what is a superintendent?

Like a business CEO, you'll manage the budget, greet fellow leaders and have some involvement with hiring and firing people along with communicating with the board of directors--in this case, the school board.

Typically, superintendents don't work directly with parents and teachers. Principals work with these groups and report back to you. If you work in a large school district, you might have an assistant superintendent. Otherwise, you're almost solely accountable for your district's successes and failures.

Superintendents submit reports, review policies and try new methods to keep the school district running. You'll need skills in math and communication to hold this position, plus attention to detail. Superintendents potentially make their districts one of the best in the state.

However, you won't see other districts as competitors. Instead, you'll work with fellow superintendents so that every child gets a great education. Similarly, you'll lobby with politicians, helping them pass laws that benefit your students. You're the face of your district, so reports may interview you when major news breaks.

Would working as a superintendent suit your leadership skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a superintendent role.

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average superintendent salary

In 2022, superintendents made an average of $156,468 per year. If you've held the position for a while, you could potentially negotiate your contract and request a higher salary.

Since taxpayer dollars pay for superintendents, salaries may increase during economic upturns. You could relocate to another district if you're not satisfied with your compensation. Wealthier areas typically have larger schools, which means more students and higher salaries. If possible, you could move to another state with more prosperous districts.

Your school district's enrollment influences your salary. EducationWeek notes that districts with fewer than 300 students pay an average of $106,000 per year. Schools with up to 49,999 students pay the most, with the average salary reaching $258,000. For this reason, you can expect to make less if you live in a rural area.

The School Superintendents Association's report also notes that most superintendents leave their position after five years. You might secure a high salary after you've reached the six-year mark. More experience shows the community that you're committed to your position and have mastered the skills to succeed.

Wondering what you can earn as a superintendent? Find out immediately with the Randstad salary checker! You can quickly and easily see what the average salary of a superintendent is.

Student, students, young people, youngsters, school, college, study, studying
Student, students, young people, youngsters, school, college, study, studying

types of superintendent

Regular superintendents have all the responsibilities of a district CEO. You'll review and develop policies that improve your students' education, make the most out of your budget and help hire the right teachers. If you're an assistant superintendent, you may have opportunities to transfer to this position.

Assistant superintendents usually work in schools with high enrollment levels. They assist students more closely but still work with district higher-ups. Assistant superintendents may review test scores, approve cafeteria menus, lead board meetings, request more funding and make decisions for inclement weather.


working as a superintendent

Superintendents have rewarding jobs that make a difference in students', teachers' and parents' lives. Here's what to expect when you become a superintendent.


superintendent skills and education

Superintendents need years of education experience before they climb the ranks. Most superintendents start out as teachers. You'll need teaching experience before you can secure a principal or vice principal job. Once you've worked as a principal for a while, the school board may consider your superintendent application.

Most districts expect you to have a bachelor's degree. Preferably, you'll have a master's degree or doctorate in the educational field. Before you apply, look up the licenses and certifications in your area. Common requirements include a public school administrator’s license and passing grades on the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) and School Superintendent Assessment.

You can expect to work in related positions for at least a decade. Typically, superintendents need significant experience as teachers and principals, not just a year or two. When you've held these jobs, you'll know what teachers, principals and colleagues need from you to succeed.

Superintendents regularly use software, so certifications in Excel, PowerPoint and other platforms stand out on your resume. You'll also use software made specifically for school administrators. To continue your education, attend conferences that provide tools, resources and updates on the educational field.

skills and competencies

You'll arrive at the job with dozens of skills that you already earned as a teacher and vice principal. However, superintendents need specialized tools to handle their daily responsibilities. Essential skills include:

  • software and technology proficiency
  • budget management
  • leadership and communication
  • problem solving
  • ability to understand different perspectives
  • networking
  • commitment to education
  • willingness to learn

Since you're the district CEO, you'll exhibit leadership and professionalism wherever you go. Parents expect you to conduct yourself well if they meet you at a school event or run into you on the street. You'll be friendly and courteous when you interact with politicians and news reporters even during times of crisis.

Superintendents interact with a diverse range of people. Reporters, politicians and parents in addition to teachers, assistants and principals: you'll need to get along with all of them and adjust your behavior accordingly. However, superintendents also have valuable negotiation skills. You'll work to secure the laws, faculty and funding that your district needs to succeed.

Flexibility is one of the most important skills. You'll find yourself in unexpected situations where you need to think on your feet. You might have to visit several locations and greet dozens of people in a single day. The state and school board could also have surprise announcements.

smiling woman
smiling woman

FAQs about working as a superintendent

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about superintendents

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