Teaching & Education Degrees: What Can I Do with a Degree in Education?

You may never make the Fortune 500, and there’s no yacht or private jet in your future, but teaching is one of the professions that makes civilized life possible. Teachers lead children, young people, and working adults to the skills they need for their careers, to knowledge that betters their life, and to understanding that makes them citizens of the world. If they’re not compensated like hedge fund managers and corporate vice-presidents, they are rewarded by the memories of students they helped.

Obviously, to teach others, you need an education yourself. We’re far from the one-room schoolhouses and isolated ivory towers of yesteryear; teaching today is a highly specialized profession, with many fields of expertise. You may figure out your strengths as you go along, but you should have a clear idea before you go into a teaching degree what general direction you want to follow.

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For those with a passion or desire to teach, the journey starts with a degree in education. Those who educate need an education themselves to do it effectively. When it comes to education degrees, the three top questions include:

There are several paths towards becoming a teacher or educator. However, a lot of things will depend on precisely what kind of teacher someone wants to become. A school teacher and a corporate trainer are two different things, but both career paths can start with an education degree.

What Is a Degree in Education and What Can You Do with One?

What education do you need to become a teacher? This depends on the type of teacher. In most cases, K-12 teachers need at least a Bachelor’s in Education to teach. This can vary depending on the location (some require a master’s degree, while others may accept a high school diploma and certifications or an associate’s), but typically, schools expect their prospective teachers to have a bachelor’s degree. Other careers that involve teaching will also want a bachelor’s degree at least.

For specialized teaching or teaching at a higher level, a master’s degree or better may become necessary. A master’s degree is also considered necessary to teach at the college level or to move into administrative positions. For those that want to dig deep into teaching methodologies, research, and make changes to the fundamental way teaching works, then pursuing a full doctorate in education is the way to do it.

How to become a school teacher? The path towards becoming a school teacher is mostly straightforward. First, applicants must obtain their bachelor’s degree. In some places, it’s possible to start teaching the preschool level with an associate’s degree, but that isn’t a given and more schools are expecting a bachelor’s for these types of programs as well.

Teachers also require licensing or certification to teach. Teachers in every state need state licensing, and certifications are sometimes necessary to teach a certain subject or at a certain grade level. In addition, applicants will also spend time as student teachers. This will give them valuable classroom experience and can be thought of as a kind of internship.

What qualifications do you need to become a teacher? As stated, the major qualifications to become a teacher include the proper degree, the right amount of classroom time, and licensing. However, teachers are also expected to go through ongoing educational training. This ongoing training is sometimes a requirement for maintaining a teacher license or certification.

What Are the Best Schools or Programs for Earning an Education Degree?

As with all degrees, there’s not one type of place, program, or school that’s right for every person. When looking at the options, applicants need to pay attention to a school or program’s reputation and offerings. Maybe most importantly, applicants need to pay attention to the school or program’s accreditation status. Proper accreditation gives the best indication of whether a school or program will offer a valuable and viable education degree.

There are different types of accreditation, and the more applicants understand what to look for, the better chance they will have of narrowing their options down to the programs that are right for their needs. Generally, there are two broad categories of accreditation, which includes regional accreditation and specialized accreditation.

Regional, or institutional accreditation means a college or university adheres to the educational standards set by one of the country’s seven accreditation groups. Regional accreditation almost always applies to the college or university, rather than to specific programs in the school. This means the school itself may have exemplary educational standards, but it doesn’t always mean the education program or course in the school is great. To put that in perspective, some very excellent colleges can still have poor individual programs or tracts where the school doesn’t excel. A college that produces excellent engineers isn’t always the one that will produce excellent teachers. Nevertheless, regional accreditation is a good start when looking for a school.

Specialized or programmatic accreditation typically applies to individual programs, paths of study, and specific departments within a school. The right accreditation from a recognized teaching program accreditation group is essential. In some cases, a teaching or education degree from a non-accredited program can be met with some skepticism from the education community. If nothing else, applicants should make sure the program that interests them has accreditation from a well-known accrediting group.

In education, the main accreditation types to look for are the CAEP, NCATE, and TEAC:

  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC)

The CAEP is the main group, as it’s a merger of the TEAC and NCATE. However, many education programs are still under TEAC or NCATE accreditation until their renewal comes due; then, they will have to be accredited under CAEP standards. So, applicants who see any of these accreditation types listed can rest assured they’re all under the same umbrella. 

The CAEP is recognized by the United States Department of Education. This group sets educational standards and dictate the level of excellence and education degree program needs to rise to and maintain to keep their accredited status. The group also consists of many of the leaders in education, so the standards they set comes from the thinktank of minds who know the industry and help to form it. A degree with CAEP accreditation will have the largest recognition and the widest possible reach.

What are the Different Types of Education Degrees Available?

As with most degrees, there’s an education degree for every academic level. Applicants can pursue an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate. In most cases, an associate’s degree isn’t quite good enough for an education career, so most applicants should default to pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education first. A prospective teacher who already has a bachelor’s in another field may find the process shortened, since they will only need the education core courses.

For those that want to advance in their careers, a master’s degree is the next logical and necessary choice. Most teaching positions exist between the bachelor’s and master’s degree level. Those who pursue a doctorate are those with aspirations that go beyond an education career.

Also, applicants will work in this profession while they pursue a higher degree, so starting with a bachelor’s is still the most obvious choice. As degree levels rise, so does teacher salaries. A teacher salary with master’s degree will usually sit above the salary paid to a teacher with a bachelor’s, even for the same position. This isn’t always a given, as a teacher salary with master’s degree will also depend on several other factors.

Degree Program Types

AA/AS: Education associate’s degrees are usually in Early Childhood Education or Elementary Education. Early Childhood Education prepares graduates to work in day care or preschool, with appropriate licensing. Elementary Education qualifies graduates for work as teacher’s assistants in public or private elementary schools.

(Check out: What is the Benefit of Going to a Community College?)

BA/BS: To teach at the elementary or secondary level, a bachelor’s degree is a necessity, in public or private elementary, middle, or high school. It is also beneficial for people who want to open their own day care, and can be an advantage at the preschool level.

MA/MS: A master’s degree usually provides graduates with a higher salary at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels, as well as for higher administrative roles in education. It is a distinct advantage for teachers who want to work in more elite charter or private schools. The master’s degree is also an entry-level requirement for teaching at the college level, qualifying a graduate to teach as an adjunct (part-time) or lecturer (part- or full-time), though not as a professor.

PhD: The PhD is the standard credential for teaching at the college level. The assistant professor rank (the first level of tenure-track, full-time faculty) at most colleges and universities requires a PhD for every discipline except the arts (where the MFA is the terminal degree).

Outside of degree levels, there are also education degree types that involve a chosen specialty. And, within those chosen specialties, the degree level can come into play as well. It’s possible to choose a specialization when pursuing a bachelor’s degree, but specialization becomes even more important at the master’s degree level. An applicant may already know what kind of teaching they want to do. In such cases, they can narrow down their program choices because they know there’s a specific type of education they want. However, it can help to know what kind of specializations are out there.

What Are Some Specializations in Education?

Education specializations vary widely. Many of the specializations have to do with the age of those the applicant would like to teach. Another category has to do with what subject someone wants to teach. Some broader examples of education specializations include:

More of these broad categories exist. What makes these broad categories is the fact that there are sublevels to each of them. For example, elementary education typically includes K-12, but an applicant may want to focus specifically on high school children.

To take it further, the applicant may want to work with high school students with developmental issues who need special education. One can go even further and say an applicant wants to work with special needs high school students in inner-city environments.

A good way to think of specialization in education is to consider that everything is something teachable. Teaching through corporate seminars and teaching grade school children require a different set of skills, but both start with an education degree.

Are Online Degrees Any Good? Can You Get a Teachers Degree Online?

Can you get a teacher’s degree online? Yes. Numerous institutions and programs exist geared towards achieving an education degree partially or fully online. Getting an education degree online has its own benefits and takes just as much consideration as pursuing an education degree in any other way.

Applicants will likely see a lot of advertisements during their search for a good program, and those advertisements will say something like, “get your teaching degree online.” Just understand that while it’s possible and even beneficial for some to get your teaching degree online, there is still a lot of considerations that must go into the process.

It’s easy for some people to assume an online education degree isn’t as good as one from a traditional school, but they would be wrong. In fact, many of the traditional schools these days offer their own online programs.

Online options aren’t limited. Applicants can find schools and programs offering online education degrees at every level and for every class of specialization. For example, special education is a popular career path. Applicants can easily look for and find online special education degree options or offers of an online degree in special education.

Since special education teacher salary with master’s only increases, applicants may find it beneficial to pursue a master’s online special education degree, as those are available online as well. A master’s online degree in special education is still a master’s degree in special education whether it comes from an online program or not. Special education teacher salary with master’s will not lessen because the degree came from an online university or online program.

When looking for a bachelor’s degree in education program online, applicants still must pay attention to the bachelor degree in education requirements that come along with that program. In addition, accreditation is just as important. So, always choose accredited online teaching degree programs These accredited online teaching degree programs will offer high-quality educations and the same quality associated with any other accredited university or college.

Applicants can also consider splitting their degrees by using online courses. For instance, an applicant can pursue an online associate’s degree in education. Applicants can also use this as an opportunity to start down a path of specialization. For example, they can study for an online associate’s degree in education but also choose to look into an early childhood associate’s degree online or the associate’s degree in early childhood education requirements.

When it’s time to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education, they can then move on to a different type of program in a traditional school, or remain and check the bachelor’s degree in education requirements for an online option. An undergraduate degree in special education can come from any of several online sources.

Online early childhood degrees also exist at the master’s degree level. An early childhood education online program for every degree level is out there. If someone wants to continue to find a master’s in early childhood education online, they will find several options to do so. As with anything else, and online master’s degree in early childhood education only needs proper vetting to learn its reputation, curriculum, and accreditation status.

Special education, as stated, is another popular choice for those seeking an education degree. Applicants should have no issues finding an online bachelor’s in special education program or an online special education master’s degree program.

Special education degree programs and special education degree requirements will have only slight variations between programs and colleges that offer special education degrees. For those who want to combine specialties, there are also programs that offer things like an online master’s degree in early childhood special education.

Applicants who want special education degree programs have many options if they want to pursue a bachelor’s or online special education master’s degree. Some special education online courses free of tuition costs also exist. However, these programs don’t always come with credits.

Applicants who see a listing for special education online courses free should dig deep to find out exactly what benefits such course can offer them. A free online teaching degree may seem like a miracle, but a free online teaching degree needs to also adhere to all the considerations established for choosing a degree program.

Elementary education degree requirements are also worth looking into for those who search for “elementary education degree near me.” Elementary education in many states must meet bachelor degree in education requirements. An online elementary teaching degree can meet those requirements and any other elementary education degree requirements.

An online bachelor’s in elementary education can prepare applicants for teaching in the K-12 realm specifically. Obtaining a bachelor’s in elementary education online can represent the first step towards a rewarding career in education. This also all applies to an online elementary education master’s degree.

Whether seeking the best online college for teaching degree programs or the cheapest online teaching degree, applicants must make sure that college contains accredited online teaching degree programs. The accreditation status is what separates the programs worth considering from those that aren’t. Accredited online teaching degree programs will have the standards set by a professional accrediting group which can help give applicants a tremendous amount of peace of mind.

Do Teachers Need Licenses or Certifications to Teach?

Teaching requires licensing and certifications. There’s no way around this fact. Even if an applicant doesn’t plan to teach at a school, or only plans to teach in the private sector, there’s still an expectation that they will have some sort of certification beyond their degree. For any who plan to teach children at schools, their respective state will require them to have a license and keep it in good standing.

The requirements for a state teaching license or certification will vary by state, so applicants will have to investigate the requirements where they plan to do their teaching. Generally, states will require a prospective teacher to meet some bare minimum requirements.

Those baseline requirements will typically include at least a bachelor’s degree in education or a general bachelor’s degree with a minimum amount of coursework dedicated to teaching or a specific subject. For example, some states are okay with a bachelor’s degree in anything if there’s a certain amount of credits that come from a specific subject, such as math. That degree can allow someone to teach math at the grade school level.

Applicants may have to take tests and fingerprinting in some states. Most states require teachers to pass the Praxis exam as well. As each state has different requirements, it’s important that applicants don’t assume they can earn a license in one place and use it in another without first checking the other state’s requirements.

Applicants who want to specialize may also need certification to do so. For example, even if qualified to teach in general, the applicant may not have the qualification to teach special education. In many places, special education requires its own certification. Applicants can find online special education certification and online special education teacher certification programs.

However, applicants should do their research before committing to an online special education certification course. Some places have requirements that pertain specifically to special education, so choosing online special education teacher certification programs that adhere to the specific institution’s requirements is important.

What Are the Different Types of Careers in Education?

Education is a broad category encompassing every industry. In this sense, the career path possibilities in education are nearly endless. Nevertheless, when people think of careers in education, they’re usually specifically thinking about careers in the education field itself.

Education offers numerous career paths, especially through specialization. A popular path these days is in early childhood education. As far as careers go, an opportunity to teach children will always exist, so childhood education has a tremendous amount of job security inherent. Many teachers actually come to teaching as a second career, bringing their experience to the classroom.

In the case of childhood education, the degree level can also play a role in how much someone can make and how far they can advance in their careers. For example, Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education jobs and Master’s in early childhood education jobs can vary significantly.

Someone with a bachelor’s and an early childhood education specialty may find they’re qualified for certain teaching positions when it comes to bachelor’s in early childhood education jobs. By contrast, someone with a master’s can teach, and can teach a specialty within the field of early childhood education.

The master’s degree will also make an applicant more likely to take on leadership or administrative roles. Those types of roles are the ones applicants will likely see when looking for master’s in early childhood education jobs.

Elementary teaching and special education careers are also very popular, traditional, and future-proof. Salary for careers with master in special education will typically have a higher range than those same categories of jobs with a bachelor’s. This also applies to elementary teaching posts. An elementary teacher salary with a master’s degree will usually have a higher range, even for the same job.

What Kind of Salary Can You Expect with an Education Degree?

Teacher salaries can vary widely and wildly. Salary will depend on education level, geographic location, public or private sector, specializations, experience, and other variables. Because of these variables, it’s important for prospective teachers to do a little research regarding salary on their own.

While there are ranges and averages, there are also numerous exceptions to them. According to PayScale, the average salary for someone with a Master’s of Education is $56k, but the range goes from $35k to $122k. Yet, that same site lists $56k as the average for the education industry in general. All sites show that the salary for education is on the rise across the nation, which should raise these averages over time.

Applicants should also note how much a specialty matters. A special education teacher salary or a special needs teacher salary will always come in a little higher than education salaries at the same level. This effect is especially true for a master’s in special education salary. Teachers salary with master’s degree level education helps to put someone further up in the salary range.

However, as with other variables, a special education teacher salary or special needs teacher salary will also depend on if the applicant plans to teach in an area where there’s a need for these types of teachers. master’s in special education salary will always exist in relation to the average education salary of a particular area.

As stated, specialization matters, and early childhood education is currently popular. However, an associate’s degree in early childhood education salary cannot compete with a bachelor’s in early childhood education salary. Equally, a bachelor’s in early childhood education salary cannot compete with a master’s in early childhood education salary. Early childhood education hourly salary and early childhood education salary with master’s level requirements will pay more than general education careers.

Education is a field where degree level holds an incredible amount of significance. Also, an associate’s degree in early childhood education salary isn’t always so great, as most educational institutions will require a bachelor’s.

A teacher salary with master’s degree level education will typically work best for just about any education career. An elementary teacher salary with a master’s degree can look a lot better than otherwise. Applicants must keep all these variables in mind when seeking salary information.

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