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Elementary School Principal Salary

Slightly less than three-fifths of Elementary School Principals in the United States have been in the field for more than 10 years. Pay can fall anywhere from $50K to $112K per year, but median earnings come to around $78K per year. Residence and tenure each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. A large number report receiving medical coverage from their employers and more than half collect dental insurance. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Elementary School Principals. Women account for the majority of Elementary School Principals who responded to the questionnaire — 63 percent to be exact. Respondents to the PayScale salary survey provided the data for this report.

$49,830 - $110,872
MEDIAN: $78,045

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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.
$49,830 - $110,872  
$0.00 - $5,852  
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).
$50,073 - $111,614  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 16 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,002

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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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Elementary School Principals who move on to become School Superintendents may enjoy significant pay raises, as School Superintendents get paid an average of $105K per year. A lot of Elementary School Principals advance their careers by becoming Elementary and Secondary School Education Administrators and Middle School Principals and Headmasters. However, those positions offer $18K less and $4K less per year on average.

Elementary School Principal Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Elementary School Principal

Survey results show that Elementary School Principals typically report just a few professional skills. Most notably, facility with Childhood Education, Team Leadership, and Leadership are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 21 percent, 6 percent, and 3 percent, respectively. Most people familiar with Curriculum Planning also know Team Leadership.

Pay by Experience Level for Elementary School Principal

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

For Elementary School Principals, experience does not seem to be a major factor in determining pay. Relatively untried employees who have less than five years' experience have a median salary of $70K. Those who have been around for five to 10 years can expect to take home more — $78K on average. Elementary School Principals claiming one to two decades of experience make an estimated median of $78K. 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

For Elementary School Principals, busy Washington offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 53 percent above the national average. Elementary School Principals will also find cushy salaries in San Diego (+35 percent), New York (+31 percent), Los Angeles (+22 percent), and Atlanta (+20 percent). One of the biggest compensable factors for Elementary School Principals is geography, with workers in Orlando earning a whopping 25 percent below the national average. Employers in Houston and Phoenix also lean toward paying below-median salaries (11 percent lower and 3 percent lower, respectively).

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.

Related Job Salaries

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Experience Affects Elementary School Principal Salaries

National Average

Skills That Affect Elementary School Principal Salaries

Childhood Education
up arrow 21%

up arrow 3%

Curriculum Planning
up arrow 2%

National Average

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 156 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: 67%
vision benefits Vision: 50% employee benefits None: 12%