Teachers make a difference in the lives of kids all over the world every day. However, the prospect of entering the teaching profession and remaining in it for the next 30 or more years can be a daunting one. Whether you’re worried about landing a job in a competitive market or about making enough money to support yourself once you’re hired, getting your master’s degree can offer a smart solution. Let’s count down four reasons why all teachers should consider graduate studies in education.
1. You’ll increase your earning potential.
While many teaching jobs require master’s degrees, others may call for just a bachelor’s degree. In this case, getting the bare minimum can hurt you in several different ways. Not only does it lower your chances of getting hired when you’re up again more qualified applicants, but it also means you’ll likely end up collecting a higher starting salary.
According to The Houston Chronicle, most school districts offer teachers with master’s degrees across the elementary, middle, and high school levels supplemental pay in the form of a “bonus” or “bump.” According to analysis by the Center for American Progress this averages between an extra $3,000 and $10,000 a year! And while the cost of getting a master’s degree can seem prohibitive, the degree can pay for itself in just a few years. Not only that, but most school districts require continuing education credits — doesn’t it make sense to put those credits toward a degree.
2. You’ll enjoy greater career mobility.
While a bachelor’s degree may qualify you to be a classroom teacher, many other school jobs require advanced credentials. If career advancement is important to you, a master’s degree is a must-have. Whether you’re looking to work as a school administrator, curriculum director, content/subject area specialist, or school counselor, you’ll likely need a master’s degree or more.
Additionally, a master’s degree can also open up new possibilities outside of the school system entirely. From textbook authors and community college teachers to educational consultants and educational researchers, these sought-after, well-paid professionals almost always have upper-level qualifications.
In addition to helping you move up the latter, a bachelor’s degree can lead to broader career prospects, which can be an effective defense against teacher burnout — a pervasive phenomenon among today’s hard-working teaching professionals.
3. You’ll be a better teacher.
A master’s degree isn’t merely a means to an end. Rather, it’s an opportunity for true growth and development. Your time in graduate school will benefit you in numerous ways, from understanding of your options as a teacher by exploring what truly interest you to acquiring tools which will enrich what you offer your students.
While your undergraduate degree might have bestowed knowledge in a certain field of study, a master’s in education places the focus on transitioning that and new knowledge to the classroom. Says Teach.com, “These degrees focus on teaching somebody how to be a teacher, with heavy emphasis on pedagogy, teaching methods, philosophy of education, and educational technology.”
According to one Reddit commenter, “It was a TON of work, and took a while, but it definitely made me a better teacher, both in increasing my knowledge and also making me more sympathetic to my students. Its interesting watching another person teach after you have been teaching all day, and seeing what you can do and what you shouldn’t do.”
One caveat worth keeping in mind? As with all advanced studies, you get out of a master’s degree what you put into it. On the flip side, however, if you’re pursuing your graduate coursework part-time while maintaining a teaching job, you’ll have immediate opportunities to start making change. Another Reddit poster shared, “I love teaching while going to school because I can implement strategies I learn in class the next day.”
4. You can make change at a higher level.
Teachers help nurture the growth and development of kids in classroom every day. If you’re interested in making change at a higher level, however, a master’s degree can help prepare you for a role in research, assessment or policy.
From regional school districts to local, state, and federal agencies, many organizations exist aimed at improving how teachers, schools and educational systems at large do what they do. They’re all looking for people with the knowledge, experience and insights to help guide them.
One of the most compelling reasons prompting people to enter the teaching profession is the chance to make a difference in society. A master’s degree will not only position you to achieve this goal, but it can also help you improve the quality of education at large while bettering your own life in the process.