play a vital role in shaping the future of young minds.

By understanding the factors that influence principals’ salaries, policymakers can take steps that ensure adequate compensation for their work.

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