Where Should I Specialize to Get the Best Value Out of My Education Degree?

Today’s education students have a wealth of opportunities available in an economy that is increasingly emphasizing new types of education and new types of schools, making education degree concentrations an area of intense debate. Many future educators want to know which areas of the industry are growing the fastest so that they can specialize their degree to accommodate the most active parts of this new education economy. The good news for those students is that they have several excellent choices when it comes to specializing their skills and increasing their chances of landing a rewarding, enriching position at the head of a classroom.

Special Education

A concentration in special education is one of the best choices today’s students can make if they wish to get the best value out of their education program. In recent years, a long list of new regulations has required most public and charter schools to have highly specialized, special education professionals who can meet the needs of both gifted and learning disabled students at all grade levels. The special education coursework at most universities therefore focuses more heavily on developmental psychology, teaching gifted learners, and special accommodations in the classroom. Graduates will often be hired either as co-teachers who work alongside other educators, or as leaders of their own classrooms that focus on specialized content.

STEM Teachers

Another great way to maximize the value of a degree in education is to specialize it in a STEM content area. STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, is the most concentrated area of hiring for teachers at the secondary level. High schools are increasingly funneling high-achieving students into their “STEM Academy” model high schools, where classes focus more intensively on these four fields. Students are often placed in high-level algebra classes in 9th grade, putting them on track to advance into college-level math, science, and technology courses prior to their graduation from high school. In many cases, STEM-related teaching positions also pay a premium over teaching jobs in the liberal arts and at elementary levels, giving these educators the ability to more quickly pay off the cost of their degree.

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5-Year B.S. / M.S. Degree Programs

Another way to get an even better value out of an education degree is to consider a hybrid program that adds one year of extra coursework, but allows a student to graduate with both a B.S. and M.S. in their chosen field of education. The good news for students who graduate from a program like this is that they will typically be placed higher on the teacher pay scale in their state and they’ll leap ahead of other applicants who have not yet achieved their Master’s degree in education. In most states, a graduate degree also makes teachers eligible for permanent licensure, rather than “beginning,” or temporary licensure to teach in front of a classroom. Furthermore, teachers who have both an undergraduate and a graduate degree can seek adjunct instructor positions at community colleges that will help them add to their annual income and repay the cost of their combined degree program more quickly.

Three Great Ways to Get More Value of This Degree

Today’s savvy teachers are always looking for ways to turn their education into an opportunity to add long-term value to their careers, and there are many ways in today’s educational environment to do just that. One thing to consider is getting your general education credits from a community college, either locally or out of state. From STEM programs and special education concentrations to combined B.S. / M.S. programs in education, value can be added in some very innovative ways. This can make the pursuit of an education degree even more rewarding for aspiring teachers everywhere.