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Principal Career Pathway

School principals are responsible for the school as a whole, and are ultimately responsible for the performance of teachers, students, and other employees. They work in primary, middle or intermediate, and secondary schools.

What does a Principal do?

School principals plan, organise, direct, control and coordinate the educational and administrative aspects of their school, including physical and human resources. To be successful, principals must have teaching, managerial, and planning skills. They also need the ability to communicate the school’s performance and needs to school board members and other leaders within the school district. 

Some of their tasks include, but are not limited to, the below: 

  • Determine educational programs based on curricula set by educational
  • authorities
  • Implement systems and procedures to monitor school performance and student enrolments
  • Direct administrative and clerical activities concerning student admissions and educational services
  • Prepare school budgets and maintain budgetary controls
  • Promote the educational program, and represent the school in the wider community
  • Enforce a disciplinary code to create a safe and conducive environment for students and teachers
  • Organise and implement methods of raising additional funds in conjunction with parent groups
  • Control selection, training and supervision of staff
  • Supervise the maintenance of school facilities

How much does a Principal earn?

The average annual salary for a school principal in Australia is $125,000.

Bonuses may be available in addition to this – the amount received in bonuses depends on the organisation they work for and their experience level.

As a school principal gains further competencies and progresses through their career, their earning potential generally increases.

Average salary potential

  • Entry level: $117,100
  • Mid-level salary: $119,000
  • Senior salary: $124,800
  • Bonuses: $2,425
  • Average salary (primary school): $123,250
  • Average salary (middle school): $132,250

    Where do Primary School Teachers work?

    School principals work in offices from Monday to Friday business hours. 

    97.3% of school principals working on a full-time basis.

    According to the ABS Labour Force Survey, the average week worked by school principals is 48.1 hours.


    Principal Career Outlook at a glance

    Median age is: 50 years old

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    Employment level trends & growth

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    School principals can work in schools at the different education levels: middle or intermediate, primary or secondary. A small percentage of roles are in public administration and safety, and healthcare and social assistance.

    What are some related job titles to the school principal?

    • Headmaster
    • Headmistress


    Children using technology in a classroom in New South Wales


    What education do you need?

    A bachelor degree or higher, or at least 5 years of relevant experience is usually needed to work in this job. Around half of school principals have a postgraduate degree.

    The next step in your education career

    If you want to pursue a career as a school principal, Southern Cross University offers a Master of Education available 100% online. Online study is ideal for those balancing all the commitments that are part of full-time work. 



    Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) 2nd Edition, ABS Catalogue No. 1220.0, p131.
    Occupational Projections, Australian Government Department of Jobs and Small Business
    Australian Government Job Outlook
    Payscale (headmaster salary)
    Payscale Middle School Salary
    Payscale Principal Salary


    100% Online Education Courses

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