Jobs in Educational Leadership: A Comprehensive Guide

Woman working on laptop

Welcome to the world of educational leadership. This is a field that plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of our society. It’s a realm where passionate individuals dedicate their careers to enhancing the quality of education and creating a positive impact on students’ lives.

In the realm of “jobs in education leadership,” you’ll find a diverse array of roles, each with its unique set of challenges and rewards. These roles are instrumental in shaping the educational landscape, influencing policy, and ensuring the delivery of quality education to all students.

What is Educational Leadership?

So, what exactly is educational leadership? Educational leadership is a specialized field within the broader education sector. It focuses on the administration and management of educational institutions, such as schools, colleges, and universities.

Those who hold jobs in educational leadership are responsible for setting educational standards, creating policies, managing staff, and ensuring a conducive learning environment for students. They are the visionaries who set the direction for their institutions and make critical decisions that impact the lives of students and staff alike.

The role of educational leaders extends beyond the confines of their institutions. They also play a significant role in shaping the educational landscape at a broader level. They influence educational policies, advocate for educational reforms, and contribute to discussions on important issues such as equity in education, curriculum development, and the integration of technology in education.

In the next sections, we’ll delve deeper into the various roles within educational leadership, the skills required, and the impact these roles have on our educational system.

Why Pursue a Career in Educational Leadership?

If you’re passionate about education and want to make a significant impact, then a career in educational leadership could be the perfect fit for you.

Jobs in educational leadership offer the opportunity to directly influence the quality of education that students receive. As an educational leader, you have the power to implement policies and practices that can enhance learning outcomes, foster a positive learning environment, and ensure that every student has access to quality education.

For instance, consider the role of a school principal. They have the power to shape the school’s culture, influence the curriculum, and ensure that teachers have the resources they need to succeed. Their leadership can directly impact students’ experiences and outcomes.

But the impact of educational leadership extends beyond individual institutions. Educational leaders also play a crucial role in shaping broader educational policies and practices. They can advocate for educational equity, champion innovative teaching practices, and drive systemic change in the education sector.

On a personal level, jobs in educational leadership can be incredibly rewarding. They offer the opportunity to lead, inspire, and make a difference. They also come with professional benefits, including opportunities for career advancement, intellectual stimulation, and the chance to contribute to a field you’re passionate about.

woman smiling into camera with chalkboard behind her

Types of Jobs in Educational Leadership

The field of educational leadership is diverse, with a variety of roles that cater to different skills and interests. Here are a few key roles in this field:


The principal is the leader of the school. They set the school’s vision, manage staff, oversee daily operations, and ensure a positive learning environment for students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for elementary, middle, and high school principals was $98,420 in May 2021. The job outlook from 2021 to 2031 is projected to grow 5 percent, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Dean of Students

In a college or university setting, the Dean of Students is responsible for student affairs. They oversee student services, handle disciplinary matters, and work to enhance student life. As part of the broader category of postsecondary education administrators, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual wage of $96,910 in May 2021. The job outlook for this category is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

University Registrar

The University Registrar manages student records, coordinates course registration, and ensures compliance with academic policies. They also fall under the category of postsecondary education administrators, sharing the same salary and job outlook projections as the Dean of Students.

Department Chair

A Department Chair leads a specific academic department within a school or university. They manage faculty, oversee curriculum development, and ensure the quality of education within their department. While specific data for Department Chairs isn’t available, they would likely have a similar salary range and job outlook to other postsecondary education administrators.

Chief Academic Officer

A chief academic officer is an administrative professional who helps oversee the operations of educational facilities and institutions. According to PayScale, this position commands an average salary of $145,437 per year.

Chief Learning Officer

The chief learning officer is responsible for corporate learning management. They develop strategies to align workforce development with the goals of the business. The median salary for a chief learning officer, according to PayScale, is $148,713 per year.

Training and Development Manager

The training and development manager makes sure employees stay productive through training, assessments, and recognition and reward programs. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the median pay for this position at $120,130 per year. The expected growth rate from 2021 to 2031 is seven percent.

Education Administrator

Education administrators manage school operations and can be found at all school levels: preschool and childcare, elementary and secondary, and postsecondary. According to PayScale, the median salary for education administrators in the preschool or childcare center level is $42,000 per year.

Survey Researchers

Survey researchers design surveys, conduct research, and analyze data. They mostly work in research firms, nonprofits, colleges and universities, government agencies, and polling organizations. The May 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics data sets the median pay for this occupation at $59,740 per year.

Each of these roles comes with its unique set of responsibilities and challenges. But they all share a common goal: to lead, inspire, and enhance the quality of education.

The Path to a Career in Educational Leadership

Embarking on a career in educational leadership requires a combination of education, experience, and a passion for education. Typically, most roles in educational leadership, such as a principal or a dean, require a master’s degree or doctorate in educational leadership. These programs provide a solid foundation in educational theory, leadership principles, and administrative practices.

However, a degree alone is not enough. Experience plays a crucial role in preparing for a career in educational leadership. Most educational leaders start their careers in the classroom as teachers. This experience provides a deep understanding of the educational process, curriculum development, and student needs.

In addition to classroom experience, administrative experience is also valuable. This could involve roles such as department head, assistant principal, or other leadership positions within an educational institution. These roles provide experience in managing staff, developing and implementing policies, and other administrative tasks.

Skills Needed for a Successful Career in Educational Leadership

Educational leadership roles require a diverse mix of both hard and soft skills. These skills are critical for effectively managing educational institutions and driving improvements in educational outcomes. Here’s a more detailed look at the key skills needed for a successful career in educational leadership:

Hard SkillsHow to Develop
Knowledge of Educational Policies: Understanding of local, state, and federal educational policies and regulations.Stay updated with the latest policy changes by regularly reviewing official education websites and attending relevant workshops or seminars.
Curriculum Development: Ability to design and implement effective educational programs.Gain experience in teaching and participate in curriculum development projects. Further education in curriculum and instruction can also be beneficial.
Budgeting: Proficiency in managing finances and allocating resources effectively.Take courses in financial management or gain experience in roles that involve budgeting responsibilities.
Staff Management: Skills in hiring, training, and managing staff.Gain experience in leadership roles, attend management training programs, and learn from mentors.
Soft SkillsHow to Develop
Leadership: Ability to inspire and motivate staff, set clear goals, and lead by example.Take on leadership roles, seek feedback, and learn from successful leaders. Leadership training programs can also be beneficial.
Communication: Proficiency in conveying information clearly and effectively, and listening to others.Practice active listening, give and receive feedback, and engage in public speaking opportunities.
Problem-Solving: Capacity to identify problems, generate solutions, and make sound decisions.Gain experience in roles that require decision-making, reflect on past decisions, and learn decision-making strategies.
Decision-Making: Ability to make informed decisions that benefit students and staff.Gain experience in roles that require decision-making reflect on past decisions, and learn decision-making strategies.

These skills can be developed and honed through a combination of formal education, on-the-job experience, professional development courses, and mentorship from experienced leaders. Remember, becoming an effective educational leader is a journey of continuous learning and growth.

Career Outlook for Educational Leadership

The career outlook for educational leadership roles is generally positive. As mentioned earlier, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 5% for school principals and 7% for postsecondary education administrators from 2021 to 2031.

This growth is driven by the ongoing need for educational institutions to improve student outcomes, comply with changing regulations, and adapt to new educational technologies. However, the job market can be competitive, and roles often require significant experience and advanced degrees. As such, those considering a career in educational leadership should be prepared for a commitment to ongoing learning and professional development.

Looking ahead, the field of educational leadership is likely to continue evolving. Factors such as the integration of technology in education, the push for educational equity, and the need for innovative teaching and learning approaches will shape the roles and responsibilities of educational leaders in the future.

Transitioning into Educational Leadership

Transitioning into educational leadership can be a rewarding but challenging journey. If you’re considering making this switch, here are a few tips to guide you:

  1. Gain Experience: Start by gaining experience in the classroom. This will give you a solid understanding of the educational process and the needs of students.
  2. Pursue Further Education: Consider pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree in education administration or leadership. This will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed for leadership roles.
  3. Seek Mentorship: Find a mentor who is already in a leadership role. They can provide valuable advice, guidance, and insights into the challenges and rewards of the job.
  4. Take on Leadership Roles: Look for opportunities to take on leadership roles within your current position. This could be leading a committee, heading a project, or taking on an administrative role.

The Impact of Technology on Educational Leadership

Technology is transforming the field of education, and educational leadership is no exception.

In the classroom, technology is changing how teachers teach, and students learn. From online learning platforms to educational apps, technology is providing new ways to engage students and enhance learning.

For educational leaders, technology presents both opportunities and challenges. On one hand, technology can streamline administrative tasks, improve communication, and provide new ways to monitor student progress. On the other hand, it also requires leaders to manage the implementation of new technologies, ensure digital equity, and navigate issues related to privacy and cybersecurity.

For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools had to switch to remote learning. This required educational leaders to quickly implement online learning platforms, ensure all students had access to the necessary technology, and train teachers in online instruction.

As technology continues to evolve, educational leaders will need to stay abreast of new developments and consider how they can be leveraged to improve education. This will require ongoing learning and adaptability. But with these challenges come exciting opportunities to shape the future of education.

Master of Science in Applied School Leadership (In Partnership with participating California County Offices of Education) Program Page


Embarking on a career in educational leadership is a journey filled with opportunities to shape the future of education and make a lasting impact on students’ lives. From setting the vision for a school to implementing policies that enhance learning outcomes, educational leaders play a pivotal role in shaping the educational landscape.

While the path to educational leadership may require advanced education and years of experience, the rewards are significant. As an educational leader, you have the opportunity to inspire students, support teachers, and contribute to the advancement of your institution and the broader field of education.

If you’re considering a career in educational leadership, remember that your journey will be unique. It will be shaped by your passion for education, your commitment to learning, and your desire to make a difference. So, take the first step, embrace the challenges, and look forward to the rewards that await you in the world of educational leadership.

Learn more about NU’s Masters in Educational Leadership, or Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership programs.


Most educational leadership roles require a master’s degree in education administration or leadership. However, some roles may also require a doctoral degree, especially for higher-level positions in colleges and universities.

The amount of experience required can vary depending on the specific role. However, most roles require at least a few years of experience in the classroom, and often some experience in an administrative or leadership role.

Educational leaders need a mix of hard and soft skills. This includes knowledge of educational policies and practices, budgeting, and staff management, as well as leadership, communication, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.

Technology is transforming educational leadership in many ways. It’s streamlining administrative tasks, improving communication, and providing new ways to monitor student progress. However, it also presents challenges, such as the need to manage the implementation of new technologies, ensure digital equity, and navigate issues related to privacy and cybersecurity.

Learn More About Our University and Scholarships

Join our email list!

Recent Resources

Your passion. Our Programs.

Choose an Area of Study

Your passion. Our Programs.

Select a degree level

View Programs