Education degrees are extremely popular among aspiring teachers preparing for the often-challenging responsibility of educating the young minds of our nation’s next generation of citizens. As statistics indicate that around 440,000 certified teachers will be needed to serve America’s academic needs before 2020, education degrees are also a sound financial investment for unlocking a wealth of in-demand career opportunities expected to hold steady for the foreseeable future. Teaching may not be a get-rich-quick profession, but the median annual salary for public school teachers in the United States is $52,782, which is right on par with the the median salary of all professions ($51,939). Education careers also come with competitive benefits, serious vacation time, reasonable work hours, and the emotional reward of making a difference in children’s lives.
Types of Education Degrees
Individuals who thrive working with children in collaborative environments have education degree options to choose from at every academic level. For teaching assistant positions and early childhood education roles that don’t require state licensing, Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) and Associate of Arts (A.A.) degrees can be found at community colleges. Whether at the elementary, middle, or high school level, a bachelor’s degree will be required to have your own classroom. Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees can be found specialized in various teaching specialty areas.
While it may not be required in every state, around 52% of America’s public school teachers decide to continue their education to the master’s level or higher. Graduate schools offer students the ability to earn Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), Master of Education (M.Ed.), and Master of Science (M.S.) degrees in concentrated areas of education. Students aiming even higher towards administrative roles, such as superintendent or principal, typically will receive Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degrees. Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) programs are also offered beyond the master’s level in areas like school psychology, special education, educational administration, and school counseling.
Online vs. On-Campus Programs
Though virtually unheard of a decade ago, large online teacher education programs are quickly gaining steam and starting to dwarf their traditional brick-and-mortar counterparts, especially at the graduate level. Many students returning to school after starting families and/or changing career goals choose online learning because it offers a high level of convenience in completing coursework from anywhere with an Internet connection without daily commutes. Some schools might charge online education majors the same tuition fees as those enrolled on-campus, but many online universities offer unique discounts. Since transportation, housing, meal plans, parking, and lab fees aren’t necessary, online learning is often more affordable for educators.
Students considering enrolling in an online education degree may mistakenly believe that sitting around in their pajamas will be the norm, but teaching candidates will be held to the same high standards as their on-campus counterparts. Undergraduate programs will include at least 100 hours of field experience before a student teaching semester and graduate programs usually contain at least one internship or research project. Online teaching classes also have incredibly dynamic discussions that hold students more accountable than face-to-face courses. For the highest value in online education, be sure to choose a program accredited by CAEP or TEAC.
Start your search for affordable online education degrees by checking out these links:
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Education
- Top 9 Cheap Online Elementary Education Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)
- Top 10 Cheap Online Math Education Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)
- Top 13 Cheap Online Early Childhood Education Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)
- Top 14 Cheap Online Child Development Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)
- Top 14 Cheap Online Health Studies and Health Education Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)
- Top 10 Cheap Online Special Education Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)
Online Master’s Degrees in Education
- Top 15 Cheap Master’s in Special Education Online Degree Programs
- Top 10 Cheap Master’s in Science Education Online Degree Programs
- Top 10 Cheap Master’s in Math Education Online Degree Programs
- Top 15 Cheap Online Master’s in Online and Distance Education Degree Programs
- Top 10 Cheap Online Master’s in Reading and Literacy Education Degree Programs
- Top 10 Cheap Online Master’s in Secondary Education Degree Programs
- Top 10 Cheap Online Master’s in Educational Assessment and Evaluation Degree Programs
- Top 10 Cheap Online Master’s in English Language Learning Degree Programs
- Top 15 Cheap Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Degree Programs
- Top 15 Cheap Online Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration Degree Programs
- Top 15 Cheap Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs
- Top 10 Cheap Online Master’s in Educational Counseling and School Counseling Degree Programs
- Top 9 Cheap Online Master’s in Educational Technology Degree Programs
- Top 15 Cheap Online Master’s in Elementary Education Degree Programs
- Top 10 Cheap Online Master’s in Child Development and Early Childhood Studies Degree Programs
- Top 19 Cheap Online Master’s in Higher Education Degree Programs
- Top 10 Cheap Online Master’s in K-12 Teaching and Education Degree Programs
Financial Aid Options
Finding financial aid may seem like an arduous task, but luckily aspiring educators have a vast number of funding options available to reduce the financial burden of their education. After filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), education majors could qualify for a number of different grants or loans specifically related to their major. For instance, the TEACH Grant is available to provide $4,000 each year for students intending to teach in schools serving low-income families. Individuals who complete five years of full-time employment in a public or non-profit school system could also utilize the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program to pay off Federal Stafford or Direct loans.
If you’re still short on funds, you should look into different local and national scholarships offered to provide free money for college without repayment requirements.
Resource: Scholarship Listings by State
Enrolling in a work study program can also help you find part-time employment in your university’s day care center or tutoring services to pay tuition while gaining useful teaching experience. Graduate assistantships will provide extra tuition help for students willing to help professors conduct classes for undergraduate students. In many cases, school districts will offer tuition reimbursement programs to help their teachers afford the costs of going back for a master’s or doctoral degree in education too.
For more information about financing your four years, don’t miss our infographic that offers tips for saving money each year you’re enrolled in college:
There are quite a few scholarship opportunities available for education majors who know where to look to find them. Many local community foundations and rotary clubs will offer scholarships to aspiring teachers who will return home and teach in local school districts. Contact your state’s Board of Education to inquire about financial support offered in your area and enlist the help of your departmental academic advisor in finding special tuition waivers. At the national level, there are numerous scholarships targeting future teachers, including the:
• AFCEA Educational Foundation Scholarship – Each year, at least 50 education majors are chosen to receive $5,000 scholarships from the AFCEA Educational Foundation to cover the costs of their undergraduate or graduate degree in teaching STEM subjects.
• Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship – Through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program is funded by over $52 million to help K-12 teachers in STEM subjects afford education in exchange for teaching two years in high-need school districts.
• Phi Delta Kappa Prospective Educator Scholarships – PDK offers more than 30 endowed scholarships each year for $1,000 to future educators with good academic standing who are currently enrolled in an accredited undergraduate or graduate education program.
To learn about scholarships for specific education degrees, check out the following:
- Child Development Scholarships
- Early Childhood Education Scholarships
- Elementary Education Scholarships
- Graduate Education Scholarships
- Health Education Scholarships
- Math Education Scholarships
- Reading and Literacy Education Scholarships
- School Counseling Scholarships
- Science Education Scholarships
- Secondary Education Scholarships
- Special Education Scholarships
- Teaching English as a Second Language Scholarships
- Scholarships for Women
Career Paths in Education and Teaching
Earning an education degree can transform into a number of different career paths in preschool, elementary, middle, and high school systems. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual salary for teachers is $56,383, but wages can increase dramatically with added experience and education. Having a teaching degree is a great value for individuals seeking to become teachers, speech therapists, school psychologists, guidance counselors, principals, superintendents, coaches, school librarians, curriculum developers, professors, and educational researchers. Graduates in education will find the most abundant job opportunities teaching STEM subjects, working with students with disabilities, teaching English to speakers of other languages, and filling positions in high-needs schools in the South or West.