The Average School Principal's Salary

Updated April 17, 2017

As chief administrator, the school principal represents the school to the community, oversees the educational and teaching programs, budgets the school finances and ensures the proper maintenance of the school grounds. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of elementary and secondary school administrators, in 2009, was £56,803. The salary range for school principals largely depends on location, years of work experience, candidate’s educational level and the school type.


According to a May 2009 report from BLS, school principals in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, California and New York get the highest pay. For example, the average salary in Connecticut in 2009 was £71,402 and in California was £67,340. In addition, principals of suburban schools are generally paid better than principals in rural and urban areas.


The typical salary of a school principal also depends on the years of experience at that position. For example, the median salary range of an elementary school principal with less than one year of experience was £29,250 to £42,250 in 2010, whereas principals with five to nine years of experience got between £42,250 and £58,500.


While some private schools may hire principals with bachelor degrees, the majority of schools look for candidates with master’s degree in educational administration or a related field. Some principals have a doctorate degree and they are usually paid significantly higher salaries. The median salary range for an elementary school principal with a doctorate degree in education was £54,367 to £73,544 in 2010.

School Type

The school principal’s pay may vary depending on the type of school employing them. The BLS reports £55,839 as the average salary for an elementary school principal, £59,367 for a middle school principal, and £63,365 for a high school principal during the 2007-2008 school year. Furthermore, according to June 2009 report of the National Center for Education Statistics, the average salary of the state school principals was £18,330 higher than the average salary of the private school principals.

Working Conditions

BLS reports that in 2008, 35 per cent of school administrators worked more than 40 hours a week, having to participate in after-school and weekend events. According to the 2010-2011 edition of the BLS "Occupational Outlook Handbook," the school principal’s job has become increasingly stressful due to the growing number of responsibilities, government regulations, budgetary constraints and teacher shortages. Nevertheless, the school principal’s job can be fulfilling, especially when students and teachers at the school excel.


Benefits vary depending on the employer. BLS reports that school administrators generally have four to five weeks of paid vacation and generous health and pension packages. According to PayScale, other common benefits include paid sick leave, life and disability insurance, and education reimbursement.

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About the Author

Since 2007 Reed Addison has been researching and writing for several nonprofit organizations covering a variety of social-issue topics including education, civic engagement and renewable energy. Addison's area of expertise includes computers, technology and international travel. Addison holds a Master of Business Administration in sustainable business.