Deciding to pursue a master’s of education immediately after earning a bachelor’s in the field depends on the type of teaching that will be done and career goals. Most education employers request candidates to supply a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school with appropriate endorsements to instruct at specific grade levels. These endorsements are typically for pre-K, elementary, middle and high school settings as approved by individual state boards of education. However, there are many educational occupations that demand a greater breadth and depth of knowledge thus requiring advanced degrees. If an aspiring teacher plans a career in one of these areas, then obtaining a Master in Education immediately following an undergraduate program may be a consideration.
Specialized Teaching Fields and Master’s Degrees
Examples of educational positions requiring a master’s degree include the following:
- Special educators who instruct students identified with cognitive, learning, emotional, health or physical disabilities
- Subject area or college-level teachers responsible for advanced levels of academic instruction
- School psychologists or diagnostic specialists who conduct educational assessments.
- Guidance counselors who work with students to plan educational programs and assist with social integration
- Educators who take on administrative roles to plan curriculum, train teachers or oversee programs
- Teachers in support or electives programs like reading, art or music
Often, teachers will begin their careers working in the classroom with bachelor’s credentials and take coursework over time to earn an advanced degree in a field of interest. This frequently happens for those who move into administrative positions or decide to teach at higher academic levels. For others, such as special educators, reading teachers or school counselors, earning a Master in Education must usually be accomplished prior to beginning a teaching career.
Pathways to Master in Education Degrees
Post-secondary institutions frequently offer five-year, dual-degree education programs that shave about a year off traditional completion times for earning two separate degrees. Graduates of these programs therefore emerge with bachelor’s and master’s credentials alongside appropriate teaching endorsements. By comparison, traditional routes to earn a Master of Education take 18 to 24 months to complete following the acquisition of a four-year bachelor’s degree. Either route allows aspiring teachers to begin teaching careers upon program completion. Deciding which path to take often depends on program availability, type of specialization, scheduling preferences, and financial considerations.
Career Benefits for Obtaining a Master’s of Education
Several career benefits make earning a master’s degree in education attractive. Statistics reveal that teaching professionals with master’s degrees currently earn higher salaries in every state compared to bachelor’s degree-holders, and the pay gap widens with years of commensurate experience. Additionally, those with masters frequently get tapped for roles as department or committee chairs, which may include stipends or lead to other advancement opportunities. Finally, obtaining a master’s degree can be a competitive edge for landing preferred teaching jobs in many geographical locations nationwide.
Completing an advanced education degree immediately following an undergraduate program can be a career-changing decision for aspiring teachers. Whether opting for fast-track or traditional pathways to accomplish such a goal, looking towards the benefits such a decision can provide may help determine if pursuing a master’s of education before embarking on a teaching career makes sense.