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

Written by Rebecca Turley

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West Virginia’s public school system is one of persistent struggles and relentless roadblocks. A small state budget, high rates of poverty and drug abuse, and educator shortages have plagued this state for decades. But don’t count the Mountain State out just yet. Recent bills here aimed at increasing the number of teacher’s aides in the classrooms, increasing literary rates, and improving teacher pay are just some of the ways the state is making strides towards a brighter future for its public school system.

And according to the Early Education Research’s (NIEER) 2022 State of Preschool Yearbook, West Virginia is now ranked among the top states in the country for its Pre-K education efforts. The state’s highly regarded universal Pre-K, which is available in all 55 counties at no cost to families, is a shining example of the ways West Virginia is committed to doing better moving forward and creating a public education system that is positioned for long-term success.

You’re a West Virginia educator, a champion and tireless advocate for the state’s public school system. West Virginia is where you’ve made your home, and it’s where your passion for education runs deep. In fact, it’s where you’ll stay, even as you look forward to the next phase of your career. Your dedication to West Virginia’s PreK-12 students remains steadfast, but this new chapter calls for making a move into educational administration and leadership.

As you begin exploring a move into educational administration, you’ll find a wealth of master’s, educational specialist, and doctorate degrees that are designed with your career goals in mind. These programs, many of which are aligned with state standards to become a principal or superintendent, serve as the first step in your career evolution and are just what you need to prepare for a career that’s ripe with opportunities and a bigger paycheck. 

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

To become a principal in West Virginia, you must earn a Professional Administrative Certificate, Principal endorsement through the West Virginia Department of Education, Office of Certification.

But first you’ll need to have at least three years of management-level or teaching experience. Once you meet this requirement, you can begin taking the steps necessary to become a principal in West Virginia.

Step 1. Earn a Minimum of a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership

To become a principal in West Virginia, you must earn, at a minimum, a master’s degree in educational leadership that includes a state-approved educational leadership program. These programs, which consist of about 36 credits and two years of full-time study, include all of the coursework and practical experiences necessary for certification as a school principal in West Virginia.

Coursework often includes:

Educational leadership graduate degrees in West Virginia are often designed as:

You must earn a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify for certification.

If you already have a master’s degree, you may satisfy the requirements for certification by earning a post-graduate certificate in educational leadership. These programs contain about 18 credits and include all necessary coursework and practical requirements to qualify for certification. Many are offered through partially or fully online formats that align with the needs of today’s busy, working educators.

Step 2. Take and Pass the Educational Leadership: Administration and Supervision Praxis Exam

Once you graduate from an approved master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral degree in educational leadership, you’ll qualify to take the Educational Leadership: Administration and Supervision (5411) Praxis exam, which is administered through Educational Testing Service (ETS).

This exam is designed to assess your knowledge in the following topics:

You’ll schedule to take the exam online or through a Prometric testing center near you.

Step 3. Complete the Online Portion of the Evaluation Leadership Institute (ELI)

The West Virginia Department of Education’s Evaluation Leadership Institute (ELI) is a two-part training program that’s designed to prepare principals and central office administrators to evaluate personnel effectively. You’ll take the first part of the program, which consists of a brief online course, to obtain your Provisional Administrative Certification. You’ll register online through the West Virginia Department of Education for this course.

Step 4. Apply for the Provisional Administrative Certificate – Principal Endorsement

Once you’ve successfully passed the Educational Leadership: Administration and Supervision Praxis exam and completed the online ELI training course, you can apply for your Provisional Administrative Certificate with Principal endorsement using the WVDE Certification Portal.

Step 5. Complete the In-Person ELI Training Within 90 Days of Employment

Once you are hired as a principal in West Virginia, you’ll need to complete the in-person training portion of the Evaluation Leadership Institute (ELI) program. You must complete this portion of the ELI within 90 days of employment.

These in-person training sessions are held throughout the year, usually in Morgantown or Charlestown. You’ll register for the session of your choice.

Step 6. Convert Your Provisional Administrative Certificate to a Professional Administrative Certificate

You’ll apply for a five-year Initial Professional Administrative Certificate after you’re employed as a principal and have completed the in-person ELI training program.

Step 7. Upgrade and Maintain Your Professional Administrative Certificate

Your Initial Professional Administrative Certificate is valid for five years and can be renewed upon the completion of at least six semester hours of eligible coursework.

Once you have at least five years of educational experience, with at least two years of experience in your administrative endorsement and one year of experience under your master’s degree, you can apply for a Permanent Administrative Certificate.

School Principal Salary and Jobs in West Virginia

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school principals in West Virginia earned a median salary of $77,340 as of May 2022. The top earners in this field earned about $81,770 during this time.

Median salaries for principals are fairly consistent throughout the state, with the exception of the Wheeling metro area, where they earned significantly more, at $82,000. The top earners in this metro area earned about $98,110, followed by those in the Weirton metro area, who earned about $97,970 during this time.

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

To become a superintendent in West Virginia, you’ll need to add a Superintendent endorsement to your Administrative Certificate (see above – How to Become a Principal in West Virginia) through the West Virginia Department of Education, Office of Certification.

But first you’ll need to have at least ten years of administrative experience at the county or school level. To hold an Administrative Certificate in West Virginia, your experience must be as a principal or supervisor.

Once you achieve these requirements, you can begin taking the steps necessary to become a superintendent in West Virginia.

Step 1. Successfully Complete the WVDE New and Aspiring Superintendent Leadership Training Program

Before you can participate in the WVDE’s New and Aspiring Superintendent Leadership Training Program, you must:

You’ll apply for this training program through the WV Association of School Administrators. You must complete at least six sessions to qualify for the Superintendent endorsement.

Step 2. Apply to Add a Superintendent Endorsement to Your Administrative Certificate

You’ll apply to add the Superintendent endorsement to your existing West Virginia Administrative Certificate through the WVDE Certification Portal.

Superintendent Salary and Jobs in West Virginia

According to the BLS, superintendents in West Virginia earned about $92,660 as of May 2022. However, superintendents working in the state’s metro areas earned more, on average, than those working in other parts of the state. The metro areas of Weirton and Wheeling reported the highest average salaries for superintendents during this time, at $113,190 and $105,350, respectively.

Other average salaries for superintendents according to metro area included:

Educational Leadership Degree Options in West Virginia: Doctorate and Master’s in Educational Leadership

Job prospects for West Virginia’s superintendents remain strong in the coming years. In the ten years leading up to 2030, the number of superintendent jobs is projected to increase by 7.7 percent. During this time, the state should see about 120 annual job openings for this profession due to a blend of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.

Whether you have your sights set on a career as a principal or superintendent, there’s no better time than now to begin exploring the many ways in which a new role in educational administration and leadership can benefit your long-term career goals. And thanks to a wide array of master’s, educational specialist, and doctoral programs in educational administration and leadership, both in West Virginia and across the country, it’s easier and more convenient than ever to earn the degree that will take your career in education to the next level.

Wheeling University

Accreditation: HLC

wheeling university

MA.Ed in Educational Leadership

Also offers:

MA.Ed in Educational Leadership-Instructional Leadership Track

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.

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