What Can You Do with a Master’s in Education? – Your Guide to Master’s in Education Jobs
By Catherine Dorian – former English Teacher, Brattleboro Union High School and Fort Benton Middle/High School
September 2, 2021
If you’re coming from a background in teaching, you may be looking toward graduate programs as a next step. Of you may be working in an entirely different field and thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I taught people how to do this?”
In any case, if you’re wondering what a master’s in education can do for you, it means you’re looking to move about within your career, and to keep learning and teaching others while doing so.
A master’s degree in anything—education included—can allow you to use your skills in more creative ways in a variety of settings.
So, if you’ve gotten to the place where you’re asking yourself, “What can I do with a master’s in education?”, you’ve definitely come to the right place. You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers.
A master’s degree in education will not only advance the career of any teacher ambitious enough to earn one while satisfying professional development in the process, it can also increase marketability and open entirely new doors for people in different fields looking to make the transition to teaching.
One of the Best Things You Can Do with a Master’s in Education is Increase Your Salary While Refining Your Skills
In most states, you don’t need a master’s to teach, and many teachers have fulfilling, successful careers without ever earning one. But a master’s usually bumps you up on the pay scale while teaching you new methods and practices that help you do your job better and reach your students. So, you may be wondering, if you’re choosing to stay in teaching, is a master’s in education worth it? If you look at earning potential alone, the answer is absolutely, yes.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, teachers with a master’s degree earn an average of at least $6,000 more per year than their counterparts— and that’s notfactoring in years of experience in the classroom. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing high school teachers earning a median salary of $62,870, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that for experienced teachers in some states, a master’s could mean earning a salary approaching 70-grand.
And though a master’s isn’t generally required, there are some states including New York, California, and Oregon that do require teachers to eventually earn a master’s for advanced permanent licensure. Many other states provide incentives for teachers who earn a master’s, often offering advanced standing credentials. In many settings, your master’s degree quickly pays for itself, whether your district gives you a yearly stipend for continuing education, or whether you get bumped up on the pay scale.
If you’re choosing to pursue a master’s degree, be sure that you look into your district’s policies regarding continuing education and pay. Explore what your district has to offer by way of stipends and revisit the pay scale in your union contract, or, if you’re in a private setting, speak to your supervisor.
Money aside, what you learn in your master’s program can make you a more effective teacher. You may develop lessons or units that engage more students or present a new approach to teaching a concept. Your graduate program will teach you how to make data-driven decisions, using assessments more effectively. One of the coolest things is that enrolling in a master’s in education program will put you side-by-side with other ambitious teachers, allowing you to connect and collaborate, which will only add to your portfolio of possibilities for the classroom.
Can I Teach Anywhere with a Master’s in Education?
If you’re toying with the idea of moving districts, you may be asking: can I teach anywhere with a master’s in education? As a general rule, the answer to this question is, yes! A master’s in education should meet or exceed the requirements for teaching in any district around the country, and even open up opportunities to teach overseas at international schools. The one big caveat to that is that states and individual districts often have specific curriculum requirements. For example, some states in the western US require all teachers to have some ESL courses under their belts. Area universities build the curriculum in the education master’s programs they offer around these requirements. But any gaps in education you might have when relocating to a new area can almost always be filled through professional development opportunities offered through the state, or a short course at a local university.
There is some merit to the argument that if you have a master’s degree, some districts won’t be able to afford you, or they won’t pay you more. But for every district that can’t hire you because of your master’s, there is probably another district that requires a master’s and will bump you up on the pay scale accordingly.
A teacher’s salary with a master’s degree will vary across states After you earn your master’s and weigh the cost of your degree with your bump in pay, you may explore the benefits of moving to another area of the country.
In some public school districts, your bump in pay is next to nothing. In others, like the Alpine School District in Utah or the Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland, your yearly salary could increase by as much as $12,000. Overall, the average shakes out to about another $6,000 a year – not bad by any measure!
If you’re exploring master’s in education jobs, ask yourself if you are willing and have the means to move to a district where your salary bump will offset both the cost of more education and the cost of living in that area.
Leadership Roles are Some of the Best Master’s in Education Jobs Available
Many teachers earn their master’s degree to become a principal or superintendent, which not only earns them a higher salary, but also allows them to enact change in their district.
Have you always had ideas related to how your district could revise its behavioral policy? With a master’s in educational leadership, you could become an assistant principal and be responsible for handling disciplinary issues.
Becoming an administrator also allows you to move out of the classroom and bounce around to other classrooms as you complete teacher evaluations. You get to see what other teachers are doing and how they’re doing it, and in meetings, you can encourage collaboration and innovation in your district.
Getting into administration can be an ideal path for enacting changes in your district. If you want to lead, but don’t necessarily want to work as a principal or superintendent, many districts offer additional incentives for those with advanced education. You could become a department head or take on an instructional coaching or curriculum development job within your district, training and mentoring other teachers as they implement the school’s standards. What this means is that a master’s in education can actually equip you with the skills and qualifications to make decisions that impact students’ learning across your school district.
What Else Can I Do with a Master’s in Education? – Exploring Non-Traditional Master’s in Education Jobs
Aside from continuing to teach or work in the public school system, you may be asking yourself: what else can I do with a master’s in education? You might be surprised at the different kind of master’s in education jobs you’ll find out there:
There are a host of private companies out there that offer professional development, consulting, and curriculum coaching to school districts across the nation. Companies like Cognia Connect, which help schools earn and renew their accreditation, and resources like Independent Educational Consultants Association are just a few examples. Many districts are eager to hire outside consultants to train teachers who are fresh out of undergraduate programs or who are new to the profession.
Consider the niche skills that you bring to the classroom and to the world of education. Maybe you have an interesting, fresh approach to teaching across disciplines, and you’ve written a unit that combines science and English. A master’s in education will equip you with the skills and confidence to do things like creating workshops about cross-curricular teaching so you can train other teachers in your area.
Maybe you’re passionate about developmental design or trauma-informed teaching, and you want to help other teachers understand it. Maybe you earn a master’s in gifted education, and you consult for school districts who are interested in starting a program for gifted children.
Consider how you may share your unique skills with other teachers, and earn a master’s in education so that you can market yourself as a qualified, knowledgeable consultant.
Educational Technology Research and Development
Of course, there are different types of master’s in education programs to choose from, and some may even prepare you with the skills you need to create something new for the world of teaching and learning.
A master’s in educational technology, for example, may give you the tools to create a new app for engaging children in the sciences. You may go on to pursue doctorate-level research, which could influence how we structure lessons or approach children with behavioral challenges. Have an idea for how your dream school would run? With a master’s in education, you could even become an entrepreneur and launch your own school or online teaching services.
A graduate-level program will challenge you to conduct research, collaborate with others, and create solutions to challenges in the world of education. These skills equip you to pursue your own path, if you choose to do so.
Getting a master’s in education doesn’t mean that you have to work with children or adolescents. You can also get a master’s degree to work in adult education. This could mean teaching college students in a teacher preparation program, facilitating a tutoring center on a college campus, or working with adults in a post-secondary school setting, like a language-learning program or certificate program. You could teach in an alternative setting for motivated adults who are looking to earn a GED.
In a job market that requires that we hone our skills and cultivate new ones, many people are consistently going back to school for more qualifications. With a master’s in Education, you will be qualified to teach adults who are looking to learn more about a specific field.
Become a Corporate Trainer
Not only can a master’s in adult education prepare you to teach in a post-secondary program, but it will also make you more qualified to teach in a corporate setting. Many private companies and organizations need to train their employees on a set of skills, whether leadership, communication, diversity and inclusion, or in new systems and programs. As an educator, you know how to learn a skill, master a skill, and to teach that skill to people who will apply it. Consider how your understanding of how people learn translates to settings outside the classroom.
If you’re coming from a school, working in a corporate setting may feel new to you. Before you dismiss the idea, keep in mind that in some areas, a learning and development manager can make as much as $100,000 per year according to what we found on job board sites: a huge pay increase from many jobs in the public school system.
Work in Government and Change Education Policy
If you’ve been working as a teacher already, or if you’ve been paying attention to some of the changes happening in the field, you know that within education, there are layers of bureaucratic policies and systems that influence how we teach and how children learn. Since you’re reading this article, you’re also probably someone who has ideas and opinions about new policies and possibilities.
From Oregon’s changing requirements for high school graduation to states exploring new standardized testing measures, getting involved in your state’s department of education can mean that you represent teachers’ needs and concerns. It can also mean that you get involved in making decisions that will impact students, parents, teachers, and administrators. A master’s in public administration or educational policy can help you represent teachers, students, and parents, and enact changes that will influence how we as a nation teach.
With COVID rocking the world of public education, more state governments are looking to revise the way that they think about schools, and we need leaders who will make decisions that benefit students across the nation. By earning a master’s in education, you will be more qualified to participate in those changes and influence the future of education.
Ready to take the next step? Find a Master’s in education degree program near you!