A Brief Guide to Earning A Teaching Degree

To simply say that one is a “teacher” is a bit vague for many. This is because there are a variety of specialties and levels of education. Considering which specialty and level one wishes to pursue is one of the first steps in obtaining a teaching degree. Once received, a teaching degree can lead to a lifelong career that is incredibly rewarding.

Specialities and Areas of Education

Often, a bachelor of education will branch off into three levels of education: early childhood, elementary, or secondary education. Early childhood education typically focuses on children from the ages of 3-5, though infants are often included. They tend to specialize in the early learning and development of young children, which tend to be more unstructured and play-based.

Elementary education is defined differently in different areas — sometimes those who study childhood education can teach up until the third grade. While students studying elementary education will learn how to teach all subject areas in the elementary curriculum, the focus and approach to teaching will vary, depending on the general age group. Thus, it is important to have an idea of which age group one is interested in teaching before pursuing elementary education.

Secondary education become more specialized by content. Those who wishes to teach in a secondary school environment will need to obtain a license in a specific subject area along with their degree. These subjects could include English, fine arts, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, family studies, or business.

Since special education is extremely important within the teaching field, it often requires its own particular certification or degree. It is often categorized as a specialization within education. There are, however, options for some to minor in special education alongside their teaching degree.

To teach at a post-secondary level, such as colleges or universities, one is required to obtain one or multiple advanced degrees. This can be a master’s degree, an education specialist degree, or a doctoral degree.

Getting a Degree (or more)

To obtain a teaching certificate or licensure in most states usually requires one to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a particular area of education. Besides the ones mentioned above, there are often other different types of program depending on the university or college. Thus, it is best for one to research through school websites, or contacting an admissions or academic counselor. Typically, a bachelor’s degree in education is completed within four to five years.

For some states, special education teachers will need to have a master’s degree in order to be eligible to obtain a teaching certificate or licensure to teach. Those who wish to enter administration or counseling will also need to obtain a master’s degree in order to obtain proper licenses.

Those aspiring to teach at a post-secondary level often do not need a teaching certification, however there is more of a focus on graduate degrees.

Employment Opportunities and Salaries

In the U.S, each state has a list of areas where there are shortages in a particular area of education. Most states offer incentives for educators to teach in these areas. Some of the incentives offered are student loan forgiveness, bonuses, or added stipends.

While shortages are dependent on state, areas such as special education, foreign language, and the sciences are common shortages that exist nationally. Thus, teachers with degrees in these shortage areas often have a great deal of job opportunities, as well as the added incentives offered by state. That being said, licensed elementary and secondary school teachers usually find many employment opportunities whether there is a shortage in an area of education or not.

Teacher salaries differ by country; salaries in the United States have been considered sub-par. Salaries also typically depend on one’s years of experience in the teaching field as well as educational level. The national average for teacher salaries land generally around $57,000 annually, according to BLS reports in 2015. There continues to be efforts to increase teacher salaries, and it is expected to grow.

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