Skip to main content

Exploring Career Opportunities in Education Leadership: Paths to School Administration

May 23, 2024

Effective school leadership positively impacts learner outcomes and organizational performance. According to a Wallace Foundation report, replacing a below-average principal (in the 25th percentile of effectiveness) with a highly effective principal (in the 75th percentile) can increase annual student learning in reading and math by almost three months. 

If you are an aspiring education leader, an advanced degree — like the online Master of Education (MEd) offered by Tulane University — can help you develop the skills you need to achieve your career goals. This article explores education leadership career opportunities in school administration, which an MEd degree can help facilitate.

Prepare for a Career in Education Leadership

Contact an Enrollment Advisor to Learn More About Our Online Degrees
Find Out More

How Education Leadership Roles Shape the Student Experience

School administrators, from principals to superintendents, play a critical role in shaping student experiences and outcomes. Effective school leaders create a continuous learning and improvement culture, providing teachers with the support they need to enhance instruction. They also understand the importance of building and sharing a clear school vision and involving all members of the school community. They work to create a collaborative culture in their schools that values open communication and respect. Ultimately, students reap the rewards and are more likely to reach their full academic potential. 

Deep Dive: Career Paths in School Administration 

Various education leadership careers are open to educators interested in school administration roles. Read on to learn more about school administration job responsibilities. 


School principals oversee all school operations and daily activities; they can play a crucial role in improving teacher performance and student learning. The duties of a principal vary based on the size of the school and its district. Typical responsibilities include: 

  • Developing, implementing, and maintaining curriculum standards and setting academic goals.
  • Ensuring teachers have the support and resources they need to operate effectively. 
  • Implementing standards and programs set by school district, state, and federal regulations.
  • Evaluating teacher and student performance and preparing reports on achievement data. 
  • Serving as the school’s public representative and meeting with parents and the community to address concerns. 
  • Counseling and disciplining students.

Assistant Principalship

Many schools have assistant principals (sometimes called vice principals) who help principals with school administration. Principals typically assign specific duties to their assistant principals; as a result, their day-to-day responsibilities vary. Traditionally, assistant principals focus on discipline, including enforcing rules, monitoring attendance, and counseling students. More recently, their duties have expanded to include administration and instructional leadership. 

While assistant principals primarily support their school’s principal, they also play an essential role in helping students succeed. Assistant principals frequently observe and support teachers in delivering quality education. They also can take an active role in student counseling and support.   

District-Level Administration

District-level leaders and administrators, such as superintendents and central administration staff, develop, implement, and evaluate district school systems and policies. Superintendents work with school boards to ensure each school meets community needs and that students get the best education possible. They also provide schools with guidance on academics, finances, personnel, and transportation to help ensure each school complies with the necessary laws, regulations, and policies and gives every child the opportunity to reach their full potential.  

What Qualifications Do District and School Administrators Need? 

Leadership skills, education, and experience distinguish effective district or school administrators. The descriptions below provide more information on each of these aspects. 

Leadership Skills

Effective principals and district administrators share a few key characteristics that make them excellent leaders. They are: 

  • Skilled communicators: They can clearly convey their vision and goals and handle difficult conversations diplomatically. 
  • Creative problem solvers and decision-makers: They calmly and confidently weigh all available options to choose the best course of action. 
  • Approachable: Their approachability fosters strong relationships with staff, students, and communities. 
  • Effective organizers: They organize tasks and prioritize efficiently. 

The online MEd at Tulane University focuses on equipping students to become exceptional leaders who create ethical, equitable, and high-quality teaching and learning environments. Graduates emerge prepared to take on leadership roles, focusing on social justice and equity in the classroom. 


Most educational leadership positions require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics indicates that over 60 percent of principals possess a master’s degree. Depending on your state, additional certifications may also be required.  

Professional Experience

Most education leadership positions require hands-on experience in instructional settings. The typical minimum requirements include:

Tulane MEd program students with less than three years of relevant work experience participate in an experiential, site-based capstone project that helps them build their professional experience while studying. 

How Tulane’s Online Master of Education Empowers Education Leaders

Tulane’s online MEd focuses on providing students with the leadership skills to improve the equitability and inclusivity of teaching practices in their communities. The program offers students four specialization options, including one in equity-centered education leadership. 

The curriculum is delivered 100 percent online and includes synchronous and asynchronous elements. This format enables students to engage with their diverse cohort of peers and Tulane faculty without compromising on flexibility. The program, which takes an average of two years to complete, prepares graduates for education leadership roles in growing fields

Lean Into Education Leadership with an MEd from Tulane

Effective education leaders play a critical role in ensuring schools function optimally and enable all learners to reach their full potential. If you want to make a difference in the education landscape, Tulane’s online MEd can help prepare you to assume leadership roles at the school and district levels. To learn more about the Tulane online MEd, connect with an enrollment advisor

Lead Tomorrow’s Inclusive, Equitable Educational Institutions

Earn Your MEd Online From Tulane University
Apply Now