Online Education Degrees – Finding Your Path

Whether you’re interested in beginning a teaching career or in climbing the teaching career ladder, an online education degree can help you achieve your goal.

Teachers play important roles in every society, helping students of all ages learn, thrive, and succeed. Duties vary but all teachers instruct, prepare lessons and exams, evaluate student performances, and maintain order in the classroom.

Great teachers are always in demand, which makes a career in education one of the few that are recession proof. In other words, any time is the right time for you to pursue an online education degree.

If you’re already in the teaching profession, earning an advanced education degree can also increase your value as an employee and help you move up to a position with more responsibility and a higher salary.

What online education degrees are available?

Online education degrees are available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels. Special certificates and certifications are also available at some online schools. Many schools offer exclusively online programs while others require some on-campus time, so be sure to check programs carefully.

Within online education degree programs, you can pursue specialties including:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Special Education
  • K-12
  • Elementary Education
  • Secondary Education
  • Higher Education (Postsecondary)
  • Educational Administration
  • Adult Education/Adult Literacy
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Curriculum Design

There are also online education degree programs for teaching assistants, speech therapists, and other careers closely associated with educational settings.

Note that teaching in public schools usually requires a bachelor’s degree with state licensure, so be sure that the online program you’re interested in will prepare you for the position you will eventually seek. You can find Certification Requirements for 50 States at the website of the University of Kentucky College of Education.

Is an online education degree for me?

If you are already in the education profession and looking to move up the ladder, an online education degree is a great way for you to stay in the workforce and further your career at the same time.

Before enrolling in an online education degree program, be sure that it will actually advance your knowledge and marketability as an educator. Read course descriptions, look closely at materials, and talk to professors and former students to understand what you will learn and what will be expected of you throughout the online college program.

On the other hand, if you are not yet in the teaching profession but considering it as a new career, you should ask yourself a few questions before you commit to an online education degree program:

1. Are you teacher material?
Although different type of teachers require different skills and personalities, there are some qualities that every teacher must have. These include:

  • Patience
  • Desire to help others
  • Ability to communicate well
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Fairness
  • Good sense of humor

Online career aptitude tests can help you decide whether you have the necessary qualities to become a teacher. If you’re still wondering whether you’d do well as a teacher, why not try volunteering with children or simply as a teacher’s assistant to see whether you enjoy the classroom environment?
2. Can you afford a teaching career?

It may sound strange to ask yourself if you can afford to have a job, but one drawback of a teaching career can be the salary depending on location and specialization.

Remember, also, that you’ll most likely be working a lot of unpaid overtime hours preparing lesson plans, grading assignments and exams, and more. While some teachers consider paid summers off appropriate compensation for this work outside of the classroom, you’ll have to do your own financial calculations.

On the bright side, the average salary for public school teachers increased 4.5% in 2006-07 to $51,009.

Remember, also, that earning an online education degree will cost money, so be sure any student loans you may acquire are factored into your budget as well.

3. Are you ready to be a role model?
When you become a teacher, you must be ready to accept the responsibilities that come with the job-both inside and outside the classroom.

Communities and parents often expect teachers to be role models, which means that your choices and activities out of school, even those online may be scrutinized. For many people this is a small consideration, but it is certainly something you should be aware of before entering the teaching profession.

How can an online education degree benefit me?

Enrollment in online schools has been on the rise for years and online degrees are increasingly gaining respect in the workplace; these two factors together mean that now is the perfect time for you to pursue an online education degree and build your resume while continuing to work in your current position.

Some ways that an online education degree can benefit you and advance your career include:

Higher Salary
A college graduate will earn nearly $1 million more over a lifetime than a high school graduate. If you hold a master’s degree, you’re likely to earn another $400,000 more. A master’s degree in teaching, in particular, means the difference of $2,000 to $9,000 in starting salaries across the country.

Make no mistake: people with more education tend to have higher salaries. Investing in your education is Starting salary differences across the 50 states range from $2,000 to $9,000.

Deepen Your Knowledge
Perhaps throughout your career in education, you’ve been drawn to one particular area and would like to pursue it. An online education degree is a great way to delve into specialties such as English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching, special education, and curriculum design.

Move into Management

If you’re ready to move on from teaching into a more managerial position, an online education degree program that focuses on management and leadership can lead to administrative positions such as principals, assistant principals, deans, and other careers in educational administration.