Who Should Consider an Administrative Leadership Certificate or Licensure?

W. Stephen Parker
W. Stephen Parker
Middle/high school principal; M.A. in Educational Leadership
A student and her mother sit in a meeting with a school leader.

In asking, “who should consider an administrative leadership certificate or licensure,” one should evaluate their professional and personal goals. Not every educator is gifted in the area of leadership; this does not mean they are not excellent educators, it simply means not every educator is meant to be in a school administrator role. Above all, the perspective administrative candidate must be a person who puts the safety and educational needs of the students first.

What Skills and Competencies are Gained in an Administrative Leadership Certificate or Licensure Program?

There are numerous skills and competencies to be gained through an administrative leadership program, for a certificate or licensure. Here are a few that are incorporated in most administrative programs.

School Law

Knowledge of school law and a desire to stay up to date on current laws is imperative for anyone choosing to become an administrator. One would be foolish to enter into this career without knowing legally what can and cannot be done within the educational setting.

How to Involve All Stakeholders

Any individual seeking an administrative position must be willing to involve and communicate with all stakeholders in the educational realm of all their students. This can and does involve:

  • Students
  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Fellow administrators (superintendents and school board members)

Further, community leaders and school supporters play an essential role in successful schools. Good licensure programs teach perspective administrators how to effectively work with these stakeholders as the need arises. The program also teaches how to incorporate stakeholders effectively.

Other skills gained through a good licensure program include, but are not limited to:

  • Day-to-day school operation
  • Class schedules
  • Event scheduling
  • Crises management
  • Emergency drills

Additionally, prospective administrators should learn a basic competency in all programs. That basic competency is, “never ask someone in your building or venue to do something you are unwilling to do yourself.” All good licensure programs should stress that you lead first by example as the educational leader.

What Positions Require Administrative Leadership Certification or Licensure?

Athletic Director

The director of athletics is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the athletic department. This position requires attention to detail such as:

  • Eligibility
  • Scheduling
  • Equipment purchasing
  • Field maintenance
  • Transportation needs
  • Security

The athletic director is also responsible for hiring and firing personnel. The athletic director generally reports to the superintendent on the high school level and the school president on the community college and university level.

The athletic director is responsible for conflict resolution within the athletic department, including but not limited to parent/coaches conflicts. One of the most critical skills that can point back to their licensure curriculum is that of listening. As the director, “the buck stops here”, and an excellent athletic director takes the time to listen to all stakeholders before making important decisions.

Special Needs Director

The director of special needs is a unique position because not only does the department answer to state statutes but also under stringent federal laws. The director of special needs must be fluent in both state and federal laws related to the administration of special needs students. The director must call upon the skills and competencies learned in the licensure process, especially with stakeholders’ involvement.

Individual Educational Program (IEP) meetings are forthright in who should be in attendance and have a voice in determining the educational needs of special needs students. The director is responsible for ensuring that all of a student’s IEP is being implemented at all times. As with other administrators, this person must also attend to staffing, resource needs, and the overall day-to-day operation of the program. Additionally, there are many reports that must be submitted that are time-sensitive and ongoing.

Assistant Principal

The assistant principal is just what the title suggests. They are the assistant to the principal and primarily the person who implements the operations of the school at the direction of the principal. Therefore, the assistant principal must be well versed in the skills and competencies learned through the licensure process.

Additionally, the assistant principal must be prepared to be the acting principal in the principal’s absence. As with all administrative positions, the assistant principal must be adept in handling all stakeholders in the educational process.

School Principal

The school principal is the head of operations of their school. This person should draw from the skills learned through licensure in all areas of the educational process. One major skill the principal should have learned is delegation of authority. Once a principal realizes that they cannot do everything themselves, they take a giant step toward becoming an effective leader.

One of the major tasks of the principal is that of evaluation of current staff. As the principal, one of the most important skills to be implemented through this process is the art of listening. The principal must listen, evaluate what was said, and ultimately make decisions. Like the athletic director, the principal must have the “the buck stops here” attitude.

Assistant Superintendent

The assistant superintendent is similar to the assistant principal in that they are mainly engaged in carrying out the directives of the superintendent. This is different from the assistant principal because this is for the entire district, not just one school. They are also prepared to step in as superintendent in the absence of the superintendent himself.


The superintendent is the school district manager. Everything that happens in the district, good or bad, is under their guidance. Delegation of authority to subordinates is imperative in the success of the superintendent. As with the other above-mentioned position, all the skills are learned through the licensure program. The superintendent must call upon their subordinates and be very clear about their expectations. The superintendent must have staff that they can trust to implement their programs as they have directed.

So, who should seek a certificate or license in the area of administration? A candidate of this is a person who puts the safety and educational needs of the students first. If the person has this attitude, everything else can fall into place.

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