Building Your Career in Education

Graduates of online education degree programs enjoy a broad range of career options. You can specialize in a single subject, or become a generalist with skills across the disciplines.

The future is bright, too, for teachers at all levels. President Barack Obama has pledged to revitalize early childhood education and to “recruit, prepare, and retain” good teachers. The Administration plans to quadruple national funding for the Early Head Start program.

Getting into the Classroom

Some prospective teachers choose to work with young children, others hope to teach in college, and many dream of working with a school district, developing curriculum and fostering teacher excellence.

For those who enter the public school system, kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school teachers should be in especially high demand in rural districts and inner cities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Median 2007 annual earnings were $23,130 for preschool teachers, $43,030 for elementary teachers and $49,420 for secondary school teachers. You can take classes online to progress towards a bachelor’s degree–the typical educational minimum requirement, in addition to a post-graduate credential.

Another area that expects to see job growth is special education. The job outlook for special education teachers should be positive, with the BLS predicting a dire need to replace teachers heading for retirement. Districts may require a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in learning disabilities. The median 2007 wages for special education teachers were $48,350 at the elementary level, $49,640 in secondary education.

Beyond secondary schools, educators are needed to teach at community colleges, trade schools, and universities. The BLS predicts 382,000 new college teaching jobs during the 2006-2016 decade. Some community colleges and trade schools require teachers to hold a master’s degree, while most universities require a PhD.

Opportunities beyond the Classroom

If you’re already a teacher, you may want to pursue online post-graduate training in education to become an administrator. Principals and assistant principals should have favorable job prospects, the BLS reports. And districts where enrollments are growing rapidly–in the West and South–administrators should also be in demand.

Traditionally, you need at least a master’s degree for many of these jobs, while district administrators, college administrators, and deans are typically required to hold a PhD. The 2007 median wage was $80,580 for elementary and secondary school administrators. Top earners took home more than $117,740.  The college and post-secondary administrator’s median wage was $105,320, with top administrators earning $145,600.

You may also want to consider working in adult school or continuing education as a teacher or administrator. At the elementary or secondary school level, you may get your start working as a teacher’s assistant while training online for full certifications. Many people supplement their income by working as substitute teachers.

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