Next to mothers and fathers, teachers are the most influential people on earth. They inspire trust and confidence in young people and motivate each student to reach the highest potential. A graduate degree in education teaches teachers the nuts-and-bolts of education—how to design an effective curriculum, how to guide challenging students, how to bring out the best in gifted students, how to manage the classroom on a day-to-day basis. It's after graduation with a master's or doctoral degree in education that the teacher's skills are put to the test in the field. Working with kids or college students of all ages brings you a rewarding career.
Begin your search for a school of education by requesting brochures, admission information and financial aid information from 4 to 6 schools. Even if you have your heart set on a particular teaching university, more information opens your mind to all the special programs and courses that might be out there. Narrow your choices to 2 to 3 schools and contact admissions counselors. Ask about courses, degrees, faculty, distance learning, the campus and community. Even if you attend a traditional university, you may still take some teaching courses online to complete your master's degree. Check into your state's requirements for licensing and certification—each state has different qualifications. Finally, if you have a particular school district or college in mind for your future job, ask them if the teaching colleges you're considering are acceptable for their hiring practices.
At the masters degree level, future teachers typically earn an MIT (Master's in Teaching) or an MEd (Master's in Education). The MIT is most common for preschool, elementary, high school, and special ed teachers. The M.Ed. Degree guides students into careers in curriculum and instruction, educational psychology, counseling, leadership, or special education. At the doctoral level, you may earn an EdD (Doctorate in Education), which is equivalent to a PhD in other career fields. This degree provides a path into education administration, and is probably required for teaching postsecondary and college/university students. A PhD in Education is slightly different. This doctorate prepares you to conduct research as well as teach, as you might do at a college or university.
Job growth in all fields of education and educational administration is expected to remain steady for at least the next ten years. Student achievement and accountability are a continuing focus, so highly-trained teachers are vital to the field. Some areas of the country are facing teacher shortages and there continues to be a lack of science and math teachers at all public school and private school grade levels, so opportunities for educators to land great jobs abound. In higher education, colleges and universities are demanding skilled administrators and most careers have average salaries in the $100,000 to $150,000 range. To reach the top of the educational career ladder, teachers and administrators must have graduate degrees in highly specialized fields.
Early childhood and elementary education teachers typically take a variety of courses (math, English, science, liberal arts) and also get a degree in education. Secondary teachers and higher education professors first specialize in the field they'll eventually teach, then take the required education courses. If you've been working for a while and decide to go back to school to become a teacher, you may need to take some bridge classes to round out your undergraduate education before entering a master's program in teaching. Your advisor will help you choose prerequisites. And don't forget to mention your work and life experiences—some universities grant college credit for life experience.