Elementary School Principal Salary

Elementary School Principals in the United States tend to have a good amount of experience under their belt — just below three-fifths have more than 10 years in the field. While pay runs from $51K to $113K per year, median earnings come to $79K per year. Geography and experience level each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. A large number report receiving medical coverage from their employers and the greater part collect dental insurance. The majority of Elementary School Principals claim high levels of job satisfaction. Women account for the majority of Elementary School Principals who responded to the questionnaire — 64 percent to be exact. The information for this snapshot was generated by responses to the PayScale salary survey.

$51,053 - $111,958
MEDIAN: $79,046

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
$51,053 - $111,958  
$0.00 - $5,159  
Profit Sharing
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
$51,250 - $112,669  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 12 Jan 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 1,100
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Job Description for Elementary School Principal

Elementary school principals must almost always have a master’s degree in education or a related field. Some employers prefer that candidates possess a PhD in Education or Educational Leadership. Some positions require a principal’s certification and/or license.


Elementary School Principal Tasks

  • Ensure compliance with all laws, implement emergency plans, and establish safety regulations.
  • Hire, supervise, and evaluate school teaching staff, administrative staff, kitchen staff, and custodians.
  • Establish academic and behavioral standards for students and administer student discipline.
  • Oversee school administration, curriculum, programs, services, and resources.
  • Communicate school goals, vision, and needs to teachers, parents, the community, and school board.

Common Career Paths for Elementary School Principal

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Many Elementary School Principals move into a School Superintendent role, and folks who currently hold that position report a much higher median income of $106K per year. Many Elementary School Principals choose to become Elementary and Secondary School Education Administrators and Middle School Principal or Headmasters as their careers advance. However, folks in those positions report median salaries of $19K less and $5K less, respectively.

Elementary School Principal Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Elementary School Principal

Elementary School Principals report a focused set of job skills. Most notably, skills in Childhood Education, Team Leadership, Leadership, and Curriculum Planning are correlated to pay that is above average. Those proficient in Curriculum Planning are, more often than not, also skilled in Team Leadership.

Pay by Experience Level for Elementary School Principal

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.

Elementary School Principals with a lot of experience do not necessarily enjoy more money. The median compensation for relatively untried workers is $72K; in the five-to-10 year group, it's higher at around $78K. People with 10 to 20 years of experience make an average of about $80K in this role. Old hands boasting more than twenty years of relevant experience report pay that is more or less commensurate with that extensive experience; average earnings for this group come out to approximately $89K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $79,252

Larger city markers indicate a job is popular in that location.

Home to some of the best pay for Elementary School Principals, New York offers exceptional salaries, 40 percent above the national average. Elementary School Principals will also find cushy salaries in Washington (+31 percent), San Diego (+27 percent), Atlanta (+23 percent), and Los Angeles (+15 percent). Houston ranks last in the field for pay, reporting salaries 10 percent below the national average. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Phoenix and Denver (6 percent lower).

Elementary School Principal Reviews

What is it like working as an Elementary School Principal?

Elementary School Principal in Redding:
Pros: Working with students and building relationships with families, staff and community. I enjoy the ability to set a climate where students can achieve high academic standards.
Cons: Required paperwork that is not directly tied to student outcomes.

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Experience Affects Elementary School Principal Salaries

National Average

Skills That Affect Elementary School Principal Salaries

Childhood Education
up arrow 19%

up arrow 2%

Curriculum Planning
up arrow 1%

National Average

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 127 votes.


64 %
36 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
1-4 years
5-9 years
10-19 years
20 years or more

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 87%
dental benefits
Dental: 68%
medical benefits
Vision: 51%
dental benefits
None: 11%