How to Become a Superintendent

How to Become a SuperintendentUnfortunately, becoming a superintendent depends on many factors that go beyond academic credentials, work experience, and training. In most states, superintendents are appointed by some of the most powerful figures in the education system.

As such, politics may be involved. Consequently, if you are serious about a career as a superintendent, you need to cultivate close relations with members of the school board, the governor’s office, local politicians, and other stakeholders in the educational system.



Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Naturally, the more education you have, the better a chance you will stand to find a job as a superintendent. As a general rule, school superintendents have a PhD or some other high graduate degree. It is not unheard of, though, for a superintendent to merely have a masters.

Each state stipulates the minimum amount of education a superintendent must have.


In most cases, a superintendent must have supervisory or management experience in an education setting. For that reason, in many instances superintendents are either former principals or have occupied such similar occupations. In some states, a superintendent must also have been a teacher/instructor for a minimum number of years

Contract Position

Superintendents are usually contracted positions, meaning that you will have to sign a contract, usually for a specified number of years. You, of course, have to meet the qualifications before being able to sign such a contract. For example, you may have to be certified or licensed as a superintendent.

School Board—Working Closely With

A superintendent works hand in hand with a school board. In fact, a school board may help designate the duties of the superintendent and, if there are any problems, it may be up to the school board or (in some cases) the governor to deal with any deficiencies or complications involving the superintendent.

Teacher and Principal Supervision

Superintendents generally oversee principals at local schools. They also help set guidelines for the hiring of teachers by principals. When problems arise with teachers, it is superintendents who may have to step in to resolve conflicts. As such, superintendents have to have a very close connection with all school staff, especially administrators.

Enforcement of State and Federal Laws

As a superintendent, it will be up to you to make sure that initiatives, policies and laws passed by the state and the federal government are properly implemented in local schools. When No child Left Behind was passed, for example, it fell upon superintendents to see to it, the law was duly enforced.

What to do In Preparation of Becoming a Superintendent

After becoming a teacher and/or an administrator, you can then seriously consider going for a superintendent position. Some of the things you can do to start the journey include:

  • Establish close relationships with school administrators
  • Contact professional organizations for information and guidance
  • Obtain the advice of an attorney with educational setting legal training
  • Attend annual conferences for superintendents
  • Get and review copies of sample superintendent contracts
  • Review superintendent job descriptions
  • Seek the advice of career counselors to see what course you can take in college that will best prepare you for a job as superintendent


While becoming a superintendent is a noble goal, you will need to do your “homework” very carefully. For instance, you will need to complete a bachelor’s and then a master’s. You will need to obtain licensing as a teacher—then you will need to teach for a period of time.

Your chances of becoming a superintendent will be greatly enhanced if you also become a school administrator. Finally, after finding out what the requirements are for a superintendent, work assiduously to meet those requirements.

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