Learn How to Become a Principal, Superintendent, or Other Administrator in Nevada with a Doctorate or Master’s in Educational Leadership

Written by Alex Dorian

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As a teacher, you’d probably think it an understatement to say the state’s educational leadership leaves something to be desired.

For one thing, Nevada ranked last dead last in a study examining how each state manages school finance. Conducted by Education Week, the study found Nevada spends $4,200 less per pupil than the national average. On top of that, per-pupil spending varies significantly between poor and wealthy districts, exacerbating achievement gaps across existing populations.

The state’s leadership is taking notice of these and other reports highlighting Nevada’s education woes. In February 2023, Gov. Joe Lombardo ordered the state’s public schools to conduct third-party audits of their operations for his administration’s review. The audits include investigations into each school’s financial accountability, student performance, civil rights, and employee benefit programs.

Lombardo’s move comes in the wake of a two-year, $11.4 billion budget for Nevada’s K-12 system. He’s not alone in wanting to ensure the funding makes a measurable improvement on student outcomes.

Things are shaking up. In that regard, now is the perfect time to step into the role as a principal or superintendent. Educational leadership would empower you to optimize the use of financial resources Nevada’s lawmakers are bringing to the table.  So, how do you get there? In this article, we’ll walk you through how to become a principal and superintendent in Nevada.

How to Become a Principal in Nevada – School-level Educational Leadership

To work as a principal in Nevada, you must obtain a School Administrator license. The Nevada Department of Education grants this license to educators whom:

Meeting this criteria qualifies candidates to work as principals. Here’s a deeper look at the process.

Step 1. Create an OPAL Account

This is the Online Portal for Applications and Licensure (OPAL). This is the same portal you used to apply for your Standard or Professional teaching license. You can upload transcripts, evidence of your teaching experience, and other supporting documentation.

Step 2. Document Five Years of Teaching Experience

This includes paychecks, W2s, and other such forms. Ask your school’s administration for these and other records. If they’re accessible through an online HR platform, download them to your PC, and store them in a secure file. Keep this file either in a cloud-based storage service or a separate hard drive. That way, you’ll have the records you need in case your PC has any issues.

Step 3. Obtain a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership

A graduate degree is the biggest piece of the puzzle. Nevada requires aspiring principals to hold a master’s degree in:

The title of the degree doesn’t matter as much as what you learn through the curriculum. The Department of Education requires you to complete at least 36 semester hours of work that covers:

The Department also requires some kind of internship or field experience as part of your graduate degree. If you see an opportunity to obtain a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, take it. That higher degree will be indispensable throughout your career.

Step 4. Submit an Electronic Application through OPAL

With all of your documentation assembled, you may submit an application to become a principal through OPAL. The amount of time it takes to process the application varies depending on the Department’s workload, the time of year you submit your application, and other factors.

Once your application is approved, you’ll receive your School Administrator license, granting you the go-ahead to start working as a principal. It’s a rewarding position in and of itself, and the pay isn’t bad either.

School Principal Salary and Jobs in Nevada

Principals in Nevada earn a median annual income of $99,100. That’s significantly more than the state’s median household income, which stands at around $65,686 per year.

How much you’ll earn as a principal depends on where you work. We’ve broken down the median annual incomes for principals working across the state:

So, you’ll earn a respectable living. The question is, will there be job openings in the near future? Thankfully, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Jobs for principals and other administrators is projected to grow 15.2 percent between 2020 and 2030. Double-digit job growth is usually indicative of an in-demand industry.

How to Become a Superintendent in Nevada – District-Level Educational Leadership

To become a superintendent in Nevada, you don’t have to procure an additional license. You just have to maintain your School Administrator license throughout your tenure as a principal.

It goes without saying, but you will need a master’s degree or higher to serve as a superintendent in any district throughout Nevada. If you’re looking to lead a district with 30,000+ students, then pursuing an advanced degree isn’t a bad idea.

Why go for a doctorate? To become a superintendent of a district, you need to formally express your interest to the district’s Board of Trustees. In the wake of a job opening, the Board will receive dozens of applications from candidates who have their masters’. A doctorate will help you stand out.

Step 1. Obtain an Advanced Degree in Educational Leadership

A Doctor of Educational Leadership (Ed.L.D) will prepare you for the rigors of implementing top-down changes throughout the district you’re overseeing. Many of these programs take three years to complete, and often include a residency. You’ll also acquire knowledge of how non-public organizations in the education industry operate – from non-profits to private institutions.

Step 2. Express Your Interest to the District’s Board of Trustees

After obtaining your Ed.L.D, you can write a formal letter expressing your interest in an open superintendent position at any one of Nevada’s school districts.

Each Board’s selection process may differ depending on their policies. Some may not only require a series of interviews, but also evidence that you successfully passed a Praxis test. It really depends on them.

A helpful tip is to review a Board’s policies. If you’re serious about a position, you should know how the district manages debt, reviews teachers’ performance, assists students with developmental disabilities, and so forth. Use this knowledge during the interview process to introduce ideas as to how the district could run.

Superintendent Salary and Jobs in Nevada

What could you expect to make if a district’s Board of Trustees appoints you as a principal? The median annual salary for superintendents working in Nevada is $126,360. As we mentioned earlier, the projected number of educational administration jobs in the state is experiencing double-digit growth, so it’s not surprising districts are offering such generous pay to attract talent.

How does the salary fluctuate based on area? We’ve broken down the median annual income of superintendents working across the major areas of Nevada:

Educational leadership Degree Options in Nevada: Doctorate and Master’s in Educational Leadership

Nevada’s experiencing an era when it needs strong leaders willing to push the envelope; when innovative ideas are valued, and calculated risks are welcomed. All you need is the foundation to getting your foot in the door.

2021 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 March 2023.

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