Leadership of a school district is a rewarding and challenging job for the school district superintendent. There are a varied group of superintendents throughout the education system, with differing backgrounds and education.

What is a School District Superintendent?

The school district superintendent is the top executive in the school district, and manages the district the way a CEO would manage a corporation. They work with school leaders and determine best practices and improvements needed to best serve the students. The school district superintendent should have a clear vision for the district, be an institutional leader, be an effective communicator, and be a good listener. They support the principals of all the schools in their district. The principals are in the schools every day and are face-to-face with the students and faculty.

Qualifications and Education

Each school district establishes the qualifications for superintendents in their regions, but there is a set of skills that is common among most districts, according to the Houston Chronicle. A master’s degree is often the minimum education requirement for the position. The degree can be in business, education, or a related field as long as it was awarded through an accredited institution. Many school district superintendents attain their doctorate of education while in the position. Some states require specific superintendent certification that may require passing an assessment in order to hold the position. A background in teaching, and in being a principal, is a common trait among current school district superintendents. They are the liaison to the state in which their district resides, as well as a contact to the city boards of education and the federal department of education. The superintendent should be as comfortable speaking to a room of people as they are speaking one-on-one with a politician.


Each state has an organization that can serve as a resource for superintendents. There is also a national organization, the AASA, or the School Superintendents Association. This group of administrators serves as a resource and an advocacy group for legislation and policy needs.

Communication With a State Superintendent

According to Mike Flanigan, the former State Superintendent for the State of Michigan, a superintendent should have been a principal within the district, but should have at the very least been a teacher in the district. He believes the best superintendents have a combination of education and a history of coaching in addition to a master’s degree in education.

Related Resource: Educational Consultant

As a School District Superintendent, you cannot be afraid to make a commitment to the students and administrative staff that you work with. It is a challenging career, but will be incredibly rewarding to see positive change within the education system. To make a difference in people’s lives is a main focus of the school district superintendent.