Do I Need A Masters Degree In Education?

"I just earned a Bachelors of Arts in Education. I’m certified to teach elementary school but haven’t found a position yet. People have been strongly suggesting that I take this time to go to graduate school for a Masters Degree in Education. Is that a good use of my time and money right now?"

asked by Billy B. from Phoenix, AZ

You only need a B.A. and certification to get a teaching position. Of course, having them doesn’t mean you will find a job right away. In fact, it may take some time to get your own classroom and you don’t want to waste time in the interim.

A master’s degree in education can be very beneficial. It can mean an increase in salary, depending on the state where you will be teaching. With teacher salaries generally low that can be a big incentive to go on to graduate school. In 2008 teachers in the state of New York with a bachelor’s degree and no experience made $45,430. The same teacher with a master’s degree made $51,425.

Of course graduate school tuition also must be considered. It can cost $10,000 to $15,000 for one year. That means you could be responsible for as much as $30,000 after graduation. That is in addition to undergraduate loans. You will eventually make the money back because of the increased salary you will earn. However, you need to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

A graduate degree program will certainly prepare you well for working in a classroom. You will learn more advanced techniques and strategies and get additional hands-on experience. The program will also enable you to interact with employed teachers. Teacher friends can be invaluable as you start out your career because they already know the ropes.

You wouldn’t be the only recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree moving directly into a master’s program. You will find many types of students in a master’s in education program. Some people decide to become teachers after getting a bachelor’s degree in another area. There are master’s degree programs that combine a master’s degree with certification to assist them. Many teachers work in their classrooms during the day while earning a master’s degree in the evenings. There are night courses to accommodate them.

In addition, just because you enroll in a graduate program full-time doesn’t mean you can’t change to part-time status down the line. If you find a teaching position and want to put your graduate degree on hold that is always an option. When you go on interviews it may put you ahead of the competition when the school hears you are working toward an advanced degree.

If you think you may want to become an administrator at some point then a master’s degree will be required. This could be a good time to get the work started. Once you start teaching you will have to deal with a steep learning curve. Classroom teachers have to hit the ground running, picking up many skills as they go along. You may not want to go to graduate school at that point.

You should base your decision about whether or not to get a master’s in education on all of these factors. No matter which decision you make, keep interviewing so that you can finally get your own classroom.

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