Earn Your Master's Degree in Education
Certified teachers and other education professionals can broaden and refine their skills and possibly boost their earning potential by earning a master's degree in education. College graduates who are not professional educators may be able to enter the field by obtaining a Master of Education (M.Ed.), but they usually need to be certified or licensed to teach.
Many M.Ed. programs are flexible, allowing working professionals to complete their coursework over a slightly longer time frame than the typical one or two years needed to get this degree. If you're interested in an M.Ed. program, you can look for one that matches your career goals. For example, if you want to become a more skilled teacher, you might consider an M.Ed. in elementary or secondary teaching. These programs may also offer a way for you to transition into teaching from a different field, by preparing you to earn a state-issued teaching certificate. Graduation requirements for a master's in education program will depend on the area of concentration, but may include an internship, student teaching or other in-classroom work, or a research project.
Master's Degree in Education: Career Paths
Graduates of master's in education programs can go on to become teachers and administrators at various educational levels, but the degree offers other potential career paths. These include:
Instructional Coordinator - These education professionals help develop and implement the curriculum for a school system or other organization, such as a business offering a professional development program. They may select materials and train teachers. Employment of instructional coordinators could increase about 20 percent by 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
School Counselor - These education professionals help students meet goals and overcome challenges. Their specific areas of focus vary. For example, an elementary school counselor may work with students on basic decision-making skills, while a high school counselor will focus on developing career goals and college plans. In addition to an M.Ed. in School Counseling, a state certification is typically needed to become a school counselor. Employment of school counselors is expected to increase about 19 percent by 2020, according to the BLS (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).
If you are interested in becoming a teacher, certification or licensure is usually required. Public schools require state-issued certification.
Potential Career Earnings after Master's Degree in Teaching
For primary and secondary school teachers in public schools, earning a master's degree may result in greater career earnings, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Average teacher pay will vary from state to state, but the BLS provides May 2012 median annual income information for teachers at various grade levels nationwide: $50,120 for kindergarten teachers, $53,400 for elementary school, $53,430 for middle school and $55,050 for high school. The national median May 2012 annual salary for school counselors was $53,610, according to the BLS (bls.gov/oes, 2013).
However, your earnings could increase substantially if you get a master's in education, even if you do not pursue teaching. The median weekly earnings for bachelor's degree holders were $1,066 in 2012, while that number rose to $1,300 for master's degree holders, according to the BLS (bls.gov, 2013).
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Education Pays, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211012.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Elementary School Teachers, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252021.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, High School Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Instructional Coordinators, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm#tab-6
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Education-Training-and-Library/Kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kindergarten Teachers, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252012.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Middle School Teachers, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252022.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Middle School Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, School and Career Counselors, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Community-and-Social-Service/School-and-career-counselors.htm#tab-6
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Secondary School Teachers, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252031.htm
Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Master of Education, http://www.gse.harvard.edu/academics/masters/
Loyola University Chicago, School of Education, http://www.luc.edu/education/academics_degrees_masters.shtml
National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/
National Louis University, Master's in Education Programs, http://https://www.nl.edu/t4/academics/mastersprograms/education/
Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy, Master of Science in Education, http://www.sesp.northwestern.edu/msed/