Elementary School Principal Salary

Elementary School Principals in the United States tend to have a good amount of experience under their belt — slightly less than three-fifths have more than 10 years in the field. While pay runs from $51K to $112K per year, median earnings come to $79K annually. Geography is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by career length. Female Elementary School Principals survey participants are more prevalent than men — 63 percent of professionals. Medical benefits are awarded to most, and more than half earn dental coverage. Job satisfaction for Elementary School Principals is high. The data for this synopsis comes from respondents who took the PayScale salary survey.

$50,285 - $111,098
MEDIAN: $78,720

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
$50,285 - $111,098  
$0.00 - $5,221  
Profit Sharing
$0.00 - $2,543  
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).
$50,556 - $111,853  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,006
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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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Advancing into a School Superintendent role seems to be a popular career move for Elementary School Principals, and folks who currently work in the latter position report a notably larger median income of $105K per year. Elementary School Principals most frequently become Elementary and Secondary School Education Administrators and Middle School Principals and Headmasters even though median compensation is $19K lower and $5K lower, respectively.

Elementary School Principal Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Elementary School Principal

Just a handful of professional skills are reported by Elementary School Principals who took the survey. Most notably, skills in Childhood Education, Team Leadership, Leadership, and Curriculum Planning are correlated to pay that is above average. It is often found that people who know Curriculum Planning are 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 more experience do not necessarily bring home bigger paychecks. In fact, experience in this field tends to impact compensation minimally. Salaries for inexperienced workers average out to $78K, and those with five to 10 years' experience earn a higher median of $72K. Elementary School Principals who work for 10 to 20 years in their occupation tend to earn about $79K. Veterans who have worked for more than two decades do tend to make the most in the end; the median pay for this group is $89K.

Pay Difference by Location

With a pay rate for Elementary School Principals that is 41 percent greater than the national average, Washington offers a comfortable salary for those in this profession. Elementary School Principals can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like San Diego (+34 percent), New York (+30 percent), Atlanta (+21 percent), and Los Angeles (+20 percent). Elementary School Principals' salaries are heavily influenced by location — Elementary School Principals in Orlando bring in salaries that are 26 percent lower than the national average. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Houston (11 percent lower) and Denver (4 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 20%

up arrow 3%

Curriculum Planning
up arrow 1%

National Average

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 141 votes.


63 %
37 %

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: 86% dental benefits Dental: 68%
vision benefits Vision: 51% employee benefits None: 12%