Systemwide education reform has taken center stage in Rhode Island, and legislators are stepping up and taking accountability for everything from an aging educational infrastructure to sharp declines in student outcomes. More than $330 million has been earmarked for school construction projects… a continued push for universal PreK is gaining steam… and an update to the formula that determines how state funding is allocated to the state’s schools are just a few of the changes being made to ensure that Rhode Island’s public education system yields strong student outcomes and remains competitive with its New England neighbors.
This couldn’t be better news for educators like you with aspirations of taking your passion for education into top-levels positions in leadership and administration. Moving into a principal or superintendent role will allow you to reach new heights professionally and continue your commitment to ensuring a better tomorrow for the state’s more than 130,000 public school students.
Whether you hold a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, you’ll find a wealth of graduate-level programs, both in Rhode Island and throughout the country, aimed at preparing you for this next step in your career. You already have the passion, dedication, and experience – now it’s time to earn the master’s, educational specialist (EdS), or doctoral degree in educational leadership that will qualify you for a building- or district-level position in Rhode Island’s public school system.
How to Become a Principal in Rhode Island – School-level Educational Leadership
You’ll need to earn a Building Level Administrator PK-12 Certificate through the Rhode Island Department of Education to become a principal in Rhode Island.
But first you’ll need to have at least three years of documented PK -12 professional experience. Once you meet these requirements, you’ll be able to begin completing the steps to become a principal in Rhode Island.
Step 1. Complete a Minimum of a Master’s Degree and a Rhode Island-Approved Program
You will need to complete both a minimum of a master’s degree and a Rhode Island-approved program to become a principal in Rhode Island. Fortunately, many approved educator preparation programs leading to a Building-Level Administrator Certificate are embedded into education leadership and administration graduate programs, thereby allowing you to satisfy both of these requirements simultaneously. These programs are often designed as:
Rhode Island-approved programs include all the necessary coursework and practical experiences for certification, including a 300-hour (year-long) internship/practicum.
Fast-Track Principal Expert Residency Preliminary Certificate Option
If you are an educator with at least 10 years of experience and you hold a master’s degree, you may be eligible for the Fast-Track Principal Expert Residency Preliminary Certificate.
To qualify for the Fast-Track Principal Expert Residency Preliminary Certificate, you’ll need to have at least 10 years of experience as an educator or support professional, and you must have achieved “highly effective” or “effective” evaluation ratings. You must also be able to provide proof of a record of leadership in your role.
You must also take and pass the School Leaders Licensure exam (see Step 2) OR show the completion of the following coursework as part of your master’s degree to qualify for this fast-track preliminary certificate:
Step 2. Take and Pass the School Leaders Licensure Exam
You’ll need to take and pass the Praxis School Leaders Licensure Assessment (6990), which is administered through Educational 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 and Maintain Your Building-Level Administrator Certificate
You’ll apply for a Building-Level Administrator PK-12 Certificate —a professional certificate that’s valid for five years and is renewed upon the completion of at least 60 Professional Learning Units (PLUs) to become a principal in Rhode Island.
Fast-Track Principal Expert Residency Preliminary Certificate Application and Renewal
The Fast-Track Principal Expert Residency Preliminary Certificate is an initial certificate that’s valid for one year and may be renewed up to three times. During this time, you must complete a year-long (300 hours) internship where you’re currently employed and complete ONE of the following (depending on what you have already completed):
During your first renewal cycle, you must complete a RIDE-approved leadership development program, which is offered through a number of providers.
Once you meet the above requirements, you’ll be able to apply for the Building-Level Administrator PK-12 Fast Track Certificate – a professional, five-year certificate that can be renewed upon the completion of at least 60 Professional Learning Units (PLUs).
School Principal Salary and Jobs in Rhode Island
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), principals in Rhode Island earned a median salary of $100,010 as of May 2021. The top-earning principals in the state earned about $125,520 at that time.
The large metro Providence-Warwick metro area reported a higher median salary than the state, at $102,780. The Providence Public School District oversees 37 schools and serves more than 22,000 students. Of the 3,200 professionals who work here, about 2,000 are educators and another 600 work directly to support students and families.
How to Become a Superintendent in Rhode Island – District-Level Educational Leadership
You’ll need to earn a Superintendent of Schools Certificate through the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) to become a superintendent in Rhode Island.
But before you can begin taking the steps to become a superintendent in Rhode Island, you’ll need to hold a Building Level Administrator PK-12 Certificate (see above – How to Become a Principal in Rhode Island) or have significant leadership experience in a school, school district, education organization, or in an organization other than a school (e.g., government, military, or private sector organizations).
Step 1. Meet the Education/Competency Requirements for Certification
Because you already hold a Building Level Administrator PK-12 Certificate, you’ll have already earned, at a minimum, a master’s degree. Now it’s time to earn the advanced education that you’ll need to meet the requirements to become a superintendent in Rhode Island.
There are two ways you can qualify to earn the Superintendent of Schools Certificate:
Earn a master's degree or above that includes at least 36 semester hours of graduate level coursework in:
Provide evidence that you have met the competencies of the RI Standards for Educational Leadership:
You may choose to advance your education at this time and earn an educational specialist or doctoral degree in education administration and leadership that includes the above coursework. These programs are often designed as:
Step 2. Apply for and Maintain a District Level Administrator – Superintendent of Schools Certificate
You’ll apply for a Superintendent of Schools (12016) Certificate —a professional certificate that’s valid for five years and is renewed upon the completion of at least 60 Professional Learning Units (PLUs).
Superintendent Salary and Jobs in Rhode Island
According to the BLS, superintendents in Rhode Island earned about $127,100 as of May 2021. However, superintendents in the Providence-Warwick metro area earned a much higher average salary, at $150,330.
Educational Leadership Degree Options in Rhode Island: EdS, Doctorate, and Master’s in Educational Leadership
Good things are happening in Rhode Island’s public school system, which creates exciting opportunities for educators looking to advance their careers and take on new positions in educational administration and leadership.
In the ten years leading up to 2030, the number of principal and superintendent jobs is projected to increase by 12.5%. During this ten-year period, the state expects to see about 10 annual job openings for principals and superintendents due to a blend of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.
Whether you’re looking to earn a master’s, educational specialist, or doctorate degree in educational leadership or administration, you’ll find a growing number of colleges and universities offering graduate programs that will get you where you want to be. And many of these programs are offered in partially or fully online formats that make earning your graduate degree easier and more convenient than ever.
M.Ed in School Leadership
Master’s in Higher Education
Graduate Certificate in Sports Administration
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.