Educators are instructors and guides. Educators use their expert knowledge to teach information or skills to students. Educators include a wide variety of experts— from those who teach students how to drive to professionals who teach programs at community colleges and universities.
Many educators need a degree to qualify to teach. You may not need a degree if you’re teaching recreational community classes or giving students music lessons. Still, most instructors benefit from formal training to equip them with the skills needed to share information effectively. Although your specific degree path may vary based on who or what you plan to teach, reviewing standard degree options for teachers can help you identify which degree program is ideal for you.
Major in a subject area you plan to teach.
Whether you’re teaching kindergarten or high school students, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree. Anyone planning to teach middle school, high school, or postsecondary students should consider which subjects they want to teach and major in one of those subjects. For example, high schools are more likely to hire mathematics teachers who majored in mathematics. Specialized training ensures you have the knowledge needed to teach a specific subject comprehensively.
You may have more options when choosing your major if you plan to teach elementary school students. Unless you hope to teach a specific subject, such as art, physical education, or music, you may be eligible for admission to a master’s degree program in early childhood education or elementary education with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited institution. Some states require teachers to major in a specific subject area, such as English or Science.
Choose an undergraduate program in education.
Aspiring teachers can complete a bachelor’s degree and a student teaching program before obtaining their teacher certification. Others may opt to complete an undergraduate degree in education. Options include early childhood education, elementary education, and middle school education. These programs combine subject discipline studies with courses about how people learn. They also offer a hands-on learning experience through practicums.
Consider which age group you want to work with.
It’s possible to pursue a career as a preschool teacher with an associate’s degree and Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials. Individuals interested in working with preschool children can learn about the development of young children and how to prepare an appropriate curriculum for young children before entering their career field. Although an associate’s degree may be enough to enter this career field, employers may favor applicants with a bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of science (BS).
Aspiring teachers may opt to earn a master’s degree after they complete their undergraduate degree. Completing a master of education (M.Ed) degree is an effective way of increasing your career opportunities because individuals with a relevant master’s degree may become school counselors, principals, instructional coordinators, or postsecondary instructors.
After earning an undergraduate degree, aspiring teachers may pursue a graduate degree appropriate for the age group and type of students they plan to teach. Explore the – M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education Merrimack – to learn about Merrimack’s master’s degree program in early childhood education. This specific graduate program equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to instruct children in preschool, kindergarten, and grades one and two. Learners must earn 36 credits to graduate. Courses include teaching and learning in inclusive classrooms and curriculum, instruction, and assessment in early childhood in social studies and reading and language arts. Students must also complete a practicum to graduate.
Teachers who want to teach young children can also opt to earn a master’s in elementary education. Earning an M.Ed in middle school and high school education equips teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to teach students in grades six through 12.
Opt for degrees for teaching in specialized fields.
Aspiring teachers may also choose a degree path that focuses on specialized instructional fields. Those who want to work with foreign language students may opt to earn a degree to teach English as a second language (ESL). ESL teachers complete courses that focus on teaching English language students to read and write. They also learn how to assess ESL students and complete a practicum to gain hands-on experience before entering the workforce.
Teachers may also opt to earn an M.Ed in moderate disabilities. Teachers who focus on moderate disabilities may work with students with learning disabilities, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia.
There are multiple degree paths aspiring educators can consider. You may opt to pursue an undergraduate degree in education or may choose to major in a discipline you plan to teach before earning your master’s degree. You can also choose degree paths based on the age of the students you want to teach or focus on studies to work with students in specialized areas.