Teaching Degrees and Certificates: Careers, Salaries, and Trends

Degrees in Education & Teaching CertificatesTeachers are generally caring individuals who want to make a difference in a child’s life. Nothing is more rewarding than to have a student say they remember a certain teacher as being the best in all their school years. Most of this comes from choosing the right type of teaching. Read below and learn about what’s available as well as requirements to become a teacher and what to expect.

Degrees in Education: How to Become a Teacher

Becoming a teacher requires completing a certain level of education. At the very least, you must have a bachelor’s degree in education. The type of degree or area of specialization you choose will depend on what and who you want to teach and your state’s requirements. For instance, if you want to teach kindergarten through eighth grade (often simply referred to as “K through 8”), you would need a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Some states also require that their educators specialize in certain subjects such as science or math. Although teachers working in private schools are not required to be certified or licensed, certification and/or licensure are required in every state. Before teachers can be certified, they’re usually required to complete field work or student teaching to gain some experience in classroom setting. The number of hours of student teaching that’s required varies by the state. Some states may also require that their educators earn master’s degrees after they’ve obtained certification.

Best Place to Get a Degree in Teaching

The best place to earn a degree in teaching is through a university. Although community colleges and technical schools offer many excellent career-oriented programs, they only offer up to 2-year programs. To become a teacher, you must complete at least a bachelor’s degree, which is a 4-year program. Students may complete some of their general education credits at a community college or even online, but when it comes time to pursue the actual teaching degree, they’ll need the type of program offered only at universities.

Types of Teaching Degrees

Once you’ve decided that you definitely want to become a teacher, you’ll have many more decisions to make, specifically what and who you want to teach. Although teaching degrees are generally either bachelor or master degree programs, there are several different types of teaching degrees and each of them is used for a specific type of teaching.

  • Early Childhood Education Degree – This type of degree is for teachers who wish to work with young children from birth to grade three. They often offer specific tracks in primary education or pre-primary education. It also prepares teachers to teach more than one subject area.
  • Elementary Education Degree – This degree type is for those who want to teach children from kindergarten through 6th, 7th or 8th grade. This degree also prepares teachers to teach a variety of subjects.
  • High School Education Degree – This type of degree is for those who are interested in teaching students in grades 8-12. You’ll learn various professional teaching methods and can choose to major in a specific subject such as math, history, English, science art, music or physical education.
  • Special Education Degree – This type of teaching degree allows the teacher to focus on a specific age level, grade level or disability type. For instance, you may choose to work exclusively with students who have speech problems, language difficulties, behavior problems or physical disabilities.

What About Online Education?

Students who are interested in pursuing careers in teaching no longer have to rely on just one campus and the constant hassle of traveling each day – not with online education so readily available. Online education allows aspiring teachers to do their assignments at their own pace while continuing to work full-time at their regular jobs and still meet other obligations. Today students can complete almost their entire teaching degree online, with the exception of the student teaching portion.

There are some things to be aware of, however, when looking for online teaching degrees. Beware of the many “diploma mills” that advertise that they’re accredited when they’re really only accredited in their minds so to speak. Look for schools that are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the Department of Education

Job Outlook for Teachers Careers

The job outlook for teachers continues to be fairly good, although some can expect better employment opportunities than others. The two factors that contribute the most favorably to the job outlook for teachers are the increasing enrollments and the decreasing student-teacher ratios. Additionally, employment growth will also vary by geographic location.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), kindergarten and elementary school teachers can expect an employment growth of 12% between 2012 and 2022 while high school and special education teachers would only see a growth of about six percent. The one factor that will help special education teachers is the constant need for more teachers to deal with special needs situations.

Teaching Salaries: How Much Money Do Teachers Make?

The salaries one can make as a teacher can vary a lot depending on both where they teach, what teaching degree they have and what types of teachers they are. The BLS reported that kindergarten and elementary school teachers earned an average annual wage of $53,090 in 2012 while middle school teachers earned $53,430 and high school and special education teachers earned just over $55,000.

The BLS also reported that postsecondary art, music or drama teachers earned an average annual wage of $62,380 as of May 2013. Other factors that may affect wages include number of certifications the teacher has obtained, years of teaching experience and the geographic location. For instance, the mean annual wage for kindergarten teachers in California in 2013 was $63,940 while kindergarten teachers in Idaho only earned $42,050 that same year.

2014 Trends in Teaching We Can Expect

Although when we think of teaching we often reminisce how we were taught back in the day. However, teaching has changes drastically since then and continues to change every year. According to Huffington Post, here are three teaching trends we can look forward to seeing in the classroom.

  • Collaborative – Teachers will combine basic teaching with media, social networking and other online resources to make learning easier and more fun.
  • Tech-powered – Everything today is combined with technology and teaching is no exception. Whether it’s Skype, Google Maps or Microsoft Movie Maker, students will learn through technology.
  • Blended – This is what we’ve been trying to do for several years now – combining traditional teaching with computers.

Careers Similar to Teaching

Although you may have had your heart set on teaching a specific grade level, it helps to be aware of similar careers, some which require less education and some require more. Here is a list of some similar careers, the education requires and the average annual wages they earned as of May 2013, according to the BLS.

  • Technical Education Teachers – $51,910 – Bachelor’s Degree
  • Childcare workers – $19,510 – High School Diploma and some classes
  • Librarians – $55,370 – Master’s Degree
  • Pre-school Teachers – $27,130 – Associate Degree
  • Social Workers – $44,200 – Bachelor’s Degree
  • Teacher assistant – $23,640 – some college courses
  • Correctional specialist – $48,190 – Bachelor’s Degree
  • School counselor – $53,610 – Master’s Degree
  • Community health educator – $41,830 – Bachelor’s Degree
  • Substance abuse counselor – $38,520 – High School Diploma and some classes