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3 Certification Options for the MSEd in Educational Leadership

Whether you aspire to become an educational administrator, a school principal or curriculum coordinator, a higher education certification should be on your horizon. The University of Maine offers a comprehensive Master of Science in Education program in Educational Leadership. With three different certification strands entirely online, the program is tailored to fit the individual needs of each aspiring PK-12 educational leader. In addition, the MSEd is aligned with the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL), and graduates achieve the academic qualifications needed to satisfy Section C of administrator requirements.

Our students learn research-based instructional techniques while applying the theory to real-world scenarios. This prepares them to better face the everyday challenges of the educational ecosystem. An internship is also part of the required curriculum, which includes 240 hours of field experience.

The following are three different concentrations and future career potential associated with each:

  1. School Principal: Maine Building Administration Certification (040)

To become a school principal, you will need to master a variety of skills. As noted by Michael Roberts from The Balance Careers, “In any given day the principal can be a curriculum consultant, budget analyst, public relations representative, mediator, disciplinarian, and manager.” The principal is the figure who makes the tough decisions, such as how funds will be spent and which will be the new hires. A successful professional in this field needs to be able to put themselves in the shoes of another person constantly, as they are the point of contact for school staff, teachers, students and their families.

Graduates of the MSEd program with this focus will need a few years of experience in the field of education leadership before assuming the position of school principal, since experience in this role is highly valued.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May 2020, the median annual wage for school principals was $98,490 (which includes elementary, middle and high school).

  1. Curriculum Coordinator: Curriculum Coordinator Certification (078)

As a curriculum coordinator (also known as instructional coordinator, curriculum developer or curriculum specialist) you will be tasked with improving the K-12 curriculum of one or several schools in order to meet the local standards. “Most of their time is spent navigating a series of complex state education standards, textbooks, and teaching strategies to provide accessibility of curriculum and required standards to students and teachers,” Resilient Educator notes. This is the perfect job for those who enjoy processing data and coming up with solutions and alternatives for teachers to apply to their lessons.

The median yearly pay of school-district level curriculum directors is $81,213, with top earners making more than $101,683 (; June 2021).

  1. Special Education Director: Administrator of Special Education Certification (030) and Assistant Administrator of Special Education (035)

There are two prominent figures in the field of special education: the director/administrator and the assistant administrator. Both are represented in USM’s MSEd program concentrations, and individuals in these senior roles can often earn higher salaries than special education teachers.

As pointed out by, special education directors, for example, “oversee the delivery of instruction and support to students with special needs. They often work at the district level, coordinating the efforts of principals and curriculum designers at multiple schools.” For this position, the average base salary is $73,419 a year, according to PayScale.

Graduates of an advanced education degree in educational leadership should also expect to build their careers step by step, first by assisting and gradually assuming more responsibility to move into leadership roles.

Learn more about the University of Southern Maine’s Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership program.

Sources: Special Education Careers

PayScale: Average Director of Special Education Salary Director of Curriculum and Instruction Salary in the United States

The Balance Career: What Does a School Principal Do?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

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