Teachers and other educators can make a profound impact on the lives of others, whether they’re working with a classroom of 5-year-olds, providing skills training to team members at a Fortune 500 company, or designing the curricula for a performing arts camp.
The field of education reaches far beyond the classroom, and individuals interested in working in education have numerous degrees and career paths to choose from. Education-related professions span everything from corporate trainers to camp directors to high school science teachers.
Additionally, different types of education degrees, such as a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), Master of Education (MEd), or a Doctorate of Education (EdD) can prepare graduates with in-demand expertise and skills. These include specialized knowledge pertaining to their major and soft skills such as communication skills, critical thinking skills, and time management skills that are transferable to a wide variety of careers in the public, private, nonprofit, and government sectors.
What Is the Field of Education?
Education isn’t limited to teaching positions. What the education field is encompasses a broad range of other career paths as well, in academic research, student development, and curriculum and policy design, among other areas. Students and professionals in this field are often drawn to positions that allow them to support the development and growth of others. Whether they want to work in an elementary school classroom or lead team-building retreats for a large company, job opportunities for education professionals are numerous.
Consequently, one of the first steps an individual should take toward a successful career in education is to determine which type of career path they’re most interested in pursuing. This will help ensure that they choose a degree program that matches their professional goals.
Why Get a Degree in Education? Education Degree Benefits
Students interested in pursuing a career in education have a variety of undergraduate degree programs to choose from, as there are multiple degrees applicable to the education sector. Whereas individuals interested in teaching history can start their educational journey by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in US or world history, those interested in working as a high school science teacher may choose to major in biology, chemistry, or physics.
Another education degree benefit is that individuals interested in pursuing leadership positions in the field can choose from numerous graduate programs, depending on their interests. Aspiring school psychologists may pursue a master’s in counseling, while those interested in teaching English literature at the college level may find that a master’s degree in English aligns better with their career goals.
Teachers are in demand. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of all educators, including preschool teachers, elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, high school teachers, and postsecondary teachers, is projected to grow by 10 percent between 2020 and 2030, which is about as fast as the job growth the BLS projects for all occupations during that period.
Approximately 920,500 new jobs are expected to be added during that reporting period. The BLS projects that student enrollment will increase in communities throughout the US and additional teachers will be needed to meet that demand.
Payscale reports that, as of June 2022, the median salary for teachers was approximately $50,200 annually, with earners in the top 10th percentile having a median salary of around $77,000 per year. Actual salaries vary depending on the teacher’s experience level, the geographical region of their position, whether they hold an advanced degree, and the school district they work for.
Most teachers work on-site at a school during the hours that students are present and have an eight- to 10-week break during the summer. They may also have short winter and spring breaks. Additionally, some teachers work evening and weekend hours to grade papers and prepare lesson plans.
Nonteaching Roles in Education
There are many types of education degrees, and teaching isn’t the only thing that graduates can do. One of the reasons why students get degrees in education is that there are many applicable career paths, including the following.
Admissions counselors often work with colleges, universities, and private schools to recruit potential students. In addition to evaluating applications to ensure that applicants meet the institution’s enrollment requirements—such as GPA, residency, and educational background requirements—they also conduct applicant interviews, coordinate recruiting events, and organize classroom visits or campus tours.
Payscale reports that, as of June 2022, the median salary for admissions counselors was around $40,000 per year.
Tutors are private teaching instructors who work with students doing the following:
- Help students complete assignments and prepare for tests and exams
- Help students gain a broader understanding of new topics that have been introduced in the classroom
- Administer practice tests
- Provide progress reports to students and their parents
- Distribute additional teaching materials as needed
Although some tutors work with students one on one, others work with small groups.
High School Principal
High school principals oversee the day-to-day operations and activities of the schools they work for. Their specific tasks include the following:
- Ensure that academic policies, such as advanced placement (AP) class enrollment prerequisites and add/drop procedures for classes, are being met
- Develop academic benchmarks and benchmark tracking procedures
- Develop and oversee budgets
- Hire and train teachers and other staff
- Develop and implement policies pertaining to on-campus guest visits to ensure that staff, educators, and students remain safe
Payscale reports that, as of May 2022, the median salary for high school principals was approximately $91,800 per year.
Corporate trainers aim to boost an organization’s productivity by providing skills training to employees. Training modules can cover a wide variety of topics, such as team communication, presentation strategies, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, project management, leadership training, time management, and negotiation strategies. Some corporate trainers work full time for one organization, while others work with different companies for a set period of time as a consultant.
Payscale reports that, as of June 2022, the median base salary for corporate trainers was around $57,800 annually.
Camp directors oversee and manage the day-to-day operations and activities of day camps, sleep-away camps, and recreational camps. Typical job duties include the following:
- Hiring, training, and supervising staff
- Overseeing and managing budgets
- Designing curricula, including activities such as arts and crafts projects, campfire singalongs, and sports and recreation
- Ensuring that campers and staff adhere to safety regulations
- Leading presentations about the camp to current and potential campers and their families
Payscale reports that, as of April 2022, the median salary for camp directors was approximately $42,300 per year.
Education consultants work at schools and higher education institutions in an advisory capacity. Their tasks include the following:
- Evaluate curricula and learning outcomes
- Analyze teacher and student performance results
- Advise on strategies designed to improve teaching methodologies
- Enhance the effectiveness of curricula
Although some professionals in this role work with educational consulting firms, some work as self-employed freelancers. Payscale reports that, as of May 2022, the median salary for education consultants was around $63,200 per year.
Types of Education Degrees
Students interested in pursuing education careers have many types of education degrees to choose from. For example, at the undergraduate level, students can choose to major in English, psychology, sociology, education, history, a foreign language, science, math, or engineering. Most bachelor’s degrees require students to complete approximately 120 credit hours of coursework prior to graduation, and most full-time students find they can complete their undergraduate studies in approximately four years.
Educators interested in pursuing leadership roles who are looking into master’s and doctoral degree programs can choose from several degree options as well, depending on their interests. Similar to the completion timeline for a baccalaureate degree, the time it takes to complete a master’s or doctoral degree can vary based on the credit hour requirement of the program they’re enrolled in and whether they’re enrolled as a part-time or full-time student.
Examples of postgraduate education degrees and their admissions requirements include the following:
Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
A Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree program is an advanced degree program that’s designed to prepare future educators for both licensure and specialized career paths in the teaching profession. Credit hour requirements for MAT programs vary widely from school to school. Some programs require students to complete a minimum of 28 credit hours to be eligible to graduate, while other programs require as many as 42 credit hours.
Additionally, as MAT programs allow students to choose from a variety of specializations, some specializations require more credit hours than others. Specializations for MAT programs include the following:
- Early Childhood Education: This concentration prepares educators with advanced expertise in teaching methodologies for prekindergarten through third-grade classrooms.
- Elementary Education: This general education program specialization is designed for individuals interested in working with elementary school-aged children in grades one to six.
- Language Arts: This concentration teaches best practices for teaching the English language, including reading, writing, and literature studies.
- Mathematics: Teachers interested in gaining advanced knowledge and skills for teaching mathematics to students in grades five to 12 may find that a concentration in mathematics aligns best with their career goals.
- Middle School Education: This general education track is designed for teachers interested in working with students in grades four to eight.
- Science: A concentration in science prepares graduates to teach courses such as biology, earth and space science, chemistry, and physics.
- Secondary Education: Individuals who opt for this specialization will receive generalized knowledge in teaching subjects such as biological science, English, social sciences, and mathematics to students in grades nine to 12.
- Special Education: This specialization is designed for students interested in working with special needs students, such as those who have learning or physical disabilities.
Admissions Requirements for an MAT
The admissions requirements for Master of Arts in Teaching programs depend on the school. For example, some programs require applicants to submit GRE scores as part of their application packet, while others do not. Admissions requirements may include the following:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, with undergraduate coursework in relevant topics for applicants in certain specializations
- A minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) or quality point average (QPA)
- Official college transcripts from all past colleges an applicant has attended
- One or more letters of recommendation
- A resume
- A completed graduate school application
- An application fee
Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership (MEd)
A Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership (MEd) program is another type of graduate education degree program that prepares students to pursue leadership roles, such as school principal or school administrator, in schools and school districts, including charter schools, public schools, private schools, and parochial schools.
Learning objectives within this program cover topics such as monitoring student performance; developing short- and long-term plans for student achievement; creating diversity in learning programs for students from various ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds and with different abilities. They also address designing strategies for allocating resources, such as budget and staff resources, to support student learning.
The curriculum of a Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership program often includes courses such as Educational Leadership and Organizational Change, Education and Public Policy, Quantitative Research in Education, Education Law and Policy, and Education Program and Policy Implementation.
Similar to the credit hour requirement for a MAT degree, the credit hour requirement for a Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership also varies from school to school. Some institutions require as few as 30 credit hours, while others require 40 credit hours or more.
Admissions Requirements for an MEd
The admissions requirements for a Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership are similar to admissions requirements for other types of graduate degree programs. Requirements often include the following:
- A bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as English, science, mathematics, or history, from an accredited institution
- A minimum undergraduate GPA or QPA
- One or more letters of recommendation
- A completed graduate school application
- An application fee
- Official college transcripts from all past colleges and universities
- GRE scores may or may not be required depending on the institution
Doctor of Education in Education Policy and Leadership (EdD)
A Doctor of Education in Education Policy and Leadership (EdD) program is designed for students who have completed a master’s degree in a related field and are interested in gaining an advanced understanding of the issues that impact the nation’s public and private education systems at the local, state, and national level.
Throughout this type of education degree, students learn about how various laws and regulations, such as Title IX and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), impact educational institutions; how to examine and evaluate issues in education from various perspectives; and how to make systemic changes designed to improve students’ educational journeys.
Coursework within EdD in Education Policy and Leadership programs often covers topics such as:
- Research methodologies
- Social Justice
- Systemic Change
- Diversity in Education
Most colleges and universities require students to complete 60 credit hours of coursework before they’ll be eligible to earn an EdD.
Admissions Requirements for an EdD
Similar to other types of advanced degree programs, the admissions requirements for a Doctor of Education in Education Policy and Leadership can vary depending on the institution. Typical requirements include the following:
- A master’s degree in an education-related field from an accredited college or university
- A minimum GPA or QPA, often 3.0 or above
- A minimum number of years of full-time work experience
- Leadership experience in an educational setting
- Letters of recommendation
- Official transcripts from every postsecondary institution previously attended
- A resume or CV
- A completed application
- An application fee
Pursue Your Dream and Shape Lives as an Educator
Students interested in pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in education must start by narrowing down the career path they’re most interested in pursuing. From there, they can evaluate degree programs to determine which academic institution and which major is best for them. An important step when evaluating potential colleges and universities is to ensure that both the school and the program are accredited.
American University offers an Online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), Online Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership (MEd), and Online EdD in Education Policy and Leadership for students looking to take the next step in their careers. Each program is rooted in inclusive, anti-racist pedagogy and contemporary methods to create lasting improvement in education. Students can benefit from intentional curricula to prepare them for all types of educational careers.
Are you ready to take the next step forward in your educational journey? Discover how earning a degree in education can prepare you for the professional future you want.