By the time an individual is hired to be the principal of a high school, he or she has already spent many years in the education system of a particular school district or in a particular state. As such, the average high school principal has a great deal of experience in the classroom, teaching students. As he or she rises up the hierarchy of high or middle school academia, the ability to administer a large institution and to demonstrate leadership abilities is required. The principal is a position of authority not only over hundreds or thousands of students, but also of teachers and support staff. He or she is expected to possess very good communication skills at both levels -- adult teachers and teenagers -- and to be experienced at resolving crises that can arise within a classroom, in the gym, or in a school yard. High school principals also must be capable of interacting on a daily basis with parents, school boards, and community organizations.
In addition to leadership and administrative skills and the ability to communicate to a broad range of individuals, a principal must be certified by the state or district in which he or she is working, the specific requirements dependent upon each individual state's laws.
In terms of education, high school principals are expected to have at least one graduate degree, preferably a doctorate in secondary education, but at a minimum a master's degree. He or she should be capable of developing a curriculum and at ensuring that all educational and athletic activities are consistent with all appropriate laws.