Earning and paying for a master's degree in education makes sense when it is required for the career you want. The minimum requirement for most jobs in education is a bachelor's degree. However, to advance in these positions or to qualify for a career with higher responsibility, a master's degree is generally required. There are many education careers that specifically require a graduate degree as the minimum entry credential. Specialize in the area of education that directly leads to the career you want.
If you want to be a K-12 principal or superintendent, you will need to have a minimum of a master's degree in most states. In addition to the degree requirements, you may have to complete an administrative internship and have several years of teaching experience. Other administrative jobs that require a minimum of a master's degree in education include special education directors, curriculum directors, program directors and grant administrators.
A master's degree is generally the minimum requirement for teaching at the college level. Graduates with teaching experience can generally find jobs teaching at community and four-year colleges. They may find jobs teaching remedial classes, student development classes, college-level study skills, English as a foreign language or adult basic education. Graduates who have previously taught in the K-12 setting and who earn a master's degree can qualify for college-level positions in the teacher education department.
Many professional jobs in higher education require a master's degree to get your foot in the door. Careers such as academic advisors, department or program directors, college deans, educational specialists, program coordinators and counselors generally seek candidates with a master's degree. Some institutions also award employees who earn a master's degree with a pay raise, even if the job title does not require a master's degree to get the job.
Most school districts encourage K-12 teachers to earn a master's degree with automatic pay increases and the possibility for additional responsibility. Some teachers earn a master's degree in the subject they teach to improve their effectiveness. However, the majority earn a master's degree in education. Teachers in Washington state earn an average of $11,000 a year more for their master's degree; this might help explain why 48 percent of teachers nationwide have earned this degree as of 2008, even though it is not required for the basic teaching job.
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