Whether you currently work as a teacher or are researching what is needed to become one, you may ask yourself: What can I do with a master’s in education? This versatile degree, mandatory for certification in some states, can open doors to leadership opportunities or educational careers outside the classroom. In this article, we’ll look at just a few of the professional positions you will qualify for with a master’s degree in education.

Jobs You Can Get With A Master’s In Education

You will need an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution to enter the education field. Your bachelor’s degree may be in education, or it may be in a subject area. For example, if you intend to become a social studies teacher, you may major in history or political science.

Once you have that diploma in hand, however, what’s next? For many, the logical next step is further study at the master’s level. A master’s degree may qualify you for jobs ranging from corporate training to school counseling. You might remain in the classroom but could see a raise in your salary with a master’s degree. You will also be equipped to step into leadership positions, like district administrator.

Three of the most common positions for professionals with a master’s degree in education are school teacher, instructional coordinator, and school principal. Let’s take a look at each one to see what is involved.

School teacher

In many states, you can work as a teacher with only a bachelor’s degree. Some, such as Connecticut and New York, require a master’s degree to receive permanent certification. Even if your state does not require a master’s degree to be in the classroom, there are benefits to advanced education.

As a master’s-trained educator, you may be eligible for a higher pay grade or more frequent advancement. You are likely a stronger candidate for open jobs and can negotiate for a more beneficial situation and increased job security. You will also bring the benefits of your advanced training into the classroom, offering your students a more robust educational experience.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you specialize in kindergarten and elementary school work, you can expect a median pay of $61,350 annually. Four percent job growth is expected in this field over the next decade, so there should be a range of jobs from which to choose. Your work will be rewarding as you develop and share the curriculum with your young students in a classroom setting. Most elementary teachers, 86 percent, work in public school settings; the rest find positions in private schools. In addition to your time with your students, you will interact with parents, administrators, and vendors of educational materials to ensure a positive and productive learning environment.

If elementary school teaching is not your preference, perhaps you are hoping for a career in a middle school classroom. Middle school teachers make about the same median pay as elementary teachers, $61,320 a year, and are also facing growth in their field of about four percent. In public and private schools, middle school teachers work with young people in the sixth through eighth grades. Many states require middle school teachers to specialize in a content area such as math or biology. However, they may also need to study educational principles and spend time student teaching.

High school teachers work with young people between the ages of 14 and 18. They require a higher level of subject mastery from their teachers, who will plan and present lessons, enforce classroom standards, and work with individual students to improve their performance in the classroom. High school teachers make a median salary of $61,820. Many states have tenure rules that allow for more job security for teachers after a certain number of years. As is true of the other levels of teaching, high school teachers may work closely with parents, school administrators, and others to provide the best learning experience for their students. There is expected to be an increased need for five percent more high school teachers over the next decade, which works out to an additional 48,700 professionals.

Instructional coordinator

Instructional coordinators are in charge of school curriculums and standards. They develop teaching materials and are likely to be the ones who evaluate how well they work. They may work in elementary or secondary schools, colleges, or even in businesses that support education, such as textbook companies. About seven percent work for state or local governments. The median pay for an instructional coordinator is $63,740 a year. Unlike classroom teachers, who usually work for ten months of the year, instructional coordinators are active throughout the year and are not tied to a school’s schedule. They work closely with teachers and administrators to help them develop the best materials for students. Usually, even entry-level positions in this field require a master’s degree in education or curriculum and instruction. Some receive degrees in specialized areas such as science or history.

School principal

If your career goal is to end up in the principal’s office, consider choosing a master’s degree in education with a concentration in educational administration or leadership. This focus will help you gain the skills you need to effectively lead in a school setting.

Working as a school principal can be a satisfying and lucrative career. The median salary for principals at the elementary, middle, or high school levels is $98,420 a year. Unlike teachers, principals generally work throughout the year without taking summers off, and there may be times when they work more than 40 hours a week. There may be evening or weekend meetings with parents or community members, as well as special events such as concerts or sports events that they will be expected to attend.

In addition to working with and overseeing the teaching staff, principals also manage the school’s budget and, depending on the size of the school, may be responsible for counseling students, ensuring their security, and performing assessment duties. Depending on the state, principals may need specific licensing to become an administrator.

The job outlook for principals is positive, with five percent growth anticipated over the next decade, requiring 14,200 new principals to meet the needs of America’s schools.

Which Job Is Right For You?

With a master’s degree in education, these jobs and many others are within your reach. Which one is right for you? Only you can make that decision. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself when you are deciding:

  • What salary range am I comfortable with?
  • Am I passionate about being in the classroom or more comfortable in an office?
  • Do I want a job with significant vacation time, or am I happy to work through the year?
  • Is a specific field particularly appealing, such as social studies or math?
  • Do I love working with young children, or am I more comfortable with teens and older students?
  • Am I a natural leader, or do I prefer taking direction from others?

Answering these questions will help you make the right decision on your master’s in education and will allow you to gain a fulfilling career working with young people, both in the classroom and out.