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National Teacher
and Principal Survey
U.S. Department of Education NCES 2019-141
October 2019
Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary School Principals in the United States

The 2017–18 National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) is a state and nationally representative sample survey of public and private K–12 schools, principals, and teachers in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The following selected findings are from the Public and Private School Principal Data Files of the 2017–18 NTPS:

  • Race and ethnicity. Among public school principals during the 2017–18 school year, 78 percent were non-Hispanic White, 11 percent were non-Hispanic Black or African American, 9 percent were Hispanic, and 3 percent were another race/ethnicity.1 Among private school principals, 86 percent were non-Hispanic White, 5 percent were non-Hispanic Black or African American, 5 percent were Hispanic, and 4 percent were another race/ethnicity (see table).
  • Gender. Overall, 54 percent of public school principals were female. There were a higher percentage of public school principals who were female in primary schools (67 percent), than in middle schools, high schools, and combined schools (40 percent, 33 percent, and 43 percent, respectively). Overall, 58 percent of private school principals were female. There were a higher percentage of private school principals who were female in elementary schools (66 percent), than in secondary schools and combined schools (44 percent and 51 percent, respectively) (see table).
  • Education level. The most common highest degree reported for public school principals was a master’s degree (62 percent), followed by an education specialist or professional diploma (26 percent), a doctorate or first professional degree (11 percent), and a bachelor’s degree or less (2 percent). For private school principals, the most common highest degree reported was also a master’s degree (51 percent), followed by a bachelor’s degree or less (31 percent), and education specialist/professional diploma (11 percent), and a doctorate or first professional degree (8 percent) (see table).
  • Salary. Public school principals reported an average annual salary of $98,300. Public school principals in high schools reported higher salaries ($104,600) than principals in middle schools, primary schools, and combined schools ($101,200, $97,000, and $88,100, respectively). Private school principals reported an average annual salary of $72,500.2 Private school principals in secondary schools reported higher salaries ($87,600), than in combined schools and elementary schools ($74,000, and $67,200, respectively) (see table).
  • Years of experience. Public school principals reported having an average of 6.8 years of experience as a principal, of which an average of 4.2 years was spent in their current school. Principals in traditional public schools reported an average of 6.8 years of experience, and principals in public charter schools reported an average of 6.5 years of experience. Private school principals reported having an average of 9.7 years of experience as a principal, of which an average of 7.0 years was spent in their current school. Principals in private Catholic, other religious, and nonsectarian schools reported 9.5, 9.4, and 10.3 years of experience, respectively (see table).
  • Influence on school activities. Nationally, 93 percent of principals reported having a major influence on decisions concerning evaluation of teachers, with 96 percent of public school principals and 86 percent of private school principals reporting major influence. Additionally, 75 percent of principals nationwide reported having major influence on setting discipline policy, with 73 percent of public school principals and 83 percent of private school principals reporting major influence (see table).
  • Evaluation. Among public school principals, relatively more principals in traditional public schools were evaluated during the last school year than principals in public charter schools (79 percent and 69 percent, respectively). Relatively more private school principals in Catholic and nonsectarian schools (63 percent and 58 percent, respectively) were evaluated during the last school year than those in other religious schools (see table).
  • Professional development. Overall, 83 percent of all principals reported participating in any professional development activities in the 2016–17 school year.3 This includes 85 percent of public school principals and 77 percent of private school principals (see table).

1 Hispanic includes Latino. Other race/ethnicity includes American Indian/Alaska Native, non-Hispanic; Asian, non-Hispanic; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic; and Two or more races, non-Hispanic.
2 Private school principals who reported an annual salary of zero were excluded from the calculation of average salary.
3 The question asked if they participated in any professional development activities as a principal during the last school year (2016–17).