The Job of an Assistant Principal

School administrators carry out day-to-day operations

Assistant Principals Help the Principal in the Administration of the School.
What Is an Assistant Principal? Assistant Principals Help the Principal in the Administration of the School. Andrey Popov /

Assistant principals, also called vice principals, support the principal in the administrative operation of a school. They fulfill many roles, and the position can be a stepping stone to the principal's job or an end-goal in itself. Typically, mid-size to large schools employ more than one assistant principal and each carries out a portion of the day-to-day tasks. Unlike teachers who often take a summer break, school administrators typically work year-round.

Most assistant principals start their careers as teachers.

Responsibilities of an Assistant Principal

  • Assist the principal in interviewing and evaluating instructional and non-instructional staff.
  • Supervise instructional and non-instructional staff.
  • Help create school-wide goals including those related to student learning and student behavior.
  • Manage student behavioral issues including those in the cafeteria along with those referred by teachers and bus drivers.
  • Supervise or arrange for supervision of student activities both during and after school hours including school assemblies, athletic activities, and music and drama productions.
  • Share responsibility for setting and meeting the school's budget.
  • Set up the academic schedule for teachers and students.
  • Keep track of all activities on the school calendar.
  • Conduct staff meetings.

Education Requirements

Typically, an assistant principal must hold at least a master's degree along with specific certification.

Most states require teaching experience.

Common Characteristics of Assistant Principals

Effective assistant principals share many of the same characteristics, including:

  • Strong organizational skills. Assistant principals often have to juggle a number of high priority tasks that require them to be organized in order to be successful.
  • Attention to detail. From keeping track of the school calendar to evaluating teachers, assistant principals find that attention to detail is a necessary requirement.
  • A desire to help students succeed. While many people see the assistant principals as the disciplinary arm of the administrative staff, their main goal should be to help students achieve to their greatest potential.
  • Trustworthiness. Assistant principals deal with sensitive information every day. Therefore, they must be honest and discreet.
  • Diplomacy. Assistant principals often have to deal with heated situations between students, parents and teachers. Tact and diplomacy can go a long way towards dealing with difficult problems.
  • Desire to be active and visible. Students and teachers need to see that the assistant principals are involved in the school in order for them to have the type of authority that makes others want to listen to them.

Sample Salary

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for principals, including assistants, in the United States in 2015 was $90,410. However, this varies widely by state. The Occupational Employment Statistics reported these annual mean wages for 2015:

  • California - $109.210
  • West Virginia - $67,890
  • New York - $114,090
  • Ohio - $83,180
  • New Jersey - $124,560
  • Texas - $79,490

Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6 percent growth in jobs for principals in the decade from 2014 to 2024. For comparison, the expected percent change in employment for all occupations is 7 percent.