How an Advanced Degree in Education Can Open Doors

CareerBuilder and Northcentral University

Northcentral University

Education has evolved over the years—whether it’s due to changing classroom technology, online degree programs, charter schools or any number of other modern shifts. Although today’s education field might look a little different than it did 10 or 20 years ago, its importance hasn’t changed. In fact, the need for educators and education administrators has weathered the ups and downs of the economy and shows no sign of waning.

A BRIGHT FUTURE

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that during the years 2012-2022, employment of kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers will grow 12 percent.(1) And the number of people employed as high school teachers is expected to rise from 955,800 to 1,008,700 during this time.(2) This need for talented educators is due in part to the number of teachers approaching retirement age, as well as the rising population that is causing classroom sizes to grow. But the classroom isn’t the only place in need of talented educators. An institution’s leadership heavily influences success, and more than 13,000 new principal positions are expected to be created by 2022.(3) Likewise, the nation must continually address issues such as the role of technology in education, the needs of diverse student populations, and what methods of evaluation truly reflect knowledge. Educational researchers and theorists are vital for advancing the field in order to better serve students and to prepare future workers to become productive and competitive in an ever-changing global economy. From giving individual students the foundation and inspiration to achieve greatness to helping policymakers forge strategies to boost national output through the education of its citizens, educators make a difference. Are you ready to contribute?

EDUCATION

Earning a degree is a critical step to becoming an educator. A bachelor’s degree program sets the stage for entering the classroom by developing leadership, professional skills and core competency. It also gives incomparable preparation for the state licensure exam teachers are required to pass. Many teachers, however, go on to earn a master’s degree to increase their understanding of the educational process and their ability to create >thriving learning environments. The advanced training is respected by administrators and peers, oftentimes resulting in selection to important decision-making committees or leadership positions such as chairing a department. In addition, the financial rewards can be significant; the National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that the average starting salary for a master’s degree-level elementary education major is 30 percent higher than the average salary for the same major at the bachelor’s degree level.(4)

Educators interested in research, policymaking and top leadership positions enhance their knowledge and employability by pursuing a specialized degree. An Education Specialist (EdS) program focuses on developing expertise in a specific area, such as early childhood education, English as a second language or instructional leadership. A Doctor of Education (EdD) program enables leaders to learn how to apply educational theories and practices to actual settings. As Dr. Sheila Thomas (EdD in Higher Education Leadership), State University Dean of Extended Education at California State University says, “I loved the fact that my EdD program fit well with my current position and career goals. I was able to use the information and my research immediately in my job.” Completion of a comprehensive examination and dissertation marks these professionals as educational innovators and problem solvers. Similarly, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education program produces elite scholars ready to expand educational theory through thoughtful analysis and original research.

CAREER IN ACADEMIA

The majority of educators begin their careers as classroom teachers, and a large number choose to remain there for life. Compensation tends to increase with the grade level of the students; according to the BLS, median annual pay as of May 2012 was $53,090 for kindergarten/elementary school teachers.(5) Those who teach middle school earn a median annual income of $53,430.(6) And at the high school level, educators received a median annual pay of $55,050.(7) While these salary figures are national averages, individual income can vary by region, school size and experience level. 

The classroom not only provides an opportunity to make a direct impact on students, but also serves as an environment where professionals interested in other aspects of education gain vital insight and test out theories. Thus, many educators continue working as teachers while pursuing a higher degree. This mixture of experience and formal training can set them up for more influential positions. One such option is school principal, which can earn a median annual pay of $87,760.(8) Another viable role is an instructional coordinator, with a median annual pay of $60,050.(9)

Educators with an EdD or a PhD often become “teachers of teachers” through employment at colleges and universities. Naturally, students who graduate with an EdD or PhD in education often go into postsecondary teaching positions, which Economic Modeling Specialists Intl (EMSI) expects to grow 16.9 percent between 2013 and 2023.(10) The booming field of online education offers teachers and educational administrators career opportunities unheard of a decade ago. According to EMSI, postsecondary education administrators have a bright outlook, with a projected 15.5 percent growth between 2013 and 2023,(11) with a median hourly wage of $40.67. 

Opportunities Outside of the Classroom

The knowledge and critical thinking skills that graduates learn can help them succeed in a variety of settings, both inside and outside of the academic world. Businesses sometimes hire professionals with education degrees to increase the effectiveness of their corporate training and development efforts. They also may work as researchers, evaluators and consultants at private corporations and government agencies. Other employers may include publishers of textbooks and related educational material, standardized testing services, governmental agencies and private organizations concerned with educational reform. 

Just as educators encourage students to learn all they can in order to create plenty of future options, the same holds true for educators themselves. With knowledge gained from an advanced degree in education, a rewarding career path that helps both the student and educator is within reach. 

Article Presented by CareerBuilder & NCU


1 U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers and Middle School Teachers. [Online] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-e... and http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teac... [Accessed 19 Mar. 2014]. 2 U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: High School Teachers. [Online] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/ education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-6 [Accessed 20 Mar. 2014]. 3 U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals. [Online] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-prin... [Accessed 20 Mar. 2014].
>4 National Association of Colleges and Employers. Master’s Degree Means Higher Salary Payoff. [Online] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/ management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm#tab-6 [Accessed 20 Mar. 2014].
5 U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers. [Online] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-e... [Accessed 19 Mar. 2014].
6 U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Middle School Teachers. [Online] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm [Accessed 19 Mar. 2014].
7 U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: High School Teachers. [Online] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/ education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-6 [Accessed 20 Mar. 2014].
8 U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals. [Online] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-prin... [Accessed 20 Mar. 2014].
9 U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Instructional Coordinators. [Online] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm [Accessed 20 Mar. 2014].
10 Teachers, Postsecondary. Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. [Online.] [Accessed 1 Apr. 2014.]
11 Education Administrators, Postsecondary. Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. [Online.] [Accessed 1 Apr. 2014.]