If you’ve ever wanted a career where you can directly impact the mental, emotional and educational growth of future generations, a career in secondary education may be the perfect fit.
The first step to becoming a secondary school educator is to continue your education and obtain an advanced degree. Here’s what to know about varying degrees, what to expect to learn at each degree level, and what you are qualified for with each degree.
Associate’s Degree in Secondary Education
An associate’s degree in secondary education provides a base for future education opportunities and can open the door to non-teaching roles in secondary education. Students who have a high school diploma or GED may apply for an associate’s degree in secondary education program.
A full-time enrollment in an associate’s degree program, at a school such as a community college, means a degree can be completed in one to two years depending on class load and schedule.
An associate’s degree serves as the building block for a bachelor’s degree since the approximately 60 credit hours earned during an associate’s degree program are often directly transferable to the bachelor’s degree school.
Usually, the associate’s degree completes the first two years of a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree program. During the study period for an associate’s degree, you will learn general education topics in addition to secondary education topics. These general education classes may include:
- Social science
- Fine Arts
You may also take additional courses related to various teaching specializations. An associate’s degree in secondary education may qualify you for a secondary education position such as a tutor or a teacher’s aide.
Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education
A bachelor’s degree in secondary education is the lowest level required to become a secondary school teacher. If you have an associate’s degree in secondary education, your time frame for completing a bachelor’s degree in secondary education may be limited to two years if your credits apply and transfer.
To gain acceptance into a bachelor’s degree in secondary education program at a college or university, there are more requirements beyond being admitted to that college. Typically, students must also pass the Praxis CORE Academic Skills for Educators exam, or an equivalent state exam, which includes testing on reading, writing and math. Other requirements to a bachelor’s degree in secondary education program may include:
- Letters of reference
- Prerequisite GPA
- Specific course completion
- Clear background check
Once accepted, you’ll take up to 120 credit hours of courses covering classroom management, adolescent development or psychology, and secondary teaching methods. These will be in addition to general education courses, as well as courses related to the subject you plan on specializing in.
A semester of student teaching is also a requirement for the bachelor’s degree in secondary education. To successfully gain access to a job in the classroom as a secondary school teacher, in addition to a completed bachelor’s degree, obtaining a teaching certificate or credential is required.
Master’s Degree in Secondary Education
A master’s degree in secondary education is for students who want a competitive edge over other secondary school teacher applicants, or for those who aspire to have career options in secondary education beyond the classroom.
Teachers with master’s degrees typically earn more than those with lesser educations, they’re more able to apply for and gain positions at institutions of their choice, and have increased odds of upward mobility in their careers.
Obtaining a master’s degree in secondary education does not require that you have a teaching background, although that can be very helpful when competing against applicants in a specific program.
At a minimum, a master’s degree in secondary education applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree and a GRE score within the past three to five years. Some programs may also require:
- A valid teaching license or credential
- Passing scores on basic and specialized PRAXIS exams
- Clear background check
- Professional experience in the subject you wish to teach
Students who are enrolled in full-time master’s degree in secondary education programs can typically complete the program within two years to three years. To obtain teaching certification, 190 cumulative hours of approved and documented field experiences in classrooms of certified teachers must be completed before student teaching.
For those who pursue their master’s degree in secondary education, they can expect lifetime earnings to greatly increase versus those who have only bachelor’s degrees. It’s promising for career and financial security, the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the job outlook through 2026 for high school teachers is growing at 8 percent, with more than 1 million jobs available in 2016. The median annual salary for high school teachers was $59,170 in May 2017, but employees with master’s degrees and higher have the potential to earn much more or even enter other career paths, such as those in secondary education administration.
Beyond better pay, a master’s degree in secondary education allows for more career opportunities beyond secondary schools. Roles you may qualify for with a master’s in secondary education include:
- Curriculum developers for schools or textbooks
- Corporate trainers and developers
- Teachers in college
- Content writers
- Education consultants
- Principals and educational leaders
- Educational policy developers
- Media and technology specialists
- Child care directors
- Coach or personal development consultants
If you have a love for teaching or helping others learn, obtaining a master’s degree in secondary education can open limitless career potential for you. It gives you a better chance to teach the subject you want at the school you want, and it allows you to advance at your institution or work beyond it so you achieve the career growth you desire.
To learn more about the online Master of Science in Secondary Education and Accelerated Teaching Certification program from Saint Joseph’s University and what it can do for your career, call (866) 758-7670 or request more information.