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 per year. Geography and tenure each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. Female Elementary School Principals survey participants are more prevalent than men — 64 percent of professionals. The majority of Elementary School Principals claim high levels of job satisfaction. A large number enjoy medical while more than half get dental coverage. Vision coverage is also available to half. This snapshot results from replies to PayScale's salary survey.

$50,798 - $111,418
MEDIAN: $78,827

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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.
$50,798 - $111,418  
$0.00 - $5,120  
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).
$50,993 - $112,157  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Sep 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,057
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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

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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 $105K per year. Elementary School Principals most often move into Elementary and Secondary School Education Administrator or Middle School Principal or Headmaster roles. However, the former pays $19K less on average, and the latter pays $5K less.

Elementary School Principal Job Listings

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Popular Skills for

Elementary School Principals who responded to the survey report just a handful of professional skills. Most notably, skills in Childhood Education, Team Leadership, Leadership, and Curriculum Planning are correlated to pay that is above average. Those educated in Curriculum Planning tend to be well versed in Team Leadership.

Pay by Experience Level for

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

For Elementary School Principals, more experience in the field does not usually mean bigger paychecks. Workers with less than five years' experience earn around $72K on average, and those who have five to 10 years under their belts see a higher median salary of $78K. On average, Elementary School Principals make $79K following one to two decades on the job. 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 $88K.

Pay Difference by Location

New York offers some of the highest pay in the country for Elementary School Principals, 40 percent above the national average. Elementary School Principals will also find cushy salaries in Washington (+31 percent), San Diego (+28 percent), Atlanta (+22 percent), and Los Angeles (+20 percent). Houston ranks last in the field for pay, reporting salaries 11 percent below the national average. Below-median salaries also turn up in Denver and Phoenix (6 percent lower and 2 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.

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Experience Affects Salaries

National Average

Skills That Affect Salaries

Childhood Education
up arrow 20%

up arrow 2%

Curriculum Planning
up arrow 1%

National Average

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 119 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%
vision benefits Vision: 51% employee benefits None: 11%