Journal Article

Primary School Principals’ Job Satisfaction and Occupational Stress

January 8, 2016

International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 30, Issue 1, 2016, pp. 115-128


The paper explores the factors associated with occupational stress and job satisfaction among Irish primary school principals. Principals’ job has become increasingly demanding and complex in recent decades. However, there is little current research into their levels of stress and job satisfaction, particularly based on nationally representative data. In order to understand how principals perceive their job and how best to support them, new insights into factors contributing to job satisfaction and stress of school principals are warranted.


The paper draws on the analysis of Growing up in Ireland data, a national representative study of 9-year-old children in Ireland. In order to explore the simultaneous impact of individual and school factors on stress and job satisfaction of principals in Irish primary schools, multivariate analysis was used. Analyses in this article are based on responses from principals in 898 schools.


The results of the study indicate that a significant number of primary school principals in Ireland are not very satisfied and feel stressed about their job. Regression analysis revealed that job satisfaction and occupational stress were related to a complex set of personal characteristics, working conditions, school context and teacher climate.

Research limitations/implications

The data are limited to the principals of 9 year old children. However, this is in itself an advantage since it allows for greater insights into variation across principals in job satisfaction and stress, holding the effect of class age-group constant.


This is the first study of its kind in the Irish context that explores simultaneous effect of a number of factors on school principals' stress and job satisfaction.