How to Become a Principal in Ohio: Your 6-Step Guide

If you’re an educator, one way to advance your career beyond the classroom is by pursuing a job as a school principal.

This article describes six key steps you’ll take to get a principal’s license in Ohio. But before we get into the details, take a moment for self-reflection.

Do You Have What It Takes To Become a School Principal?

You know from interacting with principals that they oversee every aspect of a school. They interact with teachers, staff, and parents, and are responsible for budgets, safety protocols, academic curricula, regulatory compliance, and more.

Principals must be able to work collaboratively, make high-stakes decisions, resolve conflicts, and perform with integrity in high-pressure situations. Principals are role models who set the tone for the school’s culture.

To be an effective principal, you need:

  • Strong leadership abilities
  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills
  • Problem-solving capabilities
  • A never-fail passion for education

If this sounds appealing to you, pursuing a career as a principal can be a rewarding next step in your teaching career.

Why Licensure Matters

Your principal license demonstrates you’re qualified and equipped with the proper education, training, and experience to lead a school.

School leadership standards have been adopted in all 50 states. These standards specify the qualifications for working as a principal in that state.

Your license shows you met your state’s standards, which in Ohio means having a graduate degree, completing an accredited preparation program, and passing an exam.

Not only does licensure for principals promote high professional standards, but it also assures parents and the community that their school leaders are competent.

Who Issues the Ohio License?

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) issues licenses to school principals in Ohio in keeping with state law and the Ohio Standards for Principals.

ODE establishes the requirements, oversees the licensing process, and is responsible for disciplining licensees should that become necessary.

Six Steps to Become a School Principal in Ohio

High level, here are the steps you’ll take – from earning your graduate degree to  passing a background check and paying the licensure fee.

#1 – Get Your Graduate Degree

The first step to becoming a school principal in Ohio is to earn an advanced degree from an accredited university. Most states require licensed principals to have a graduate degree in educational leadership, administration, or a related field. Typical graduate courses cover school finance, school law, instructional supervision, and other topics. The University of Cincinnati’s (UC) Master of Education in Educational Leadership online program includes all these topics. If you’re seeking a principal’s license in Ohio and already hold a graduate degree outside of education, the state offers an alternative pathway to licensure.

#2 – Complete a Principal Preparation Program

Next, you must complete an approved principal preparation program that meets Ohio requirements. These comprehensive programs typically last 1–2 years and prepare you for the principal role with relevant coursework, internships, and field experience. UC’s fully online educational leadership master’s program offers a Principal Track Endorsement that integrates state-approved principal preparation into your academic studies. This program concentration allows you to complete your graduate degree concurrently with your preparation program.

#3 – Get a Letter of Recommendation

You’ll need a recommendation from the dean or head of teacher education at the institution where you complete your principal preparation program. This letter endorses you for licensure and is a critical component of your licensure application package in Ohio.

#4 – Pass the State Exam

Pass the Ohio Assessment for Educators licensure exam #015, Educational Leadership — an exam that tests your competency in critical areas of educational leadership like organizational management, instructional leadership, and ethics.

#5 – Log at least Two Years of Teaching Experience

You’ll need to document two or more years of teaching experience under a standard or professional teaching license for the ages and grade levels your principal license specifies. Ohio principal licenses are specific for three age groups: 3 to 12 (pre-K–grade 6), 8 to 14 (grades 4–9), and 10 to 21 (grades 5–12).

#6 – Pass a Background Check and Pay the Licensure Fee

Principals must undergo state and federal criminal background checks like other professionals. You’ll also need to pay an application fee to be issued your license. (Prices are subject to change, so check again when ready for this step.)

What Happens After Licensure?

Continuing education improves leadership skills and keeps your knowledge current. Your Ohio principal’s license will need to be renewed every five years. Renewal requires completing additional education and paying a renewal fee. You must complete six semester hours of coursework or 180 contact hours relevant to your license.

Is Ohio’s Principal License Recognized in Other States?

Many states have reciprocity agreements with Ohio to streamline obtaining your principal license there. But requirements vary considerably from state to state. If you hold an Ohio license and wish to work as a principal in another state, begin your research by contacting the state’s Department of Education to determine whether your Ohio principal’s license is recognized there.

If you’re already licensed as a principal in another state and would like to work in Ohio, contact the ODE about an alternative pathway for meeting Ohio requirements. You can submit your credentials for review to see if you qualify for a comparable Ohio license. Whether you’re transferring a principal license to or from another state, be aware that additional steps may be required to meet the state’s prerequisites and/or criteria for licensure.

Ready to Begin Your Journey to Become a Licensed Principal in Ohio?

Obtaining a license to work as a school principal takes dedication and preparation. UC’s master’s degree in Educational Leadership (Principal Track) is an ideal way to concurrently fulfill the graduate degree and principal preparation program requirements for obtaining your principal license in Ohio.

Your principal license opens the door to a rewarding and challenging career as a school administrator where you can share your passion for education and your commitment to excellent leadership while positively impacting young lives.

To take the next step and get more information about this program, connect online with a UC Enrollment Services Advisor. If you’d like to speak with someone immediately, call (866) 629-6075 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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