Assistant Principal

Job Duties

Assistant principals help principals in most aspects of school administration. Some intend on being assistant principals for their entire career, while others acquire the position in order to prepare for becoming principal. Their duties vary, but usually include scheduling student classes, ordering textbooks and supplies, and coordinating transportation, custodial, cafeteria, and other support services. They are often responsible for student discipline and attendance problems, social and recreational programs, and health and safety matters. In some instances, they may counsel students on personal, vocational, and educational matters. Assistant principals are playing an increasingly important role in developing new curricula, evaluating teachers, and dealing with school-community relations, all of which were previously the sole domain of principals. The number of assistant principals employed by a given school is usually dependent on the size of that school’s student population.

Job Skills

Assistant principals need to have specific knowledge of leadership concepts gained through experience as well as formal education. They must possess qualities such as leadership, determination, confidence, innovativeness, and motivation. Today, assistant principals are required to be intimately familiar with computer technology. This is because they are required to gather information, collect data, and coordinate technical resources for their students, teachers, and classrooms. They should be good decision-makers and be able to organize and coordinate work efficiently. Strong interpersonal skills are essential, due to the high percentage of time spent interacting with others.


In 2002, assistant principals earned a median annual salary of between $62,230 and $70,874, depending on the grade level of their schools. High school assistant principals earned the most on average, followed by Jr. high/middle school assistant principals, and finally, elementary school assistant principals. Benefits for assistant principals are typically very good, including 4 or 5 weeks of vacation each year and generous health and pension packages.

Training and Education

Most assistant principals have a master’s degree in education administration or educational supervision. Some, especially those aspiring to be principals, have a doctorate or specialized degree in education administration. In private schools, due to the lack of State licensure requirements, some assistant principals have only a bachelor’s degree. In some States, assistant principals are required to be licensed as school administrators, and many States use national standards developed by the Interstate School Leadership Licensure Consortium. Some States also require assistant principals to take continuing education courses in order to be able to renew their licenses. Most assistant principals hold teaching positions prior to advancing to an assistant principal position.


In 2002, education administrators (the occupational category to which assistant principals belong) held about 427,000 jobs. 60% worked for State and local governments, and 20% worked for private institutions. Less than 5% were self-employed.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of assistant principals is expected to grow faster than the average. A large percentage of assistant principals are expected to retire during this period, and education continues to hold greater importance in people’s lives. There has been a steady increase in responsibility for principals, making their jobs much more stressful. They have become more accountable for the performance of students and teachers, as well as responsible for adhering to a growing number of government regulations. In many areas, overcrowded classrooms, safety issues, budgetary concerns, and teacher shortages have added to the stress. This combination of changes has discouraged many teachers from taking jobs as assistant principals.

For more information on how to pursue this profession, please see our Education Degree directory.