Each state has slightly different rules about how to become a school superintendent. The regulations are established through the state legislature and through rules instituted by educational bodies within the state. In general, a school superintendent must be a teacher or must have a significant amount of educational experience in another field. The position is political in many areas and can refer to a single individual that oversees all of the schools in a state or a group of educators who each oversee a different school district.
The first step towards becoming a school superintendent in most states is to acquire some type of education degree. Most often this must be a master’s in education. It is also possible to qualify with a master’s in school administration in some areas. Completion of a master’s in education requires experience teaching in a school. Some school districts will consider promoting a superintendent who only holds a bachelor in education as long as the individual has sufficient teaching experience and a master’s degree in a business or an administrative major.
A school superintendent must traverse several tiers of certifications before becoming eligible to work in the position. A superintendent must hold a teaching certification in the state. It is also usually necessary for the superintendent to be certified as a principal which can require a certain number of years of teaching experience. A superintendent certification can then be applied for and earned. Each tier of certification requires a battery of standardized examinations that frequently include an oral exam. A superintendent must enroll in continuing education classes each year in order to maintain a valid certification.
A superintendent must have a passion for education and a love of learning. Some type of degree in administration or business can be very helpful since financial calculations will have to be made. It is important for a superintendent to be charismatic as well since part of the job will be dealing with the media, acting as a representative for the school district and speaking at large conferences. Excellent communications skills are necessary for writing public communications and creating concise plans for presentation to different governing bodies.
A school superintendent plays a pivotal role in most states. The superintendent oversees all of the schools in the state or in a district. Responsibilities include maintaining the safety of schools, dealing with teachers and unions, securing funding for the district and acting as the face of education in the state. The job also requires administrative work such as creating budgets, writing proposals, implementing changes to the schools and ensuring that students meet national testing standards. Some superintendents must also deal with politicians or other leaders on a weekly basis.
Finding a Position
Just becoming certified and meeting all of the requirements to become a superintendent does not guarantee a job. Most superintendents are promoted from within the ranks of the board of education. A governor can sometimes assign a superintendent as a political appointee. Part of the process of becoming a superintendent involves an assessment by peers and the members of the local board of education. They will assess community involvement, written proposals for improving the schools and also the demeanor of the applicant. References and performance will also be reviewed before a position is offered. There might be other requirements that individual states can implement that change how to become a school superintendent after applying.