PHD IN EDUCATION

Most large research universities have a faculty of education, which is distinct from other faculties, such as the faculty of arts and sciences or school of business.

Faculties of education typically offer several degrees:

  • Bachelor’s of education,
  • Master of education
  • Master of arts in education
  • Master of arts in teaching
  • Doctorate of education
  • Doctorate of philosophy in education.

While doctoral students pursuing a doctorate of education and doctorate of philosophy in education may occasionally share common research interests, and even take the same courses, these are considered separate degrees, and they are designed to achieve different long-term goals.

While the doctorate of education is a degree designed for people who wish to assume leadership positions in the school system — principal or superintendent positions — the doctorate of philosophy in education is designed for people who wish to carry out educational research and teach at the university level.

Degree Requirements for a PhD in Education

Like other doctorate of philosophy degrees, most doctoral programs in education expect incoming students to have already completed a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in the field with a high academic standing, and they must maintain relatively high GRE scores (average GRE scores for incoming PhD students are often in the 80 percentile in the verbal category, and 63 percentile in the quantitative category.

Other factors are also extremely important in the education field, such as teaching experience or demonstrated experience carrying out research in an educational setting. With few exceptions, by the doctoral level, entering students already have some background in educational research. Once students arrive, they must complete required graduate level coursework in education, study and successfully write and defend one or more field exams (these exams focus on a candidate’s chosen areas of specialization within the broader education field), and write and defend a dissertation that contributes original research to the education field.

Areas of Specialization

The American Educational Research Association, the largest academic society in the education field, lists twelve areas that represent the major scholarly and scientific areas where educational research takes place.

These areas include the following:

  1. Administration and leadership
  2. Curriculum studies
  3. Learning and instruction
  4. Measurement
  5. Counseling and human development
  6. History
  7. Social context of education
  8. Research, assessment and evaluation
  9. Education in the professions
  10. Postsecondary education
  11. Teaching and teacher education
  12. Politics and educational policy

Within each of these twelve subfields, there are many other areas of specialization. For example, researchers engaged in the very broad field concerned with social context, may be engaged in research on bilingual education or on sex education, or on impact of poverty and school achievement or graduate rates.

Other researchers in this field may be engaged in research outside the US that seeks to examine how students in information-poor countries are beginning to use mobile devices, because of the lack of books and libraries.

Similarly, educational researchers engaged in work on research, assessment, and evaluation may be engaged in quantitative studies that seek to find new and more accurate ways to test students, or in studies that seek to critique the growing focus on standardized testing in American schools.

Since education is a highly interdisciplinary field, educational researchers include, researchers whose background and/or training may be in fields as diverse as statistics, anthropology, economics, and philosophy. In short, while they share a general interest in education, they may, or may not share a common methodological approach.

Career Outlook for a PhD in Education

PhDs in Education typically lead to full-time faculty appointments; either in Education, and in some cases, an allied field — a candidate who specializes in the sociology of education may end up working in a sociology department, and a candidate who specializes in art education may end up working at an art college. Some PhDs in Education obtain work with government or non-governmental organizations where educational researchers are in demand, such as the US Department of Education, The College Board or Common Core Standards Initiative, or they work in a university-based research center focused on educational research. Finally, some PhDs in Education go on to work in other fields, such as educational publishing.

How to Become a Creative Writing Teacher

Making a living as a writer can be difficult. If you write film scripts or novels, you may be able to making a living from writing alone, but if you’re a poet (even a very successful one), you will likely also need to do something else on the side. For a variety of reasons, teaching is an obvious choice. While some writers seek full-time positions at a high school, college or university, others focus on teaching in “low-residency” programs where students either work on line or in short spurts (e.g., they meet for just 5 to 10 days in an intensive workshop on campus). So how to become a creative writing teacher, especially in an institution where one will still have ample time to write? Given the fact that so many people who are writers need to supplement their incomes, finding and keeping a creative writing position that pays well can be difficult. Keep reading to find out how to become a creative teaching at the K-12 or postsecondary level and where you can expect to find the very best jobs.

How Can I become a Creative Writing Teacher at the K-12 Level

In K-12 education, you’ll likely only find creative writing positions at the high school level and even at the high school level, you will likely only be able to teach one or two creative writing courses per year. This means that anyone pursing this option, will also need to be qualified to teach other subjects. In most cases, people hired to teach creative writing at the high school level are in fact qualified English teachers. To become a high school English teacher:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree, such as a Bachelor of Arts degree in English or a similar degree, such as Rhetoric or Creative Writing.
  • Complete a teacher education program (e.g. a program leading to a B.Ed or M.A.T. or any other degree attached to teacher licensure).
  • Pass applicable examinations for your state (e.g., the Praxis series of exams).
  • Become licensed and certified in the state in which you intend to teach.

While it won’t hurt to have a record of publication, at the high school level, an English degree and education degree are more important than your track record of publication. That said, if you have any additional skills (e.g., experience editing literary journals), be certain to highlight these experiences when on the job market.

How can I become a College or University Creative Writing professor?

MFAIn the past, many famous creative writing professors had no university degree at all.  Since the 1970s, MFA programs have flourished. Today, the MFA (master of fine arts) in creative writing is usually the minimum requirement. In some cases, a PhD is also desired or required. In addition, relevant teaching experience and a track record of publication is required. Unlike other academic jobs, in most cases, even entry-level full-time creative writing positions require one to have already published at least one book with a recognized press. The idea is that you are being hired as an already established writer and will continue to grow on the job. It also helps to engage in other professional activities. Presenting at conferences, especially at the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs), is highly advised. Finally, a high percentage of positions advertised want to hire someone who can teach more than one genre (e.g., fiction and poetry or poetry and translation or scrip writing and fiction). In addition, experience editing literary journals or other relevant industry experience (e.g., working in publishing or as a journalist) will definitely help. In short, the more publications, relevant degrees, and genres, the more likely you will be to find and keep a desirable creative writing position.

What is the job outlook for Creative Writing teachers?

Anyone who is a qualified English teacher who can also teach creative writing can expect to find work in most states at the secondary level. After all, English is a core subject and there is always a demand for English teachers. If you can teach core English at the high school level, as well as an AP in creative writing, and perhaps, also serve as the teacher coordinator for the school’s literary journal, you’ll be considered a strong candidate.  At the postsecondary level, the market for creative writing jobs is very competitive. There are far more MFAs on the job market than there are jobs. For every job posted, hundreds of applications are received and hiring can boil down to subjective factors or departmental needs. Again, while publications were once the only or primary hiring criteria, over time, this has changed. Today, an MFA is usually the minimum criteria but a growing number of programs are now posting creative writing positions with the hopes of hiring someone with a PhD. The bottomline is that the more you can offer (MFA, PhD, national or international reputation and track record of publications and awards), the more likely you are to get hired.

What is the compensation for Creative Writing teachers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), high school English teachers (including Creative Writing teachers) can expect to make about $56,000 annually. At the postsecondary level, full-time creative writing teachers report incomes just under $70,000. But here is the problem. Most creative writing teachers at the postsecondary level do not work on a full-time basis. Many make just $3000 per course and cobble together jobs at two or more institutions on semester-long contracts. If you want to make a living as a creative writing teacher at the postsecondary level, you’ll need the right combination of degrees, experience, connections and publications.

So how to become a creative writing teacher? While some things that are required (e.g., a terminal degree, such as an MFA) and desired (e.g., multiple publications and the ability to teach in more than one genre), there is no single winning formula.  If you want a job in a creative writing department at the college or university level, it ultimately also helps to know people working in these departments who are in the position to carry out hires. In short, with so much competition, everything and everyone you meet counts.

2017 Education Predictions

There is no way to know for certain what the year ahead will bring, but as 2016 winds down, Tobecomeateacher.org has reached out to colleagues and compiled a list of 2017 education predictions. From the likely boost for charter schools to the rise of virtual high schools to calls for “sanctuary campuses,” 2017 promises to bring new policies, innovations and challenges to educators across the United States. In fact, our 2017 education predictions suggest that over the coming year, uncertainty and debate will prevail on many fronts at both the K-12 and postsecondary levels.

2017 Education Predictions for K-12

Charter Schools will Get a Boost

2017 education predictionsWith Betsy DeVos’s appointment as Secretary of Education, it seems likely that charter schools will get a huge boost. Indeed, this may be the most certain 2017 education prediction. In Michigan, DeVos has long supported a move to charter schooling–a system where public education funding is essentially redistributed to schools with increased freedom to operate at arms-length from state departments of education. This is also why charter schools remain controversial. Charter schools are given latitude to shape everything from hiring criteria to the curriculum. As a result, they are especially popular with families who wish to access a religious education without paying private school fees. DeVos’s push for charter schools in Michigan was successful, but can she replicate this nationwide? It seems likely that her mandate will anger many public educators, but given that education is dictated by state mandates, we also predict that it is highly unlikely that a voucher-based system will take hold nationwide any time soon.

Teachers’ Wages will Continue to Lag Behind

In a high percentage of U.S. states, average teacher salaries do not meet or just meet the estimated living wage for a family of four. A likely 2017 education prediction is that this low-wage trend will continue. Teachers’ wages continue to drop compared to people in comparable positions. Under the new administration, there is no indication that teachers’ salaries will be a priority.  Of course, teachers’ salaries are primarily a state and local issue not federal issue. As a result, it seems likely that in states where teachers already make the most (e.g,. New York, California, Connecticut and Massachusetts), they will continue to be well compensated. In states where teachers’ wages lag behind, the situation will hold. However, there are also concerns that teachers’ unions will face growing opposition and may even lose some of their bargaining power under the incoming administration. If this happen, at least some American teachers may find themselves in an even more dire situation. Also, since nearly all American teachers make well below Trump’s proposed new middle and high income tax brackets, which will see the highest tax cuts, few American teachers will benefit from the significant tax breaks about to be rolled out.

Virtual High Schools will Gain Ground

2017 education predictionsWhile homeschooling has been gaining ground across the United States in recent years, not all parents are up to becoming full-time teachers. As parents look for reputable yet affordable alternatives to homeschooling , virtual high schools continue to gain popularity. For some time, the idea of doing an online college or university degree has been gaining acceptance, and there are now many viable and even reputable options available to students across fields. Moving into 2017, we predict that the interest in virtual high schools will grow too. Although still not for every kid or parent, some online options, like the Stanford Online High School, offer the best of both worlds.  Embracing a blended learning model, Stanford’s online option brings students together for meet ups, field trips and graduation and even has clubs and a form of student governance, but the high school otherwise takes place online.

Augmented Reality will Dominate Ed Tech

Augmented reality (AR) has been around for some time now but until recently, it remained somewhat unknown. The concept is usually used to describe computer technologies that add an additional layer of information or experience over a user’s lived experience. Rather than lose oneself in a virtual world, augmented reality is about integration. It brings the digital world to the material world. While museum educators have been embracing AR for some time, in 2017, its seems likely that AR will gain ground across the education system. This is largely due to the growing available of free AR apps targeting K-12 educators and growing awareness among educators of AR’s wide-reaching potential.

Common Core will Continue to be Debated

While Trump has said, on more than one occasion, that Common Core has to go, in reality, Common Core standards are not a federal issue. Although designed to create common standards nationwide, they were developed and adopted on the state level.  In fact, the U.S. Department of Education has no authority to dictate what happens to Common Core.  Among our 2017 education predictions, however, is the near certainly that Common Core’s structure, value and impact will continue to be debated among parents, students and teachers.

2017 Education Predictions for Higher Education

Rise of the “Sanctuary Campus”

Within days of the Trump’s election, universities across the United States were declaring their status as “sanctuary campuses.” The move came quickly as undocumented students and their allies on campus pushed for their administrations to commit to protecting anyone who might be at risk as the new administration takes power.  Xavier Maciel, an undergraduate at Pomona College, even created a list of campuses that have declared themselves to be “sanctuary campuses” or are petitioning to do so.  The problem , however, is that legal experts suggest colleges and universities have no real legal basis upon which to declare themselves sanctuaries. Worse yet, by doing so, they may mislead students into thinking they do have some legal protection while enrolled. Princeton University president, Christopher Eisgruber, for example, issued a statement of support for DACA but also declined calls to become a “sanctuary campus.” In late November, he wrote, “Immigration lawyers with whom we have consulted have told us that this concept has no basis in law, and that colleges and universities have no authority to exempt any part of their campuses from the nation’s immigration laws.”  Among our 2017 education predictions for higher education is that the debate over how best to support undocumented students will continue over the coming year.

Bernie Sanders’ Supporters Won’t Disappear 

bernie_sanders_supporters4-620x412In 2016, they came, they listened, they worshipped and they wept. College and university students loved Bernie Sanders’ message. But why not? Sanders, who once cut his own folk album and later helped to create the most popular punk venue in the Northeast, delivered a powerful message about education throughout the 2016 election cycle.  Postsecondary education should be free for all, and students should not graduate in debt. In 2017, Sanders’ young supporters will mature and form several new coalitions focused on promoting accessible higher education. While they will no doubt have a long and hard road ahead of them with the current administration, there is no question that Sanders’ supporters and the message he conveyed will continue to make news.

More Campus and School Shootings

According to Everytown, a gun safety advocacy and research group, in 2016, there were more than 35 school and campus shootings nationwide. The shootings took place in middle schools and high schools and on college and university campuses across the nation. Some of the shootings resulted injury and some in death. Of course, 2016 was not an exception. In recent years, school and campus gun violence has been on the rise and for this reason, sadly, our 2017 education predictions include a grim prediction that more shootings in schools and on campus are inevitable. This will no doubt also keep the lively debate over campus carry alive.

Percent of Part-time Faculty will Rise

Few of our 2017 education predictions bring good news, and this also holds true for our predictions on postsecondary hiring. In 2016, the New Faculty Majority reported that over 75% of postsecondary faculty now work on a part-time basis. With soft hiring across fields and levels nationwide and few wide-scale hiring drives on a global level (China may be a notable exception), in 2017, we can expect to see more part-time faculty. There are several reasons for this continued trend. First, most colleges and universities have grown so accustomed to relying on contingent faculty, the norm is already firmly entrenched. Second, with the arrival of new administration in Washington, it seems unlikely that many U.S. colleges and universities will be opening up new hiring lines in 2017. Indeed, they will likely want to wait and see how the new government impacts the economy and higher education before investing in long-term hiring lines.

Humanities PhDs will Decline

libraryAmong our 2017 education predictions is the continued decline in PhD enrollments in the humanities. The trend started a few years back. In 2015, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that in 2013 to 2014, PhD enrollments fell by 0.5% and between 2009 and 2014, enrollments fell 1% a year. By contrast, enrollments in doctoral programs across fields rose by 1.2% during the same period.  In 2017, there is a high likelihood that enrollments in PhD humanities programs will continue to decline. This reflects several factors, including the growing reluctance of universities to train high numbers of humanities scholars in what remains a dismal job market.

Contributor: Cait Etherington, Dec. 24, 2016

 

Professor Salaries: The Truth

collegeIf you ever thought the life of a college or university professor sounds pretty sweet, you’re not alone. From the outside, these educators may appear to have it all: lots of authority, only a few hours of work per week, summers off, and one assumes, high compensation.  While it is true that some professors do only teach a few hours per week, most spend the rest of the time, even summers, engaged in research. It is also the case that professor salaries are on average shockingly low. The truth is that professor salaries are in many cases on par with or even lower than the salaries of America’s lowest paid workers–namely, workers in the service industry. That’s right–you may make more working full time at a Subway or Chipotle than you do teaching Renaissance literature or algebra on a college or university campus.

Professor Salaries: Often Below Poverty Line

First, it is important to note that there are several different types of professors. In the past, most professors  were employed on a full-time basis in what are readily called “tenure track” hiring lines. These professors were generally hired on multi-year contracts from the onset and after a grueling seven-year period of proving their worthiness, they were given tenure (basically, a job for life) and a promotion. On average, these tenured professors made a lot more than their peers working in the K-12 system but less than many other highly trained professionals (e.g., doctors or lawyers). All and all, it was a decent way to make a living, but today, tenure-track hiring lines are in decline.

Since the early 2000s, the number of adjunct professors and limited-term appointments in higher education has skyrocketed. Indeed, according to the New Faculty Majority–an advocacy group for part-time college and university professors–a staggering 75% of postsecondary teaching is now carried out by faculty working part-time and in some cases on limited-term appointments. What’s the difference? A professor on a limited-term appointment generally still has a full-time position with a full course load (albeit often a higher course load than a tenured professor), but they have no presumption of being rehired. The positions are usually only 9-months long and at many colleges and universities, these positions cannot be renewed. But the situation gets much worse.

Today, most postsecondary level teaching is done by part-time faculty or “adjuncts.” A 2015 article in The Atlantic, crunched the numbers this way: “Adjunct professors earned a median of $2,000 per semester-long class during the 2012-13 academic year, according to an AAUP survey of thousands of part-time faculty members. While varying classloads make it difficult to calculate the typical adjunct’s annual earnings, NPR reported in 2013 that the average yearly pay for adjuncts was between $20,000 and $25,000, and a March 2015 survey conducted by Pacific Standard among nearly 500 adjuncts found that a majority earn less than $20,000 a year from teaching.” (1)

To put part-time professor salaries into perspective consider these facts:

  • According to The Harvard Crimson, in 2012, the average tenured full professor at Harvard made $198,400.
  • In order for an average adjunct professor to make as much as an average full professor at Harvard, they would have to teach at least 99 courses per year, but this would be impossible to schedule. On average, tenured full professors at Harvard (and most tenured full professors nationwide) teach no more than four courses per year. But let’s set Harvard’s exceptional conditions aside…
  • Even when compared to an average professor (e.g., an untenured assistant professor working at the private four-year college), adjuncts struggle to keep up. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the average assistant professor salary in the private system was $44,764 in 2014-2015; an adjunct professor would still need to teach over 20 courses per year to keep up with this already low full-time average salary.
  • Finally, it is important to note that like full-time faculty, part-time faculty do report a range of salaries. While some adjuncts are paid over $7,500 per course (usually at private colleges and universities, such as Columbia and NYU), many others report making even less than $2000 per course. (1)

For more information on professor salaries national wide, visit the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Chronicle Data site.

Demographic Profile of Adjunct Faculty

Adjunct faculty are represented across age and gender groups and work in many different types of institutions. 29% are under 40, 33% between 40 and 54, 25% are between 55 and 64, and 13% above 65. Women are slightly more likely than men (52%) to occupy an adjunct faculty position. According to a recent 2015 TIAA-CREF survey, PhDs in the humanities and social sciences also do struggle more than their colleagues in STEM fields (65% of adjunct faculty report teaching in the liberal arts). (2) However, the reliance on poorly paid part-time or contingent faculty is a problem across fields. Computer science, biology and mathematics also report high numbers of adjunct professors, and they typically report wages just as low as faculty in the humanities and social sciences. (3)

Older Adjuncts Can’t Afford to Retire 

Octlghjilmue-jake-barfordne of the saddest truths about professor salaries is that many of these part-time faculty will never be able to retire. Indeed, as suggested above, many adjuncts (13%) are already over 65 and in the coming years, this number is expected to rise. Why? The reason is simple. With low incomes and high student debt loads, most adjuncts already live in poverty or close to the poverty line and have difficulty ever paying back their student loans. Since they have low wages, high debt loads, no guaranteed work, and often no or sub-par benefits, saving for retirement is impossible. Simply put, retiring just isn’t an option for the vast majority of part-time college and university professors. TIAA-CREF’s recent study on adjunct’s and retirement found that 36% of part-time faculty under 40 are not confident they will be able to retire and across age groups, 37% of liberal arts adjuncts are not confident they will be able to retire. (4)

If you think the situation isn’t dire, consider the case of Mary Votjko. In 2013, Professor Vojtko, a French professor, died under the deplorably sad circumstances. She was in her early 80s, fighting cancer, and still teaching but like many older adjuncts, her institution wanted her out and in the process, they reduced her course load to 1 course per semester. When she died, Daniel M. Kovalik, also an adjunct professor, published the following account in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

On Sept. 1, Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor who had taught French at Duquesne University for 25 years, passed away at the age of 83. She died as the result of a massive heart attack she suffered two weeks before. As it turned out, I may have been the last person she talked to. On Aug. 16, I received a call from a very upset Margaret Mary. She told me that she was under an incredible amount of stress. She was receiving radiation therapy for the cancer that had just returned to her, she was living nearly homeless because she could not afford the upkeep on her home, which was literally falling in on itself, and now, she explained, she had received another indignity — a letter from Adult Protective Services telling her that someone had referred her case to them saying that she needed assistance in taking care of herself. The letter said that if she did not meet with the caseworker the following Monday, her case would be turned over to Orphans’ Court. For a proud professional like Margaret Mary, this was the last straw; she was mortified. She begged me to call Adult Protective Services and tell them to leave her alone, that she could take care of herself and did not need their help. I agreed to. Sadly, a couple of hours later, she was found on her front lawn, unconscious from a heart attack. She never regained consciousness. (5)

While Professor Vojtko’s case may sound exceptional, sadly, too many older part-time scholars now risk finding themselves in her position.

Unionized Faculty Still Struggle

Unions help but they are not the only answer. Adjuncts working in unionized institutions also continue to struggle.  To illustrate, consider the situation in New York City. While faculty are both NYU and the City University of New York (CUNY) are both unionized, CUNY adjuncts make about half of what NYU adjuncts make per course. The difference largely reflects the vast differences between the public and private systems in the region. In some regions, unionized faculty at public universities do make more, have better benefits and more job security than their counterparts at non-unionized private institutions (e.g., this is the case in many regions of California). The bottom line is that unions support educators and are committed to raising part-time professor salaries, but with the bar so low, bringing part-time faculty up to a living wage may take a very long time in both the public and private systems. Read on for more information on why it is important to support teacher’s unions.

What Students and Parents Can Do

If you’re a student, be aware of the fact that your professors–the people who generously share their knowledge, grade your papers, write your reference letters and respond to your emergency emails at midnight–may very well be making only $2000 to $7000 to teach your course. Better yet, educate yourself! Find out what professor salaries are at your college or university. If part-time faculty are being screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-10-04-13-pmexploited, find ways to support them and of course, respect their time and appreciate the knowledge they share with you in the classroom throughout the semester.

If you’re a parent, you can do even more. Before enrolling your child in college or university, find out how many of the institution’s faculty members are employed in part-time versus tenure-track and tenured positions. Investigate professor salaries at the college or university. If the college or university has a high percentage of adjuncts teaching courses for only $2000 to $3000 per course, think again. After all, if you’re paying over $6000 per course and over $50,000 annually in tuition, where exactly are your tuition dollars going? Evidently, they are not going to support part-time professor salaries. Finally, be proactive–give a small donation, even just a few dollars, to the New Faculty Majority–one of the only organizations committed to giving a voice to adjunct faculty and fighting for their right to make a living wage. If you already have a child attending a college or university with exploitative labor practices, when your child’s college or university comes knocking on your door for a donation, let them know that you don’t support their treatment of adjuncts and can’t donate or only wish to donate if you can be assured the money will support efforts to increase part-time professor salaries.

(1) Chronicle Data, https://data.chronicle.com/category/ccbasic/13/faculty-salaries/

(2) Faculty Career and Retirement Survey, TIAA-CREF Institute (2014).

(3) Chronicle Data, https://data.chronicle.com/category/ccbasic/13/faculty-salaries/

(4) Faculty Career and Retirement Survey, TIAA-CREF Institute (2014).

(5) Daniel Kovalik, “Death of an adjunct Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor of French for 25 years, died underpaid and underappreciated at age 83,”  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (September 18, 2013).

INCLUSION FOR ALL: TEACHING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

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ABOUT US

It’s often suggested that the most underappreciated vocation on the planet is the teaching profession. However, when an individual is looking to take on this career choice, they shouldn’t have to circumnavigate millions of pages of online data to retain the complete information they require in order to formulate a strong plan to achieve their goals. This is the primary reason why we have launched tobecomeateacher.org – to offer would be educators an easy to navigate online platform that will help them learn more about specific teaching careers, along with arming them with the proper tools and tips to achieve their goal of becoming an educator.  To learn more about us explore are links current news items, schools, and licensing.

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Tobecomeateacher.org was built by a collaborative team of educational and career experts, including teachers, professors and educational researchers, who focus their efforts on providing students of all levels with factual resources that will help them navigate the educational and career hurdles required to achieve their professional goals. This website was developed with the future and existing teacher in mind – to be a hub of educational and career tips and advice from fellow teachers and career guidance experts who have traveled on this journey themselves.

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Making a Living as a Teacher – the Good the Bad and the Ugly

Teaching is one of the world’s most rewarding professions. It’s a way to impart knowledge and foster the success of the next generation. At its best, teaching is an intellectually stimulating profession and an integral part of the “affective economy.” In other words, it’s about ideas, knowledge and caring.

Whether you choose to pursue teaching as a career, however, depends a great deal on your priorities and aptitudes.  After all, few teaching jobs will make you rich.  If joining the 1% is your goal, then, teaching may not be the best option. Moreover, teaching, regardless of the subject matter, is a social profession—you need to have excellent interpersonal skills and a high degree of patience and empathy. If you’re frustrated by people who don’t appear share your opinions, competencies or personal drive, teaching may not be an ideal career path.  For many people, however, teaching is a first not second career option.

Compensation

At its best, a teaching career—for example, if you are a tenured full professor at Harvard, Princeton or Columbia—will bring in an annual income in excessive of $200,000 and carry generous benefits and ample vacation time. But this is by no means the norm. Most full professors make between $90,000 and $150,000 per year, and only achieve this compensation later in their careers. However, most college and university teaching is now carried out by part-time professors who often teach throughout the year, struggle to make even $30,000 annually from a variety of jobs and usually have no health benefits or retirement contributions from their employers.

Preschool, elementary, middle and high school teachers also report a wide range of salaries and working conditions. In some districts, teachers with seniority and additional qualifications (e.g., a graduate degree) make over $85,000 annually. Most elementary, middle and high school teachers report annual income in the $50,000 to $60,000.  In either case, they typically enjoy health benefits and employer retirement contributions. By contrast, many teaching assistants and preschool teachers make far less than the average American, typically declaring between $20,000 and $30,000 per year.

Whether one teaches at the university level or preschool level, however, there is little doubt that becoming a member of the million-dollar club likely will not happen on one’s teaching income alone. At its best, a teaching career can represent a very well compensation position. At its worse, teaching can put one on par with fast food workers.

Health and Retirement Benefits

Most full-time teachers, with the exception of preschool teachers, have some form of health benefits and receive employer contributions to their retirement funds. This holds true for college and university professors and most teachers with full-time jobs in the public school system. Private school teachers may or may not enjoy benefits. Preschool teachers are also less likely to receive benefits are part of their job. Most teaching assistants and supply teachers do not receive benefits of any kind, particularly not if they are employed on a part-time basis.

Current Job Prospects and Projected Growth

Depending on the level and subject, teaching may or may not be a safe career choice to pursue at this time. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 19% growth rate in postsecondary teachers over the next decade, there is already a surplus of qualified college and university level teachers, particularly in the arts and humanities. Indeed, in some disciplines, such as English, less than half of graduating PhDs are expected to ever obtain full-time teaching appointments at the university level. By contrast, jobs for elementary, middle and high school teachers are somewhat more plentiful and have a projected growth rate that mirrors the national average of 12% over the coming decade.  However, once again, in some metropolitan areas, such as New York City, the surplus of qualified teachers means that certified teachers, even with master’s degrees, often work on a part-time basis or as teaching assistants for many years before finding permanent jobs. As a rule, at both the secondary and postsecondary levels, qualified candidates who are willing to relocate to less desirable locations outside major urban centers (e.g., Anchorage or Omaha), may be more likely to obtain permanent jobs immediately following graduation.

Quality of Life

Measuring one’s quality of life is never a simple task but may consider things such as leisure time, commute time to work, home ownership and the ability to make long term plans (e.g., about retirement). Once again, depending on what type of teaching work one ultimately obtains, one’s quality of life may vary considerably.

If one can find a full-time permanent job, teaching can prove to be one of the most secure jobs available on today’s job market. Once college and university professors receive tenure, they are nearly impossible to fire, even when their behavior suggests this may be necessary. School teachers with many years of seniority often enjoy just as much job security as college and university professors. Until recently, New York City maintained an infamous “rubber room” for teachers who were deemed unfit for the classroom but who had too much seniority to be easily taken off the payroll. But for all the stories about bad teachers with “jobs for life,” in today’s economy, there are also a growing number of great teachers will little or no job security. And whether one owns their own home (or has the potential to eventually do so at some point) or enjoys ample leisure time is typically contingent on whether or not one holds a permanent full-time and temporary or part-time teaching position.

So does teaching offer a high quality of life? At its best, a career in teaching offers a high-level of job security, a decent income, robust benefits and of course, generous vacation time (in some cases, even eligibility to apply for paid leaves).

The Long and Short of Becoming a Teacher In The U.S.

Equipped with the ability to foster mental and educational growth, from the kindergartener learning phonetics to adults enrolled in a literacy program, teachers are trained to make a difference in the lives of the students they educate. With performance incentives, decent benefits, and the ability to easily advance, the teaching profession provides a stable career option within the education field. In order to obtain a job within a school system, individuals must earn a bachelor’s degree, and become licensed or certified to become employed at a public school.

What is a Teacher?

A teacher is a professional responsible for the education and instruction of others, who often concentrates on teaching a specific grade level or subject. During their education, prospective teachers may gravitate towards earning a specific degree, such as a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Development (to teach on the preschool and elementary school level) or combining years of experience with education to pursue employment at a trade- or technical school. Specialized training or skills also prepare teachers to address the specific needs of students, such as English as a Second Language (ESL) learners or those in a special education program.

Overall, teachers are generally trained to:

  • Create a classroom environment to meet the needs of students
  • Address students as a group and as individuals
  • Organize and execute lesson plans
  • Create, administer and grade tests/quizzes, homework and assignments
  • Evaluate student performance, assess a student’s potential, and prepare report cards
  • Maintain classroom safety and address discipline issuesƒ
  • Provide additional assistance and guidance when students need help

The primary responsibilities and duties of a teacher also depends on the grade level and subject being taught, as seen in the 3rd grade English teacher in charge of evaluating a student’s ability to read and then addressing any underlying literacy issues.

Teachers of students on the pre-K through 12th grade level must maintain communication with administration and parents regarding the expectations and growth of their students, such as scheduling parent-teacher conferences. Teachers are also expected to respond and encourage open communication with their student’s parents/guardians. In addition to phoning parents and sending emails, technology also provides online resources (like teacher-maintained webpages) that provide information regarding individual progress, homework, and classroom behavior.

Educators are also observers of their classroom and the students they teach, and are expected to report suspicions of drug and alcohol issues, parental abuse, childhood bullying, and depression.

Getting Education

A bachelor’s degree is the entry-level educational requirement for educators responsible for teaching students in kindergarten to the 12th grade. Preschool (or pre-kindergarten) teachers require the least amount of education, with applicants qualifying for a position after obtaining a two-year degree in Early Childhood Education. The various levels of teaching credentials that an educator may obtain depends on a range of factors, such as state mandates, years of experience, the grade level of students, and school subject.

Step by Step Educational Path of a Teacher

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree. An undergraduate degree is the minimum education that a K-12 teacher must possess with many states implementing various stipulations according to the grade and subject being taught. For example, many elementary school teachers must minor or major in education, while aspiring secondary school teachers also pursue a bachelor’s degree in a specific subject and complete an education program, as seen in the history teacher who majored in American History.
  1. Complete a teacher education program. The majority of school teachers must complete an education program while attending undergraduate school, and take classes specifically geared towards education. Depending on their school’s curriculum, teacher education could be incorporated within the bachelor’s degree program. Others must complete a teacher education program upon completion of their undergraduate degree. The added training touches upon the psychology of learning, the philosophy of education, and classroom technology.
  1. Fulfill student teaching requirements. Upon completion of core teaching courses, future educators are expected to gain experience in the field by participating in a student teaching/practicum program (also referred to as an internship). Student teaching is comprised of instructional classroom time at a local school, which provides a way for students to practice and fine-tune their skills as a teacher. The classroom experience is a full-time endeavor, and typically lasts between eight and twelve weeks.

To get a varied experience in the field, student teachers usually spend the first four to six weeks at one school, and then shift to a different location and grade for their remaining weeks. During this time, interns get a chance to prepare and present daily lesson plans; observe classroom mentors; network and communicate with other members of school staff; as well as attend and participate in faculty meetings, district gatherings, and parent-teacher conferences.

  1. Satisfy state requirements to get teaching credentials. Before a teacher can accept a position at a public school, he or she must have a license and state certification, whereas educators hired to work in most private school facilities are not always required to obtain certification because private institutions are free to hire whomever they wish.

The specific requirements for obtaining certification vary from state to state, but all involve earning a bachelor’s degree and completing a teacher education program. Some states require their teachers to pass a standardized test (such as the Praxis Exam) while others expect their educators to possess a degree related to the subject they wish to teach. It is also not uncommon to see teachers receive state-based certification pertaining to a specific subject or grade level.

Specific licenses for teachers include:

  • early childhood education (for teaching preschool through third grade students)
  • elementary education (first grade up to sixth or eighth grade)
  • middle school (geared towards teaching grades five through eight)
  • secondary education (accommodates specific subject areas for the 7th to 12th grade level)
  • specialized teaching (related to specific fields, such as special education or English as a second language)

To earn teaching credentials within a specific area, many states require teachers to gain additional hands-on experience as a student teacher under the supervision of a licensed teacher.

  1.  Earn a master’s degree in Education. Teachers with aspirations to further their education and qualify for higher-paying jobs with more responsibility often complete a master’s degree program in either a specific field of education (such as educational technology or curriculum development) or in an individual discipline, such as mathematics, English, or social studies.
  1. Pursue a doctorate degree, if desired. Teachers obtain either a Doctorate in Education (EdD) or a PhD in Education when they wish to become college professors; or if they have an interest in educational administration, making organizational changes, reshaping district policies and school curriculums, and/or assuming a position of leadership, such as becoming a dean of students at a college. Applicants to a doctorate program for teachers must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; and have a background in classroom teaching and/or related leadership experience relevant to the education field. Some EdD programs require candidates to complete master’s level coursework, and earn a specified number of credit hours.

 

Getting Hired

Teachers are hired to work in a range of employment settings, from traditional learning institutions (such as private and public school systems) to providing education to individuals residing in juvenile detention centers or prison. A variety of school environments await a teacher seeking employment – each with their own unique set of benefits and obstacles to overcome.

Upon completion of an education degree program, teachers entering the workforce apply to job openings based upon their subject background, specialty training, and/or grade-level expertise. The majority of teachers are employed in a traditional school system – private or public:

Working in Public Schools

Public schools (often referred to as ‘city schools’), receive funding from the state and government, and follow a set of rules developed by administrative powers, such as the city’s school district and state board of education. Under this umbrella, there are several different types of public schools that provide varied employment opportunities for teachers:

  • Charter Schools: Teachers who work at a charter school join the staff of an independent public school that does not have to abide by all of the same regulations as traditional learning institutions. Class sizes are smaller, and the school generally upholds high academic standards. Teachers who apply for a position at a charter school are expected to follow the educational philosophy of the institution, which varies from school to school.
  • Magnet Schools: Magnet schools follow the guidelines and regulations like public schools do, but represent highly specializing learning environments that concentrate on a specific method of teaching or particular area of study, such as the performing arts, or math and science.
  • Urban or Rural Schools: Schools located in urban and rural communities in the U.S. often demonstrate the greatest need for hiring teachers. In an effort to encourage new graduates to accept a position in underserved areas, there are incentives and organizations, such as Teach for America, which give teachers an ‘education voucher’ in addition to their salary and benefits, which helps pay down student loan debt, fund advanced education, or cover credentialing course fees.

Working in Private Schools

One of the glaring differences seen in teaching at a public school versus a private school is that the latter does not require an educator to become licensed or certified to teach. Instead, each private school develops their own criteria for hiring new staff and teachers. Private schools do not receive funding from federal, state or local governments, which means they are not required to follow the same regulations since public tax dollars do not play a role in financing the schools, which include the following types:

  • Boarding Schools: Oftentimes, teachers live in the same school community with their students, who reside away from home during their studies.
  • Religious Schools: Teachers with a specific religious belief may apply for a position at a school where religious teachings are at the center of learning.
  • Military Schools: With over 30 private military schools in the U.S., teachers at this type of educational institution are preparing their students for service in the army, and have a background in serving the military themselves.
  • Special Needs Schools: Dedicated to addressing the educational needs of children with learning disabilities (such as dyslexia or ADD/ADHD), teachers are required to have special training and certification to qualify for a position at this type of school.

There are also some private schools that follow a specific set of philosophies, curriculum, and methods of teaching, such as the Montessori schools (Dr. Maria Montessori) and Waldorf schools (Rudolf Steiner). Teachers may also take positions to educate students abroad, and find employment overseas through organizations, such as GoAbroad.com, which places job candidates at international schools, business schools, and military bases located in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. While some teaching abroad agencies do not require formal teaching qualifications, the best job offers are given to those with a teaching degree or certification.

Upon completion of an education program, new graduates increase their chances of finding employment by attending local job fairs and registering with online teaching job sites. Keeping in touch with college professors, as well as with teachers encountered while student teaching in local classrooms, is also a good way to build a professional network that comes in handy when letters of recommendation and references are needed for job applications.

Additional ways to increase the chances of being hired as a teacher include the following:

  • Pursue Experiences Related to the Teaching Field: While still a student, take the time to increase volunteer and paid experiences related to education or dealing with children – all of which help build a more well-rounded resume in the future. Examples include tutoring high school students; gaining employment at an after-school program; and leading a church youth group.
  • Increase Job-Seeking Efforts in the Summertime: According to Get a Teaching Job Now: A Step-by-Step Guide by Mary C. Clement, many school districts have made a shift from offering contracts to teachers in February and March for fall positions to now waiting to hire new teachers over the summer.
  • Join a Professional Organization: Becoming an active member of a teacher’s association, especially one that concentrates on a specific subject matter or location (such as the National Council of Teachers of English; Association for the Advancement of Computers in Education; or the Science Council of New York City), means gaining access to valuable networking opportunities, career insight, and job leads for teachers.
  • Further Education: Pursuing an advanced degree not only expands a teacher’s knowledge and understanding of today’s students and education system, but also increases the chances of being hired by a wider scope of employers seeking highly qualified teaching professionals. Job candidates possessing a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or a Master of Education (ME) are generally viewed as being more of an ‘expert’ in their field. The advanced degree is also a basic requirement for those with an interest in teaching at the college or university level.
  • Additional Teaching Credentials: Job candidates with credentials and certification regarding in-demand skills and specialties can significantly enhance their chances of qualifying for a greater range of job vacancies. Examples include a Special-Education Credential or Bilingual Education Certificate.

The median salary for teachers (and job security, benefits, and job competition) are all affected by a range of factors, including school environment (private versus public institutions), educational background, overall credentials that a job candidate possesses, and the grade level being taught.

In the U.S., the median salaries for specific teaching positions include [1]:

  • Preschool teachers ($27,130)
  • Career and technical education teachers ($51,910)
  • Elementary school and kindergarten teachers ($53,090)
  • Middle school teachers ($53,430)
  • High school teachers ($55,050)
  • Special education teachers ($55,060)

Geographic location also plays an important role. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites the top five states paying the highest median salaries to their elementary school teachers as Massachusetts ($69,890), California ($69,990), Connecticut ($70,820), Alaska ($71,460), and New York ($74,830).

Depending on the location, grade level and subject taught, job opportunities for teachers are considered good to excellent. There continues to be a great need to hire educators who can accommodate a growing U.S. population, as well as address the widespread trend to lower the teacher-to-student ratio in classrooms. As class size becomes smaller in many schools, the demand for more teachers will rise, especially in schools in need of new teachers to replace educators nearing retirement.

Teachers with specialized credentials in education (such as English as a Second Language (ESL) certification or a teaching background in Special Education) qualify to fill in-demand positions.

On a localized level, every state also experiences shortages in educators qualified to teach certain subjects, or able to meet the overall population’s educational needs. For example, the state of Nebraska demonstrates a widespread need to hire teachers specializing in ESL/ELL, Foreign Languages, Speech Language Pathology, Business Education, Mathematics, Natural Science, Art, Industrial Technology Education, and Special Education.

Additional hiring trends in the U.S. include the increased need to hire bilingual educators (especially in the West) and STEM teachers to educate students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. As seen in the Educate to Innovate program and the 2011 State of the Union Address, government initiatives have been put into place to actively prepare new teachers in the fields of math, engineering, science and technology.

Options for Career Advancement

A career in teaching comes with many different ways to advance within the field, as well as earn a higher income. School districts are becoming increasingly receptive to encouraging more teachers to embrace advancement opportunities, in an effort to retain outstanding educators. One of the most popular approaches involves obtaining an advanced degree, which amongst other things, opens the doors to job opportunities on an administrative level (such as vice-principal, principal, or department head).

Teachers may also use additional education and experience to educate students in higher grades, or teach a different subject matter. A master’s degree allows educators to teach courses at a community college, or work in an office striving to make changes in district-wide curriculum and policies. Some teachers conduct research, publish scholarly papers, and write books that assist parents, peers and students. Additional ways teachers may advance their career, increase their level of responsibility and influence, and/or earn a higher salary can be found in 20 Ways to Increase your Income as a Teacher [INSERT LINK to OTHER POST].

In conclusion, the teaching profession involves completing a degree program that prepares an individual to address the educational needs of a wide range of students. With the option to focus on a particular subject, teach a specific grade level or concentrate on educating a particular age group, teachers encounter a wealth of opportunities to pursue their interests, and then find employment upon graduation. Teachers enjoy a relatively stable career field with decent pay, benefits, and plenty of opportunities to advance. Additionally, the overall job growth for teachers is anticipated to continue increasing or staying in line with national averages, for 2012 to 2022.

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook; 2014-2015 Edition

 

Steps to Becoming a Teacher

While many people join the teaching profession in their early twenties, some people pursue teaching as second or subsequent career. In addition, depending on the subject area and level, a person’s path to becoming a teacher can require substantial planning and education, or little planning and education  — depending upon that person’s future goals.

Becoming a Preschool Teacher

The quickest way to become a teacher is to choose to teach the very young. In order to become a preschool teacher, an individual must graduate from high school, or earn an associate degree. In most cases, preschool teachers have also completed a certificate in early childhood education. The most common pathway to becoming a preschool teacher is to complete a Child Development Association (CDA) certificate, which is awarded upon completion of a set number of hours of professional education and professional experience.

Becoming an Elementary, Middle or High School Teacher

Teachers are hired on the basis of three factors: educational background, previous experience working with children in an educational setting, and civic standing and engagement.

1)  Educational Background:  Anyone interested in becoming an elementary, middle or high school teacher must complete a bachelor’s degree, and if they want to get hired, it is highly recommended that they complete a degree in a core subject (mathematics, english or history), rather than something only occasionally offered at the elementary, middle or high school levels (philosophy or gender studies).

Unless a person chooses an alternative pathway — enrolls in a program, like Teach for America, he or she must complete a bachelor of education degree simultaneous to, or following, their bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree. The bachelor of education, or BEd, is a degree that typically leads to initial licensure in the teaching field. In some cases, candidates may complete a master of arts in teaching, or MAT instead (this is a graduate level degree that leads to initial teaching licensure).

2)  Previous Experience:  Previous work and volunteer experience is often a major consideration when admitting students to BEd programs, and hiring new teachers. In order to gain entry into a bachelor of education program, previous experience working with children — at a summer camp or in an after- school program — is often considered desirable or required. Indeed, aspiring teachers are strongly encouraged to have some relevant volunteer or work experience with children in an educational setting.

When hiring teachers, previous experience is also a consideration. Candidates with experience coaching children’s soccer or working as a camp counselor, are often favored over candidates whose only previous experience was the time they spent in a classroom as part of a teacher-training program. In other words, the more experience an individual has working with children and young adults in all types of settings, the stronger candidate they will be.

3)  Community and Civic Involvement:  In order to become a teacher, it is also expected a person be an upstanding citizen in all respects. People with prior, pending, or current criminal convictions need not apply. In addition, most schools prefer to hire teachers who are well-rounded and community-oriented, and additional skills and exceptional talents are always welcome. In other words, if you have CPR training, have played second violin in a community orchestra, or tried out for the Olympic rowing team, be certain to highlight these skills and accomplishments on your resume.

Becoming a College or University Professor

Anyone hoping to teach at the college or university level should be prepared to spend a substantial amount of time in school. College or university professors spend a minimum of eight years in university following high school, but in most cases, much longer. The majority of college and university professors have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree, a one-    to two-year master’s degree, and PhD (usually a four-year program, but in many cases, earning a PhD can take six to eight years to complete).

Since it is common in many disciplines to also complete one or more postdoctoral positions, which last on average, one to two years, many professors have between twelve and fifteen years of postsecondary education by the time they obtain their first full-time teaching position. The only exception to this rule is in the visual and performing arts. In contrast to professors in the arts and sciences, professors of studio art, drama, music, and the like, are often hired on the basis of their reputations as artists, actors, directors or musicians, and may or may not, have the same formal academic credentials as their colleagues in other disciplines.

In addition to the fact that college and university professors may have much more, or much less education than the average elementary, middle or high school teacher, they likely have no formal training in the science of teaching. While some may have taken a required or voluntary workshop on teaching, most have not, and for this reason they may, or may not be good teachers. This is especially true at the university level where researching and publishing is typically considered more important than teaching; teaching may be considered a minor part of the job.

IS IT WORTHWHILE TO BECOME A TEACHER?

Teaching is one of the world’s most rewarding professions. It is a way to impart knowledge and help foster the success of the next generation. At its best, teaching is an intellectually stimulating profession and an integral part of the “affective economy.” In other words, it is about ideas, knowledge and caring.

Whether you choose to pursue teaching as a career, depends a great deal on your priorities and aptitudes.  After all, few teaching jobs will make you rich. Moreover, teaching, regardless of the subject matter, is a social profession — a teacher needs to have excellent interpersonal skills and a high degree of patience and empathy. If an individual is frustrated by people who don’t appear to share in his or her opinions, competencies or personal drive, teaching may not be an ideal career path.  For many people, however, teaching is a first career choice, and the only career they can imagine pursuing.

Annual Compensation for Teachers

At its best, a teaching career at a prestigious college or university will bring in an annual income in excess of $200,000, and carry generous benefits and ample vacation time. But this is by no means the norm. Most full professors make between $90,000 and $150,000 per year, and only achieve this compensation later in their careers. However, most college and university teaching is now performed by part-time professors who often teach throughout the year, struggle to make even $30,000 annually from a variety of jobs, and usually have no health benefits or retirement contributions from their employers.

Preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school teachers also report a wide range of salaries and working conditions. In some districts, teachers with seniority and additional qualifications, such as a graduate degree, make over $85,000 annually. Most elementary, middle, and high school teachers report an annual income in the $50,000 to $60,000 range.  In either case, many teachers typically enjoy health benefits and employer retirement contributions. By contrast, many teaching assistants and preschool teachers make far less than the average American, typically declaring between $20,000 and $30,000 per year.

Health and Retirement Benefits

Most full-time teachers, with the exception of preschool teachers, have some form of health benefits, and receive employer contributions to their retirement funds. This holds true for college and university professors, and most teachers with full-time jobs in the public school system. Private school teachers may or may not enjoy benefits. Preschool teachers are also less likely to receive benefits as part of their job. Most teaching assistants and supply teachers do not receive benefits of any kind, particularly not if they are employed on a part-time basis.

Current Job Prospects and Projected Growth for a Teacher

Depending on the grade level and subject, teaching may or may not be a safe career choice to pursue at this time. While the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 19% growth rate in postsecondary teachers over the next decade, there is already a surplus of qualified college and university level teachers, particularly in the arts and humanities.

In some disciplines, such as English, less than half of graduating PhDs are expected to ever obtain full-time teaching appointments at the university level. Jobs for elementary, middle, and high school teachers have a projected growth rate that mirrors the national average of 12% over the coming decade.  However, in some metropolitan areas, the surplus of qualified teachers means that certified teachers, even with master’s degrees, often work on a part-time basis or as teaching assistants for many years before finding permanent jobs.

As a rule, at both the secondary and postsecondary levels, qualified candidates who are willing to relocate to less desirable locations outside major urban centers, may be more likely to obtain permanent jobs immediately following graduation.

Quality of Life

Measuring one’s quality of life is never a simple task. It may contain things such as leisure time, commute time to work, home ownership, and the ability to make long term plans. Once again, depending on a person’s teaching goals, their quality of life may vary considerably.

If an individual can find a full-time permanent job, teaching can prove to be one of the most secure jobs available on today’s job market. School teachers with many years of seniority, or tenure, often enjoy just as much job security as college and university professors.

For all the stories about bad teachers with “jobs for life,” in today’s economy, there are also a growing number of great teachers will little or no job security. If a person owns his or her own home (or has the potential to eventually do so) or enjoys ample leisure time, is typically contingent on whether or not he or she holds a permanent full-time, or temporary and/or part-time teaching position.

So, does teaching offer a high quality of life? For some, a career in teaching offers a high-level of job security, a decent income, robust benefits, and of course, generous vacation time. At some levels of the education system, a teacher may even be eligibility to apply for paid leaves. But, most of all, a teaching position — at any level — is both rewarding and satisfying.

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DOCTORATE OF EDUCATION

Faculties of education typically offer several different types of degrees.  For instance:

  • Bachelor’s of education
  • Master of education
  • Master of arts in education
  • Master of arts in teaching
  • Doctorate of education
  • Doctorate of philosophy in education

Doctoral students pursuing a doctorate of education and doctorate of philosophy in education sometimes share common research interests, but the degrees are characterized by different expectations and outcomes. A doctorate of philosophy in education is designed for people who wish to carry out educational research, and teach at the university level. For this reason, the degree’s expectations more or less follow those of any other doctoral level program in the arts. By contrast, a doctorate of education, or EdD, is designed to prepare people for leadership roles in education. For this reason, EdDs are usually pursued by individuals who ultimately wish to apply their expertise in a school setting.

Degree Requirements for a Doctorate of Education

In most cases, incoming EdD candidates already hold a bachelor of arts or bachelor of education and master of arts or master of education. Typically, they have written the GRE or GMAT and achieved above average verbal and quantitative scores (notably, for candidates interested in policy or measurement research, quantitative scores may be given equal or higher weight by admissions committees). Finally, in the case of EdD programs, it is usually assumed that incoming candidates have substantial experience working as teachers and administrators, usually in a public school environment.

Once accepted to an EdD program, candidates should be prepared to complete additional graduate coursework in education. In most programs, they are also expected to study for, and successfully write and defend, one or more field exams in their chosen area of specialization. With few exceptions, they are expected to write and defend a dissertation.

Because EdD programs train people to assume leadership roles in education, coursework may include courses in educational policy or quantitative or qualitative research, as well as courses more often found in business programs (courses on topics such as change management or change leadership). Dissertation topics tend to focus on policy issues or offer detailed case studies of specific educational initiatives.

Since EdD candidates tend to be older than the average graduate student, and many already hold full-time positions as teachers or school principals, EdD programs sometimes provide candidates with the option of pursuing their doctoral studies on a part-time basis, or in a flexible format (courses may be offered in the evenings, on weekends, or as intensive coursework in the summer months when most teachers and principals are not working). In some cases, EdD programs expect candidates to complete fewer courses than PhD candidates, or conversely, they require EdD candidates to complete more courses, but to complete a capstone project rather than a dissertation.

Areas of Specialization

The American Educational Research Association (AERA), the largest and most important academic society for educational researchers in the US, is divided into twelve major scholarly and scientific areas. Historically, researchers with EdDs, and those pursuing EdDs have been most highly concentrated in five AERA areas:

  1. Administration and leadership
  2. Measurement
  3. Research
  4. Assessment and evaluation
  5. Politics and educational policy

But, EdDs are by no means confined to these areas, nor are PhDs excluded from them. In recent years, there are been a growing debate in the education field about whether or not the distinction between a EdD and PhD in education, is valid or even necessary. In 2012, for example, Harvard Graduate School of Education announced that it was phasing out its EdD program, but maintaining a recently established doctorate in educational leadership program.

While the distinction between the EdD and PhD in education is often difficult to define, the Harvard School of Education believes that their new EdLD is not only distinct from its PhD in focus and expectations, but carries a degree of rigor on par with applied programs in other fields, such as law and business.

Careers Outlook for a Doctorate of Education

People with EdDs typically end up acquiring full-time leadership positions in the school system. Many EdDs obtain work as vice-principals, principals, school superintendents, or educational consultants. Other EdDs go on to work for government or non-governmental organizations where educational researchers are in demand, such as the US Department of Education, The College Board or Common Core Standards Initiative. EdDs who have specialized in higher education often assume leadership roles within colleges and universities, such as assistant dean, associate dean or associate provost positions.

BACHELOR OF ARTS IN EDUCATION

In the US, most aspiring teachers chose one of two pathways into the profession. First, there are students who enroll directly into a bachelor of education program. These are usually highly focused students who have always known that they want to pursue a career in teaching. Second, there are students who choose to complete a bachelor of arts, bachelor of science or bachelor of fine arts degree (sometimes also a master’s degree), and then complete a bachelor of education degree leading to teacher certification. In addition, there are students who choose to complete a bachelor of arts degree in education, but in contrast to the first two pathways, this option may or may not lead to some form of teacher certification. While bachelor of education degrees are offered as a pathways to teacher certification, bachelor of arts or BAs in education usually do not lead to teacher certification and rather aim to introduce students to the field of education studies. Nevertheless, many students who complete a BA in education or educational studies do go on to enroll in bachelor of education programs and having already completed a degree in the education field, they are often considered preferred candidates.

Degree Requirements

The content of a BA in education depends on whether or not the degree has been designed as a pathway to teacher certification or not. In cases where the degree is not a pathway to teacher certification, coursework tends to focus on topics such as the history of education, social issues in education and educational theory. In addition to gaining a thorough knowledge of how educational philosophies have changed over time or contemporary issues in education (e.g., the impact of different social and cultural factors on high school graduation rates), students acquire many of the research skills needed to carry out research in the social sciences. As such, students who complete a BA in education typically graduate with quantitative research skills (e.g., they understand how to read and even generate basic statistics) and qualitative research skills (e.g., they have experience carrying out participant observations or interviews).

Areas of Specialization

While students usually do not choose an area of specialization while pursuing educational studies at the undergraduate level, they may begin to develop specific interest (e.g., educational philosophy or the history of education). Programs with capstone requirements, which may include a senior project or thesis, provide opportunities for students to begin pursuing their own specialized research interest, which may lay the groundwork for further investigations at the graduate level.

Careers

Again, it is important to note that many bachelor of arts degrees in education are not designed as pathways to teacher certification, but there are some exceptions (e.g., Goddard College’s bachelor of arts in education includes an option that enables candidates to certify to each some subjects in Vermont, and Lesley University offers a bachelor of arts in middle school education that leads to initial teacher licensure).  However, in many instances, a bachelor of arts in education is pursued for the same reasons one might pursue a bachelor of arts in English or anthropology—out of a genuine interest in the subject matter, which in this case includes education, schools, teaching and pedagogy. The most obvious next step for someone who has completed a bachelor of arts in education, then, is to complete a master of arts in education and eventually, a PhD in education with the goal of establishing themselves as an educational researcher. Since educational studies is recognized as a social science discipline, some students who complete an undergraduate degrees in education go on to pursue graduate degrees in other social science disciplines (e.g., sociology). Other graduates go on to complete degrees that do lead to teacher certification and subsequently, pursue a teaching career at the elementary, middle or high school level. Finally, many graduates do not complete any additional education and choose to work in the governmental or non-profit sectors in research, policy or advocacy positions.

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