2010 Principal Salary Survey
Salaries Slow, But Principals Still Get Boost in Purchasing Power
The news is not all bad for pr incipals and assistant pr incipals this year when it comes to their annual salaries. Although salary increases were slightly lower in 2009–10 than in previous years, a slowing Consumer Price Index (CPI) led to an increase in purchasing power, according to an annual survey conducted by Educational Research Service (ERS). The CPI—the Department of Labor’s measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services—actually fell by 0.4% this year, allowing principals’ salaries to go further.
Over a longer period—from 2004–05 to 2009–10—an increase in purchasing power for principals and assistant principals is also evident. Using salaries of senior high school principals as an example, the 2004–05 average salary for this group ($86,938) would be worth about $98,761 today. This is $3,625 less than the 2009–10 average pay for senior high school principals. Thus, on average, the purchasing power of salaries of senior high school principals is higher than five years ago.
Current Salary Comparisons
According to the results of the National Survey of Salaries and Wages in Public Schools, the mean (or “average”) of the salaries reported by school districts for junior high/middle level principals in 2009–10 is $95,003. For senior high school principals, the average is $102,387. Additionally, the average salaries paid assistant principals in 2009–10 are $79,164 (junior high and middle level) and $83,074 (senior high level).
Differences by the geographic region in which a district is located, the enrollment size of the district, and the per-pupil expenditure level of the school district are also apparent. When viewed by geographic region, the data show principals residing in the Mid-East tend to have the highest average salaries, while those living in the Southwest or Rocky Mountains tend to have the lowest. For example, high school principals in the Mid-East earn an average salary of $122,119—19.3% more than the average salary for high school principals across all of the regions. In contrast, the average salary of high school principals in the Rocky Mountains is $89,501—12.6% lower than the average salary overall. For assistant principals, those working in the Mid-East region tend to earn the highest salaries, and those working in the Southwest tend to have the lowest salaries.
As one might expect, a school district’s enrollment size also affects principals’ salaries. The data demonstrate that principals and assistant principals from districts with fewer than 2,500 pupils tend to be paid substantially less than their counterparts from larger districts. To illustrate this point, senior high school principals from districts with larger pupil enrollments (i.e., 2,500 or more) take home salaries in excess of $100,000, on average. Those from districts with less than 2,500 pupils, however, take home salaries averaging $87,550—over 20% less than their larger counterparts.
When examined in terms of the per-pupil expenditure level of a district, principals and assistant principals from districts spending $11,000 or more per pupil tend to receive higher salaries than their counterparts in districts with lower per-pupil expenditure levels, although the impact is less than that seen for district enrollment. For example, junior high/middle level principals from districts with per-pupil expenditure levels of less than $8,000 earn an average salary of $88,080—7.3% less than the average salaries overall for junior high/middle level principals.
However, junior high and middle level principals from districts with per-pupil expenditure levels of $11,000 or more earn an average salary of $102,895— about 8.3% higher than the average salary for this group overall. Similar patterns exist for senior high school principals and for assistant principals.
Salaries & Wages Paid Professional and Support Personnel in Public Schools, 2009–10, conducted since 1973 by ERS, randomly selects a stratified sample of U.S. school districts of varying pupil enrollment sizes (e.g., 25,000 or more; 10,000 to 24,999; 2,500 to 9,999; and 300 to 2,499) for participation in the survey. Average salaries paid to personnel in 33 professional and support positions are collected. For the 2009–10 school year, 812 school districts throughout the United States reported data. NL
Prepared by Chris Licciardi, ERS issues analyst. ERS is the nonprofit research foundation founded by NASSP and six other national organizations of school management to provide objective research to education leaders and the public. Copyrighted in 2010 by ERS with all rights reserved. To order Salaries & Wages Paid Professional and Support Personnel in Public Schools, 2009–10, call 800-791- 9308 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 States included in geographic region: New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT); Mideast (DE, DC, MD, NJ, NY, PA); Southeast (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV); Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI); Plains (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD); Southwest (AZ, NM, OK, TX); Rocky Mountains (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY); Far West (AK, CA, HI, NV, OR, WA).
2 Enrollment is defined as all pupils in grades K–12. Half-day kindergartners are counted as ½ pupils.
3 “Per-pupil expenditure” is defined as the amount of the school district’s general operating budget (excluding capital outlay, debt services, and preK and adult education funds) divided by the enrollment of the school district.
* Percent change in CPI is for the calendar year beginning in the year shown (e.g., 2009– 10=2009 CPI year).
** Data categorized by geographic region and perpupil expenditure level may be subject to considerable sampling and response variation and should be used only as general indicators of the current relationships among the categories. These data are not appropriate for year-to-year trends.