Becoming an education administrator, such as a principal, may generally result in a pay bump from a position as a teacher. Yet, like most jobs, a principal salary may vary by tens of thousands of dollars based on numerous variables.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sets the annual median wage of principals at $87,760, with a projected job growth of 6 percent through 2022.[i] This may serve as a baseline understanding of what to expect as a principal. Consider all of the variables, however, before making any assumptions about salary. Your educational background can be a key factor on your starting salary as a principal, but experience, too, serves as a determining influence that only becomes more valuable over time. Another weighty component is the state you choose to teach in, as economy, job availability, funding and taxes all play a role in the setting of employed persons' salaries. You can even get more geographically specific, with the type of community also influencing pay.
Other factors include whether you choose to teach at a public or private school, the socioeconomic status of the children, and even the religious affiliation of the institution. All of these variables have been captured by the 2011-12 National Center for Education Statistics School and Staffing Survey. The data gives an unparalleled view into what principals can expect in terms of salary as well as job outlook.
Public vs. private
In general, public school principals earn a higher salary than their private school counterparts, according to the Schools and Staffing Survey.[ii] The average annual salary of a public school principal is about $25,000 more than a private school administrator. As a principal gains more experience, his or salary will increase by a roughly equivalent rate, whether in the private or public sector.ii Even more interestingly, depending on the religious affiliation of the private school, salaries vary even further, with Baptist principals making the least amount and non-sectarians making the most.[iii] The average annual salaries are as follows:
Public school: $90,500ii
Private school: $65,300ii
Non-sectarian, regular school: $118,100iii
The benefit of experience
How long you've spent working as a principal will also drastically affect your salary. On average for all schools, a principal's salary may increase by more than $10,000, with private school teachers experiencing more of a bump than public school teachers.ii Here are the average annual salaries of principals with less than 3 years of experience, 3 to 9 years' experience and 10 years or more, respectively:
All schools: $78,300 / $87,100 / $88,300ii
Public schools: $83,500 / $90,900 / $96,000ii
Private schools: $53,100 / $64,300 / $70,900ii
Education Administration Salary by community
When it comes to administrating at a public school, the type of community you work in also affects pay. Suburban principals have the highest average annual salary, followed by the city principals, then town and finally rural.ii
Education Administration Salary by region
Determining salary by the state in which one lives is perhaps one of the more deceptive metrics, given that cost of living can vary so widely from region to region. For example, while principals in Arkansas make considerably less than those in Massachusetts on average, they may have less living expenses.[iv] Here is a sample of various states that show just how wide the pay spectrum can be:
[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm#tab-1 [ii] nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/sass1112_2013313_a12n_004.asp [iii] nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/sass1112_2013313_p2a_004.asp [iv] nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/sass1112_2013313_p1s_004.asp