Debra Mercora Superintendent NJ
Debra Mercora NJ

Pathways to Educational Excellence: Career Insights for Aspiring Superintendents

Educators who are passionate about building excellent, vibrant school districts might start thinking about life beyond the classroom. A career in educational leadership is a wonderful way to make a difference in the lives of students through a career in administration and management. That said, there is a clear pathway for one to follow to evolve from teacher to superintendent. Below, Debra Mercora Superintendent NJ provides guidance and tips for educators aspiring to become superintendents, outlining the necessary qualifications, skills, and career progression.

Skills That Make a Good Superintendent

Before you go down the expansive – and potentially expensive – path of becoming a superintendent, it’s smart to do a personal check-in to see if this leadership role is right for you. Because superintendents interact with a wide variety of people, including students, parents, teachers, principals, and the school board, it’s vital to have strong written and oral communication skills.

The superintendent will be responsible for keeping the public informed about the school’s progress. As a leader, you’ll also need good problem-solving ability, decision-making skills, and will need to be comfortable with and proficient in financial elements like budgeting, accounting, and even fundraising.

Pursue an Advanced Degree

Most superintendent roles will call for a graduate degree, so you will need to build out the time and budget to go back to school. Certain districts – especially the more competitive ones – will require the superintendent to have a doctorate degree. Consider pursuing a doctoral study in education or, rather than a Ph.D., go for an Ed.D. that focuses in the area of organizational leadership, targeting the intersection of education and business.

Gain Leadership Experience in an Administrative Role

Requirements vary by state, but most certifications will expect the aspiring superintendent to have at least two to five years of experience in another administrative role, such as vice principal or principal.

These leadership positions are great steppingstones to superintendent work, allowing one to build their leadership skills and develop a deeper understanding of the educational system and how to manage a school staff. There is also often a need for an assistant superintendent, which is a great position for one to naturally progress to the final step.

Debra Mercora Superintendent NJ

Meet the State Certification Requirements

Again, these requirements will vary by state, but most states expect superintendents to get a certification in addition to their graduate and/or doctoral work and administrative experience. Some states have their own processes, while others may rely on exams provided by Educational Testing Services (ETS). ETS has several assessments available including the School Superintendent Assessment (SSA) and the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA). Check to see what is required in your state. One will need to pass the requisite exams before even applying for superintendent positions.

In Conclusion

Teachers with the right set of leadership skills who wish to take on the ultimate educational leadership role of superintendent must pursue a graduate or doctorate degree, gain several years of administrative experience, and meet the state certification requirements in order to be considered for the position.