“Surprisingly, in spite of the pressures of the job, the majority of superintendents love what they do and would do it all over again,” Domenech said. “Such high job satisfaction can be a motivator that may keep our education leaders at the task of running our nation’s schools.”

Key findings in the AASA report include:

  • The work portfolio of America’s superintendents is increasingly diverse, encompassing not only student achievement, but the diversification of student and staff populations, the explosion of technology, expanded expectations from the government, the school board and the community, and the globalization of society.
  • The percentage of female superintendents has increased substantially since 1992. In this study, nearly one in four respondents (24.1 percent) was a woman. (In 2000, the percentage was 13.2.)
  • Only about half (51 percent) of respondents said they planned to still be a school superintendent in 2015—a finding suggesting the probability of substantial turnover in the next few years.
  • Non-minority group respondents more often entered the superintendency before the age of 46 than did their peers in the minority group. Minority group respondents were more than twice as likely as their peers in the non-minority group to report that they had encountered discrimination in their pursuit of the superintendency.
  • The level of job satisfaction expressed by superintendents remains high. A high percentage would again seek to occupy the same position if given the chance to relive their careers.

When it comes to superintendents’ professional experiences, most surveyed followed a traditional career path through teacher and building-level principal positions. In a departure from previous studies, many superintendents began their careers in administration as assistant principals.

Sixty-nine percent of superintendents reported being very satisfied with their career choice, and 27 percent said they are moderately satisfied. Building off job satisfaction, nearly two-thirds (63.2 percent) said they would definitely opt to be a superintendent again, and 25.1 percent said they would probably do so.

Slightly fewer than half of respondents (45.3 percent) reported having earned a doctoral degree. Eighty-three percent said they found professional development opportunities useful or very useful, and the three most relevant continuing education topics were law and legal issues, finance, and personnel management.

Respondents were asked to rank different academic courses in terms of their importance, designating for each course whether the course was extremely important, moderately important, unimportant, or not applicable because it the respondent did not enroll in the course. Nearly three-quarters (72.7 percent) said school law was extremely important, 63.6 percent said school finance was extremely important, and 50 percent said school public relations were extremely important.