Education for you has never been just a profession. It’s a calling, and you’re proud to serve as a passionate and dedicated educator for Oregon’s public school system.
Educating Oregon’s PreK-12 public school students hasn’t been without its challenges, though. A lack of funding, inadequate per-pupil spending, and teacher shortages have long plagued the state. And most recently, mounting societal issues like homelessness and gun violence have prompted calls for better mental health resources and support and a greater focus on the social and emotional needs of both students and staff.
But these issues don’t deter you; instead, they motivate you to continue working toward a better tomorrow for Oregon’s system of public schools.
A move out of the classroom and into administration will allow you to make a difference in Oregon’s public education system in new and exciting ways. As a top-level educational leader, either at the building or district level, you’ll be poised for new opportunities, a bigger paycheck, and a stronger voice to address the most pressing issues.
Whether you’re starting out with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you’ll find a wealth of master’s, EdS, doctorate and post-master’s certificate programs in educational leadership and administration that are designed to prepare you for the next phase of your career in education.
How to Become a Principal in Oregon – School-level Educational Leadership
To become a principal in Oregon, you’ll need to earn a Principal Administrator License through the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC).
But first you’ll need at least three years of full-time experience (or six years of part-time experience) to become a principal in Oregon. The licensed experience must include working directly with students in one or more of the following positions: teacher, school social worker, school counselor, school psychologist, speech-language pathologist, school nurse, physical therapy, or occupational therapist.
Once you’ve met this requirement, you’ll be ready to take the necessary steps to become a principal in Oregon.
Step 1. Earn a Minimum of a Master’s Degree and Complete a Principal License Preparation Program
You’ll need a minimum of a master’s degree to become a principal in Oregon, and you’ll also need to complete a Commission-approved principal license preparation program (or out-of-state equivalent). Fortunately, many principal license preparation programs are offered as part of master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral degrees, which allow you to earn your graduate degree along with the coursework and training necessary for principal licensure in Oregon.
The principal licensure component of these programs includes a full-year practicum, along with courses in:
These programs are often designed as:
If you’ve already earned a master’s degree, a number of colleges and universities also offer post-master’s certificate programs leading to principal licensure in Oregon. In some instances, you can transfer some or all of the credits earned through these stand-alone programs to an educational specialist or doctoral degree.
Step 2. Take and Pass the Oregon Educator Licensure Assessment (ORELA) Administrator Exam
Once you’ve met the education and practical experience requirements, you must take and pass the Oregon Educator Licensure Assessment (ORELA) Administrator exam.
This exam is divided into two subtests:
Subtest I: Visionary Leadership and Instructional Improvement
Subtest I: Visionary Leadership and Instructional Improvement
You’ll take the exam at a Pearson VUE testing center near you.
Note: The Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Educational Environment exam has been suspended due to COVID. Applicants do not need to register for this exam at this time. Check with TSPC to receive the most up-to-date information on this exam.
Step 3. Apply for and Maintain a Principal Administrator License in Oregon
You’ll use the TSPC Online Licensing Application to apply for the Principal Administrator license. This license qualifies you to serve as a principal, vice principal, or associate principal, or in another building-level position in a PreK-12 Oregon public school district or education service district.
Note: The Principal Administrator license was formerly called an Initial, Basic, or Preliminary Administrator License. The title change and continuing education requirements changed for this license as of August 2022.
This license is a preliminary administrative license and is renewed every three years upon the completion of at least 90 verified professional development units or, if you’re working toward a higher degree and the Professional Administrator license, six graduate semester credits. The Principal Administrator license can be renewed continuously without working toward the Professional Administrator license.
School Principal Salary and Jobs in Oregon
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), principals in Oregon earned a median salary of $119,610 as of May 2021. The top earners in this profession earned about $127,060 during this time.
Among the state’s metropolitan areas, Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro came out on top for its median salary for principals, at $126,160, followed by the Bend-Redmond metro area, at $123,270. The Bend metro area also reported one of the top salaries for these educational leaders, at $130,510.
How to Become a Superintendent in Oregon – District-Level Educational Leadership
To become a superintendent in Oregon, you’ll need to earn a Professional Administrator License through the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC).
Before you can become a superintendent in Oregon, you’ll need to hold a Principal Administrator license (see above), and you’ll need to complete at least three years of full-time experience (or six years of part-time experience) in a school administrator position.
Once you meet these requirements, you can begin completing the steps to become a superintendent in Oregon.
Step 1. Complete an Advanced Program in School Administration
Now that you hold a master’s degree and your Principal Administrator license, you’ll need to continue your education by completing a Commission-approved advanced program in school administration (or out-of-state equivalent), either as a stand-alone program or as part of an educational specialist or doctoral degree.
When offered as part of a graduate degree, they are often designed as:
As standalone programs, they consist of about 27-30 credits that can be completed in about 18 months – 2 years. They feature hands-on practicums and coursework in topics such as:
The credits earned through many of the stand-alone advanced programs in school administration can be transferred to educational specialist or doctorate programs, thereby providing you with options for earning your educational specialist or doctorate degree in the future.
Step 2. Apply for and Maintain a Professional Administrator License
You’ll use the TSPC Online Licensing Application to apply for the Professional Administrator license. This license qualifies you to work in a district-wide administrative position as a superintendent or in other positions at the building or district level.
The Professional Administrator License is valid for five years and renewed upon the completion of at least 120 professional development units or eight graduate-level semester credits.
Superintendent Salary and Jobs in Oregon
According to the BLS, superintendents in Oregon earned about $132,930 as of May 2021. The Portland metro area reported one of the highest average salaries for superintendents at this time, at $159,890. Other metro areas reported salaries that more closely resembled the state average:
Educational Leadership Degree Options in Oregon: EdS, Doctorate, and Master’s in Educational Leadership
The future looks bright for Oregon’s principals and educators. In fact, in the ten years leading up to 2030, jobs for educational leaders and administrators are projected to grow by a whopping 23.1 percent, rising from 390 jobs in 2020 to 480 jobs in 2030. During this time, the state should see about 40 annual job openings due to a blend of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.
This couldn’t be better news for educators like you looking to make the transition into administration. And thanks to a growing number of master’s, educational specialist, and doctoral degrees in education administration and leadership, you’ll have no problem finding a program that aligns perfectly with your career plans. Plus, any of these programs are now offered in partially or fully online formats that deliver outstanding convenience and flexibility for working professionals like you.
School of Business, Leadership and Technology
MA in Leadership
George Fox University
College of Education
Ed.D with options to add on a Professional Administrator License or Principal License
Ed.D in Educational Leadership
Professional Administrator License
Lewis & Clark College
Graduate School of Education and Counseling
Ed.D with a concentration in PK-12 or Higher Education
Ed.S in Educational Administration
Certificate in Teacher Leadership for Equity and Social Justice
University of Portland
School of Education
Professional Administrator License
Higher Education and Student Affairs License
Ed.D (School leadership and development-principal licensure courses, Organizational leadership and development-professional administrator licensure courses, Higher education and student affairs)
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.