Mississippi’s public school system’s woes are nothing new. Chronically underfunded and challenged by high poverty rates and racial inequities, Mississippi’s PreK-12 public school system has long struggled to rise out from underneath the burden of being among the nation’s most underperforming school systems.
Though a long-term, lasting solution to the state’s problems is multi-faceted and far from clear-cut, positive changes are happening in the Magnolia State, many of which are sure to impress even the biggest pessimists.
In the last few years, statistics from the National Assessment of Educational Progress have revealed that reading and math test scores in Mississippi have climbed from close to the bottom to the middle of the pack; in many cases, beating out neighbors like Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
And Mississippi’s graduation rate has also soared in recent years. In 2011, the graduation rate was just 75 percent. By 2020, the state reported an 88 percent graduation rate, which surpassed the national average of 87 percent.
Mississippi’s public education system is moving in the right direction, along with your career in education. You’ve been among Mississippi’s most dedicated educators, steadfast in your commitment to the state’s PreK-12 student population. But now you’re thinking about a career move that’ll take you beyond the classroom and into educational administration and leadership – and for good reason. A principal or superintendent role opens the door to new opportunities where you can make a difference, earn a bigger paycheck, and take on new challenges.
But first you’ll need to earn a master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral degree in educational leadership and administration. These graduate degrees will prepare you to effect positive change at the building- or district-level and are ideally designed to meet both state requirements and your personal career goals.
How to Become a Principal in Mississippi – School-level Educational Leadership
Building-level leadership will allow you to create and shape a vision for Mississippi schools as you counsel students and manage and support educators and staff. To become a principal in Mississippi, you must earn an Administrator License through the Mississippi Department of Education.
But first you’ll need to have a Five-Year Standard Educator’s License and at least three years of educational experience.
Once you meet these requirements, you can begin taking the steps to become a principal in Mississippi.
Step 1. Earn a Minimum of a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership/Administration That’s Designated for Administrator K-12 Certification
To become a principal in Mississippi, you must earn a master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral degree in educational leadership/administration that’s specifically designated for Administrator K-12 licensure. The program must be state-approved or offered through a regionally/nationally accredited institution.
These degrees are often designed as:
Just some of the courses in these programs include:
These programs also include about 150 internship hours and an additional 360 hours of field experiences.
If you’ve already earned a master’s degree, you may choose to complete the coursework and practical experiences required for an Administrator License through a post-master’s certificate program. Many of these programs are offered in partially or fully online formats to accommodate your busy schedule.
Once you graduate from an approved program in educational leadership/supervision, you’ll need to earn an institutional recommendation to qualify for an Administrator License.
Step 2. Take and Pass the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA)
You’ll need to take and pass the Praxis School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) through Educating Testing Service (ETS).
This exam includes questions on the following topics:
You can take the exam online or at a testing center near you.
Step 3. Apply for an Entry-Level Administrator License After Securing Your First Job as an Administrator
Once you meet the requirements for licensure and secure your first job as a school principal, you can apply for an Entry-Level Administrator License by applying through your Educator Management System account. You’ll need a letter from the District where you’re employed that includes your administrative position and the date of your employment to complete your application.
Step 4. Convert Your Entry-Level Administrator License Into a Standard-Career-Level Administrator License
You’ll have five years to convert your non-renewable Entry-Level Administrator License into a Standard Career-Level Administrator License by completing the School Executive Management Institute (SEMI) entry-level requirements – Orientation to School Leadership.
This training program, which is designed for first-time administrators of Mississippi schools, provides an overview of state mandates related to:
You’ll carry out several projects in your school or district to display mastery of the above concepts. The OSL module consists of ten training days (five days per school year) that are delivered in two, two-day sessions and one, one-day session.
Once you successfully complete the OSL module (usually in the first two years of your employment as a principal), you’ll apply for the Standard Career-Level Administrator License.
Step 5. Maintain Your Standard Career-Level Administrator License
Your Mississippi Standard Career-Level Administrator License is valid for a period of five years. You can complete the requirements for renewal by completing one of the following:
School Principal Salary and Jobs in Mississippi
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school principals in Mississippi earned a median salary of $78,600 as of May 2022, while those at the top of the pay scale here earned about $87,900.
School principals in the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula metro area and the Southwest Mississippi nonmetro area earned reported median salaries that surpassed the state median, at $81,110 and $80,860, respectively, while other areas reported median salaries that were similar to the state median:
How to Become a Superintendent in Mississippi – District-Level Educational Leadership
If a district-level position as a superintendent is in your sights, you’ll need to earn a Superintendent License through the Mississippi Department of Education.
But first you’ll need at least six years of documented successful leadership experience that’s verified by the appointing local school board. Acceptable experience includes (but isn’t limited to):
- For profit and non-for-profit organizations
- State agencies
- K-12 education – district-level senior/executive leadership roles that report to local superintendent of education, higher education, or law
- Senior leadership position (CEO, commissioned officer, etc.)
Once you meet the leadership experience requirement, you can begin taking the steps to become a superintendent in Mississippi.
Step 1. Earn a Master’s Degree
Though the Mississippi Department of Education doesn’t specify a master’s degree field, earning a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration serves as an outstanding course of preparation to become a superintendent in Mississippi.
These programs are often designed as:
Step 2. Apply for an Initial Three-Year Superintendent License After Securing Your First Job as a Superintendent
Once you meet the requirements for licensure, secure your first job as a district superintendent, and submit local board resolution of appointment to that position, you can apply for an Initial Three-Year Superintendent License.
Step 3. Convert Your Initial Three-Year Superintendent License Into a Standard Five-Year District Superintendent License
The Initial Three-Year Superintendent License is non-renewable, but it can be converted into a Standard Five-Year District Superintendent License upon the completion of ongoing professional learning that aligns with the responsibilities of Mississippi local school district superintendents. Examples include:
You must also demonstrate evidence that your school district increased its accountability rating by at least one performance classification during the initial three-year period if you were placed in a local school district that was rated a “C” or lower at the time of appointment as district superintendent or that you maintained the “A” or “B” rating in your school district.
Step 4. Maintain Your Standard Five-Year District Superintendent License
The Standard Five-Year District Superintendent License is valid for a period of five years. You can satisfy the requirements for renewal by completing one of the following:
Superintendent Salary and Jobs in Mississippi
According to the BLS, district superintendents in Mississippi earned about $100,430 as of May 2022. The Jackson and Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula metro areas reported higher average salaries for superintendents during this time, at $104,190 and $102,480, respectively.
Educational Leadership Degree Options in Mississippi: Doctorate and Master’s in Educational Leadership
Good news for aspiring principals and superintendents in Mississippi! Strong growth in this field is expected to continue in the coming years. During the ten years leading up to 2030, the number of jobs among the state’s educational administrators is projected to increase by 8.6 percent. During this time, the state should see about 240 annual job openings for principals and superintendents due to a blend of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.
Thanks to a growing number of masters, educational specialist, and doctoral degrees in education administration and leadership, aspiring principals and superintendents like you have more options than ever before for earning the degree that will get you where you want to be.
Aimed at busy, working professionals, many of these degrees are now offered in partially or fully online formats for outstanding convenience and flexibility. There’s no better time than now to take the leap and earn the degree that will jumpstart your career in education administration and leadership!
M.Ed in School Leadership and Administration
School of Education
Department of Teacher Education and Leadership
M.Ed in Educational Leadership
(Ed.S, Ed.D) in Educational Leadership
Certificate in Leadership
William Carey University
School of Education
M.Ed in Educational Leadership
Doctoral in Educational Leadership
Ed.S in Educational Leadership
2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for education administrators, kindergarten through secondary. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed May 2023.