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Become a School Superintendent in California– A Complete Guide

I have been receiving quite a few emails about the superintendent role in the State of California, so I’ve decided to put together a guide about it.

The superintendent role is a position of high authority in all states – California is no different. As a superintendent of a school district in California , you’ll be responsible for decision making for a wide range of schools, will be the first point of contact for staff at the various schools and will be in charge of hiring and firing employees in the various schools. Superintendents are also responsible for handling the media especially in times of crisis / controversy in the district. As a superintendent you are ultimately responsible for the efficient overall operations of a specific school district.green-careers-blues

All in all, the superintendent role is one that is challenging, but comes with significant financial reward. The median salary for a superintendent in the state of California  is $108,000 / year which is over double the state average.

Most superintendents have a masters or doctorate degree in the subject that they used to teach or in Education and possess management, leadership, problem solving and interpersonal skills. They also have to be manage budget distribution and so experience in the areas of accounting, finance and supervision are all very welcomed.

Salary Range, Facts and Figures

The most recent count shows that there are 1154 superintendents in the State of California  ranging in salary from a median of $108,000 right the way up to $346,000. Currently there is a bit of a funding war going on – many superintendents have been fighting a battle against state lawmakers to increase funding for the educaton system in California . This is one example of the duty of a superintendent.

How to Become a Superintendent

Becoming a superintendent is like becoming a CEO of a company. It is a position that is highly contested because of the attractive financial reward and prestige that comes with the position – so there isn’t a one size fits all route to become a school superintendent.

With that said, there are a number of things that you can and should be doing if you want to position yourself in the best possible way to getting a job of a superintendent in California  (or any other state for that matter):

  • You will need to have a masters degree in school administration, education or another related field
  • Most superintendents also have a doctorate degree
  • Superintendents generally progress through the educational system from being a teacher, principal or school administrator that allows them to gain the experience that is required for the role
  • Any business or management experience and understanding of educational policy is a massive factor too

taking-examIn the state of California  there is also a California  superintendent qualification exam. On the 16th April, 2011 there will be a new version of the California superintendent exam introduced – the code for this exam is 195.

The old version of the exam (064) required candidates to take two 5 hour long examinations on the same day (in the morning and in the afternoon). Included in the exam is an insert that contains details about a hypothetical school district – the morning exam will contain a series of questions about this hypothetical school district and you’ll be asked to respond in a variety of ways about how you would handle the situation as superintendent.

The afternoon session of the old exam contains individual questions and decision sets (a group of questions relating to one specific scenario). The test contains 90 questions of which only 80 are scored and the weighted pass mark is 240. The weighting depends on the overall performance of each participant for that particular exam.

The new version of the exam (194) is only 5 hours long contains similar questions to the (064), the only difference being that the exam is not as lengthy.


Amy P'Pool is currently a student at California State University at Long Beach. Studying journalism, aspiring to be a professional writer someday. She enjoys hiking, being outdoors, jogging thru the parks and along the beaches of California, some consider her to be true....

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