A head teacher is urging others to take up what he called the "noble" role of leader of a school.
Heads 'inspire and shape' the future generations
Addressing the Independent Schools Association conference in Torquay, Chairman Colin Ashby appealed for more potential heads to step forward.
He said that among professionals, the role carried a "label of integrity of the highest order".
But he noted that 1,500 schools were without permanent heads and applications were down by 16%.
He said that in 2005, 1,786 teachers left state schools to teach in independent ones.
He said it was a "vote of confidence" in the independent sector but "we must look beyond the confines of our own sector".
Mr Ashby, who is head teacher at Trinity School Teignmouth, said a recent ISA survey found the main factors making head teachers' work less attractive was paperwork and "excessive bureaucracy".
But he added: "Nevertheless, the majority of head teachers were very positive about the rewards in leading schools and would encourage colleagues aspiring to headship to consider seriously taking on such a position."
He continued: "The burdens are more than matched by the rewards. Inspiring and helping to shape the coming generation is a noble task."
Shadow education secretary David Willetts applauded Mr Ashby's intentions.
But he added: "In reality, we cannot rely solely on the altruism of independent school teachers and heads to fill the maintained head teacher shortage.
"It is up to the state system to provide proper incentives to teach in its schools - it must give its head teachers some of the freedom, respect and trust that independent head teachers enjoy."
A Department for Education spokesman said it was providing incentives to attract new head teachers to the profession.
"We are supporting heads with record pay, reducing the bureaucratic burden on schools and key reforms to help them manage workloads better.
"Since 1997 the maximum head teachers can be paid has risen by more than 35% in real terms from £56,676 to £93,297, with over £102,000 available in inner London from this September.
"And recent workforce statistics show there are more teachers in our schools than at anytime since 1980, up 36,200 since 1997, thanks in part to our commitments on pay and conditions."