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Education programs and careers

Education is a career choice that never goes out of style. People of all ages have an ongoing need to learn new skills and gain knowledge, and education majors are the logical choice to help meet that need. Today's educators do everything from instructing 1st graders in English basics to helping adults navigate their way around a computer.

Educators aren't just in steady demand. They also may have one of the most fundamentally important jobs available today. In fact, a 2012 study from RAND Education found teachers are the most important school-related factor when it comes to student achievement.

If you've been looking for a rewarding career, it's time to take a closer look at online education programs. We've got answers to all your questions about education degrees and career options.

Education Teaching

What types of education degree programs are there?

If you want to major in education, you have a couple different degree options. Which one you select may depend largely on your intended career path:

  • Associate degree: A two-year degree won't let you be licensed as a teacher, but it could be used for jobs such as that of a teaching assistant. Students may also want to earn an associate degree in education to learn more about the field and determine whether it's a good fit for them. Credits from an associate degree can usually be transferred toward a bachelor's degree in education if needed.
  • Bachelor's degree: A four-year degree is the minimum education required by states for licensure as a teacher. Students may be required to major in education and meet other requirements, such as completing a period of student teaching, before being licensed by the state.
  • Master's degree: Although a master's degree isn't required for state licensure, some schools prefer to hire those with an advanced degree and those with a graduate degree may earn higher incomes. In some cases, a Master of Education may qualify someone with a bachelor's degree in another field to become licensed to teach.
  • Doctoral degree: A Doctor of Education may be pursued by someone interested in working at the highest levels of administration (think education administration degrees) or in the field of academic research.

What types of education careers are available?

5 surprising career choices for education majors

Not every education major goes on to become a teacher. Online education programs can prepare students to go on to the following careers as well:

    1. Small business owner: Some education majors may become their own boss by opening an education-related business such as a learning center or tutoring website.
      2. Writer or publisher: Others may develop their own learning materials such as curriculum guides, worksheets and supplemental aids to market to teachers and schools.
        3. Educational consultant: Teachers with years of experience in the classroom may put that expertise to work by providing consultancy work. They may be employed by a firm or work independently to provide schools and teachers with strategies to improve student outcomes. Some may be hired to help homeschooling families.
          4. Sales representative: Education programs may give individuals the perfect background to work as a sales representative for a textbook publisher or similar company.
            5. Instructional designer: Educational programs, including online learning platforms, need designers who can combine education expertise with technological know-how.

              Teaching is the most common career choice for education majors. However, even within this profession, there is a variety of positions available.

              • Teaching assistants: Assistants don't need to have a degree, but they do play an integral role in classrooms across the country. Also known as teacher aides, paraprofessionals or paraeducators, these individuals help teachers, supervise students and reinforce lessons as needed.
              • Preschool teachers: Preschool teachers may not need a four-year degree or licensure, depending on their state or employer. Those who want to work in a Head Start program need at least an associate degree. Teachers at this level may develop and implement a curriculum focused on early learning skills.
              • Kindergarten and elementary teachers: Teachers working with young children not only teach academic skills but may also be responsible for instructing students in social skills. Educators at this level typically need a bachelor's degree in elementary education.
              • Middle school teachers: At the middle school level, teachers may specialize in a specific area of instruction such as math, science or English. Depending on their state, they may have to have a major in their area of expertise as well as a major or minor in education.
              • High school teachers: To teach at the high school level, most states require individuals earn a bachelor's degree in their teaching subject area. In many schools, a teacher will then provide instruction in that subject exclusively.
              • Special education teachers: Teachers who want to work with students with physical, mental or learning disabilities often need to earn a specific degree in special education. For their job, they may work as part of a team to meet the needs of these students.

              Other educators may work with adults and teach college or vocational classes. For these jobs, teachers may be required to have a master's or doctoral degree although they don't necessarily have to have a major in education.

              Can you become a teacher through online education programs?

              Yes, a number of colleges and universities offer education programs online, like the ones listed below.

              Depending on the school, you may be able to earn anything from an associate degree in education to a Doctor of Education degree online. If you want to become a teacher at the elementary, middle or high school levels, look for a school that will help place you in a student teaching assignment or otherwise assist in ensuring you meet all your state's requirements for licensure.

              How much do educators make?

              An educator's income can vary depending on their education, experience and career path.

              According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following represent the nationwide average income for teachers at various levels in 2014:

              • Preschool teachers: $32,040
              • Kindergarten teachers: $53,480
              • Elementary teachers: $56,830
              • Middle school teachers: $57,620
              • High school teachers: $59,330

              Postsecondary teachers earn more with their income depending on their subject matter.

              Education majors who pursue non-traditional career paths, such as that of a business owner or consultant, may also find their income potential is greater.

              Who should become an educator?

              Education programs aren't for everyone. Teachers and educators need to have a specific skillset that will let them be successful in the classroom and within their profession.

              For example, educators need to be patient and empathetic. They have to be creative and innovative to adjust their lessons to fit a variety of learning styles. Enthusiasm and dedication are two other traits shared by great educators. Physical education teachers might need to crave an active workday, everyday.

              Teaching can be a thankless job at times, particularly if you're in front of a room of teenagers who would rather be anywhere other than school. The educators who shine in their jobs aren't in it for a paycheck or a pat on the back. Instead, they are the ones with a deep desire to make a difference in the world. If a career in education sounds right for you, start your journey by requesting info from the schools of your choice, below.

              ___

              Sources:
              1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition
              2. What to do With a Degree in Education, http://careerplanning.about.com/od/exploringoccupations/a/degree-in-education.htm
              3. TEACH, University of Southern California, http://teach.com
              4. Becoming an Educational Consultant, http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/free-resources/edupreneurs/becoming-a-consultant
              5. Teachers Matter: Understanding Teachers' Impact on Student Achievement, RAND Education, http://www.rand.org/education/projects/measuring-teacher-effectiveness/teachers-matter.html

              Program

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              • Early Childhood Education
              • Education Administration
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              • Teacher Assisting
              • Teaching

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              5 Program(s) Found
              • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
              • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
              • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
              • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
              • Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
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              • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
              • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
              • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
              • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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              University of Phoenix , Online (campus option available)
              • Provides career services that help students find careers that match their interests and map out a personalized career plan.
              • Offers mentorships and networking opportunities through an Alumni Association of 800,000+ graduates.
              • Has flexible start dates and class schedules.
              • Offers special military rates and special advisors who have a military background.
              • Gives students the chance to earn credits for applicable military training and education.
              • Locations nationwide and online options.
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              Good for Working Adults
              • Online Courses
              • Flexible Scheduling
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              5 Program(s) Found
              • Online school designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
              • Commited more than $60 million in tuition savings in 2015 through scholarships.
              • Active-duty military, veterans, and Veteran’s Administration employees can save 15% on tuition.
              • Offers 24/7 student services, including financial aid help, course registration, and career counseling.
              • Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
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              • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
              • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
              • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
              • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
              • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
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              • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
              • Ranked among the Best Online MBA Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
              • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
              • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
              • Online courses make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months and a master’s degree in 14-24 months.
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              • Online Courses
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              • Accelerated Programs
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              2 Program(s) Found
              • Ranked as one of the Best Regional Universities in the North in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
              • Ranked #23 on the list of Best Colleges for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
              • Ranked as one of the Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
              • Established in 1919 to offer part-time educational opportunities for adult students in law, business, and accounting.
              • Stays committed to providing educational opportunities to men and women of all ages and economic backgrounds.
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