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What is Education?
Education is the area of practice, study, and employment that deals with processes and methods of imparting knowledge and training others. Education covers a variety of practices, specializations, levels, and methods which may be applied to a specific classroom setting or a school as a whole. Individuals at the highest level of the field utilize theory to try to uncover which methodologies will work best in promoting educational growth, often constructing new theories and experimental pedagogies.
How To Become a Teacher
To become a teacher or professional in the education field, you will need to follow a series of steps to achieve your goal. Akin to other licensed professionals, you will need to invest time and resources into your education before having the opportunity to apply for licensure in your state. The steps to help you become a teacher include the following:
- Your Priorities – Creating a personal priority list first will serve you well. This list will include your career goals and academic aspirations. Ultimately, this will serve you much better than a media conglomerate pitching zero percent credit cards or discounted timeshares in Bali. You can quickly find a list of starter questions on pages three and four of our college admissions guide. After digesting this comprehensive guide, investing time to understand how to get into your top school and minimizing college costs will be next on your list.
- Get Feedback – Ask family members, teachers, counselors, alumni, and friends for feedback. This process will help ensure your priority list is on track and aligned with your long-term objectives prior to making any formal decisions about college admissions.
- Self-Assess – Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses, to help you more efficiently narrow down your college options in the education field. The assessment should include grades, personality, passions, lifestyle goals, and career aspirations. winnow down school options leading to a computer programming degree.
- Getting Matched & Apply – Get matched to quality, accredited colleges by requesting information from them via this resource page or our proprietary matching After receiving school information from a handful of top colleges, you can then assess your likelihood of admissions. By taking the time to understand a school’s admissions requirements, policies, education parameters, cost, program length, and curriculum is essential before submitting your application for admissions. On your college application, invest the time to highlight any and all work experience in teaching or leadership positions to help you stand out in a pool of qualified college applicants.
- Financial Aid – As your college application is in queue with the admissions department, take the time to ask specific questions about financial aid options. Collect information on the school’s grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and loans before committing to an education program.
- College Acceptance – By taking the time to align your goals with the school’s offerings and overall costs, you will be more readily able to make a quality decision about college. After deciding on the best college program for you, it will be time to schedule time for orientation and register for classes.
- Earn Your Degree – The next step in the process is to complete the education program and student teaching requirements of your college. Pay special attention to skill development and projects in education that transfer to the workplace or classroom. These transferrable skills will be invaluable in your career regardless of the sector you work.
- Examinations and Licensure - After earning your degree in teaching, you must pivot to address your state's requirements. State agencies will typically require teachers to pass background checks and fingerprinting along with professional requirements. Teachers must hold proper certifications, licensure, and pass applicable tests prescribed by states. After meeting all state-based requirements, you can apply for teaching jobs. Jobs are typically obtained through private schools or public school districts. The key to finding a great teaching job for you is to understand the culture, expectations, teaching methodologies, and school pedagogy.
- Work Experience – After being in the work force for a period of time, you may choose to continue your education. Earning an additional teaching certifications or degree can help increase your pay and overall skill set. Teachers are required to maintain a teaching license active perpetually with continuing education courses.
Top Online Degrees in Education
With a number of college degree programs to choose from, how do you know which online degree is best for you? The answer is a personal choice and not a global choice so you will need to determine what is most important to you and find a program that best fits you and your career aspirations. Once you have a working priority list in place, the path towards earning an education degree from a top college for you will come into focus. Degree options in education include the following programs:
Online Bachelor Degree in Education
Bachelor’s degrees Education are conferred as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) depending on the curricular design of the degree program. Bachelor degrees are typically 4-year programs for full-time students that provide an opportunity for students to blend general education classes such as speech communication, English composition, and philosophy with core courses.
Core curriculum in education will often include courses such as portfolio management, educational philosophy, childhood psychology, learning theory, principles of education, educational philosophy, classroom management, a capstone course, and student teaching. The student teaching piece of the program provides hands-on learning in a real-world classroom to best prepare teachers for a classroom of their own.
Online Master’s Degree in Education
A master’s degree in education is often a 1-2 year program of full time matriculation after successfully meeting all lower level course requirements. Master’s degree programs in education equip students and working professionals for leadership positions in education and help to enhance career opportunities in the education field.
As you research graduate degree programs, you will learn that many schools offer a variety of choice. Graduate students will have the choice to enroll in a standard master's program or a specialty track. Those students seeking a specific educational concentration may have the opportunity to select from various choices. A sampling of education concentrations at the master's degree level include the following: science education, counseling, early childhood education, literacy and language, educational leadership, teacher leadership, special education, secondary education, reading and language arts, leadership, international education, or digital literacy.
Online Doctorate Degree in Education
Doctorate degree programs in education are conferred as a PhD and last 3-6 years after meeting all lower-level degree requirements and dependent upon the number of classes taken at a given time. The bulk of accredited colleges and universities offering degrees in education allow students to elect an area of specialization in lieu of a general education degree education.
Examples of areas of concentration for PhD students in an education program include: organizational design, educational leadership, curriculum & instruction, early childhood education, counseling, special education, public policy, and school administration. The doctorate programs prepare students for advanced teaching opportunities in higher education, administrative positions, or research opportunities in the private or public sector.
Online Certificate in Education
Online certificates in education are tools used by graduate students to upskill and take advantage of learning modalities to continue learning and advancing in their field of study. The online certificate programs provide skills and knowledge to trained, licensed teachers to help them expand career opportunities and grow in a defined area of education. To qualify for a graduate certificate program from an accredited college or university, you will need to meet all lower level prerequisites prior to matriculation.
Benefits of Earning an Education Degree Online
Universities and colleges in all corners of the country are quickly adding online degree programs to keep pace with demand from employers and students. As the single fastest growing segment in higher education degree programs, distance learning programs are projected to continue evolving and being a core learning modality for the foreseeable future. The reasons for students to consider earning a college degree online are multi-varied yet commonalities are grouped together in a few areas: cost, convenience, access, and quality. An overview of the benefits of earning an education degree online include:
- Cost – The indirect and direct costs of an online degree tend to be inherently less than on-site degrees. Three drivers for this difference include the following elements: a) distance learning allows students greater access and flexibility to continue working. Generating income and attending college reduces opportunity cost from lost wages; b) online learners do not live on-campus and save significant cost associated with housing, food, and transportation; c) distance learning programs accredited by national or regional organizations allow students to qualify for federal financial aid. In aggregate, the cost savings of these items can be significant for teachers of all abilities and backgrounds.
- Curriculum – Online learning programs have rapidly advanced in the last ten years. Online degrees in education will typically have a capstone course, final project, thesis, student teaching, cumulative exam, dissertation, and/or portfolio project at varying levels of degree programs. Having a degree overview, a published syllabus, and quality curricular design, students are provided key milestones and check-points to ensure comprehension and continued engagement.
- Accreditation – Schools offering online learning opportunities that have earned a regional or national accreditation will be essential to your future. It is important to understand that accreditation is only granted to schools by independent, third-party organizations that have extensively vetted a school’s processes, procedures, and curriculum to ensure quality standards are maintained.
- Speed – Online degree programs in education can be self-paced, thereby allowing students to spend time learning when they see fit on their way towards degree completion. With many schools starting online classes every 6-8 weeks, distance learning students are no longer bound by traditional school year schedules and can start throughout the year.
- Flexibility – Students enrolled in an online degree program can join class when convenient and not be constrained by the traditional trappings of the physical requirements of an on-site class. Flexibility is a big win for students and working professional’s intent on growing professionally and upskilling in the field of education.
- Access – Students can log-on and access their education classes at any time without needing to be in a specific location at a set time of day. Fewer restrictions means that students have a broad range of degree options to choose from depending on passion, career trajectory, and intent of the degree.
Educational Requirements for Teachers
A degree in education can be earned at a variety of levels, starting from certification all the way to a doctorate. The level of education is dictated by the type of work the student wishes to be qualified for, with high level degrees typically providing access to higher level and more varied forms of teaching jobs.
Students of these programs will cover a variety of topics, including methods and techniques to promote interest in typically underwhelming subjects, how to hold a student's attention, what forms of activities best promote memory retention and other such subjects.
Students may also work under the supervision of professionals during externships in order to obtain practical experience and familiarize themselves with the application of learned methodologies. A curriculum in education may include:
- Education Theory
- Art Education and Application
- Student Behavior and Development
Employment for Teachers and Licensure
Education is very large field that offers a variety of employment opportunities and specializations; for instance, an individual having earned a bachelor's degree may seek to specialize in the education of art, and seek certification in that area of study in order to be qualified as an art educator.
There is a need for professional educator's throughout the country for all types, including those who have a broader general and comprehensive approach to education. Individuals with higher level degrees may seek employment at colleges and universities. If so, they may eventually be involved in policy development, construction of theory, and/or pedagogy development via research studies. Every state will have requirements governing the licensure of educators which must be followed when seeking employment.
Individuals seeking a career in a specific state should research the state's licensure procedure and try to fulfill them as quickly as possible. It is important to note that licensure is only required for individuals seeking employment with public institutions.
Top Ranked Education Degree Programs
The National Council on Teacher Quality or NCTQ has ranked the following accredited colleges and universities by quality of programming for elementary education in the United States of over 2,600 programs on 19 different criterion. The list of schools landing in the 96th percentile or higher include:
Teaching Salary & Job Growth
Salary for an educator will vary greatly based on location, education and position. For example, the median annual income for a high school teacher is $58,030. It is important to point out the immense range in income for teachers. To illustrate, the BLS estimates the top 10% of teachers earn $92,920 annually while the bottom ten percent earn $38,180 per year.
Education is a growing field. As population increases the need for educators increases naturally, particularly in the United States where public education is available and students under the age of 18 in particular are required to attend school.
Opportunities tend to be higher in areas with large concentrations of people, such as urban centers, though budgetary conflicts may reduce employment opportunities in a given state or area for a period of time.
List of Education Associations for Teachers
- Association for Experiential Education
- National Association for Bilingual Education
- American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
- National Education Association
- National Science Teachers Association
- Association for Educational Communications and Technology
- International Society for Technology in Education
- National Art Education Association
- American Educational Research Association
- National Association for Gifted Children
- National Council for the Social Studies
- International Reading Association
- National Association for the Education of Young Children
- Association of Educational Service Agencies
- American Federation of Teachers
- Council for Exceptional Children
- Association for Middle Level Education
- Learn, Teach, Lead
- National Council of Teachers of English
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
- United States Distance Learning Association
Individuals interested in education may also be interested in early childhood education, elementary education, or education administration. For more information about a career in teaching, check out The Single Most Comprehensive Guide to a Teaching Career post on our blog.