Most of us newly minted teachers enter into the education field with only a bachelor’s degree. Fresh out of college, we are ready to change the world one student at a time. It might have taken us five years to graduate college since degrees in education seem to take longer as time goes by (the added student teaching program takes about six months on its own), but we are ready to make a mark in the classroom.
But then after being in the teaching field for a few years, we tend to fall into one of three categories. Unfortunately, the first category would be to leave the teaching profession entirely. Depending on the statistics that get tossed around by different publications, 20 to 40 percent of teachers choose to leave the field in the first five years. Hopefully, this won’t be the group you choose to join. If you are considering this option, I would first implore you to think about changing grade levels or the subject area that you teach. If needed, you may even change school districts. You might just need a change of scenery to brighten your outlook.
Your next option would be to just keep on teaching with your bachelor’s degree year after year and make your way towards retirement. There is nothing wrong with this and many teachers choose to follow this path. They might have a busy home life and don’t want to disrupt it all that much.
The last option would be to keep on teaching but also start taking classes on the side to attain your master’s degree in education. More and more teachers are going this route for a few key reasons. There are drawbacks to following this path, but there are also benefits that could outweigh it. If you are considering obtaining an advanced degree in education, maybe the list below of pros and cons will help you make your final decision.
The Time Commitment
A master’s degree in education will more than likely take you at least two years to complete. You will have to take anywhere from 12 to 18 extra college courses (and pass them all successfully) to receive your master’s. If you barely have the time to keep up with your teaching commitments, you may find it very difficult to take a load of classes on top of it.
If you search hard enough, you may be able to find a good deal on how much it will cost to receive your advanced degree. Most likely, though, you are looking at about a $20,000 to $60,000 hit financially for your master’s. Teachers don’t make a lot to begin with, so this is a pretty steep price tag for most of us.
On the other hand, you will get a step up on the pay scale if you are a teacher that has their master’s instead of simply their bachelor’s. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the 2011 to 2012 school year, full-time teachers who held a bachelor’s degree earned an average salary of $46,340 across the U.S. The NCES reported that full-time teachers with a master’s degree earned an average of $57,830 per year. If you plan on being in the teaching field for many years, that bump up in pay can offset the original price tag for your master’s.
Increased Knowledge and Respect
You will learn some new things in your courses while you are completing your master’s degree. These things can then immediately be put to use in your classroom and shared with other educators as well. In fact, you may choose a master’s program that allows you to become a specialist in a certain field of education. For instance, my master’s degree in education is in the field of reading and literacy and I also was able to obtain a Reading Specialist certificate along with it. This eventually led me to become the Reading Specialist for three different school districts. The respect that the master’s degree provided made it possible for me to get my foot in the door in places that I otherwise might not have.
The Choice Is Yours
Will an advanced degree in education help you in the teaching field? It most certainly will provide you with new strategies and activities in the classroom that you might not have learned elsewhere. There will be increased pay as well. But it does take a great time commitment and a costly financial commitment, too. Only you can decide if the benefits are great enough to pursue your master’s. However, if you are in this for the long haul, it would be a good move to get your master’s sooner rather than later.
If you are still interested in broadening your horizon but don’t have the time to take whole master’s classes, iAchieve could be of assistance. We offer various professional development programs that you can complete in just one day. They will provide for further growth as an educator that would be beneficial for all in the classroom. By choosing these workshops, you will be making less of a time commitment and financial commitment as well.
Written by Ryan Crawley