As the number of students enrolled in schooling grows on all levels, qualified teachers are expected to be in high demand in the coming years. Teachers have the opportunity to dedicate their lives to making a difference, and doing it with the subject or age group that they love. If you’re interested in finding creative and resourceful ways to introduce new concepts and challenge students to expand on their skills and knowledge then teaching is a great career option.
Earning an online teaching degree online can open up a whole new career path for you, regardless if you're currently in the classroom or hope to move into one. A bachelor's degree will prepare you for a life in education, while a master's degree can help you switch careers and start teaching. Many of these degrees can be earned entirely online, although you will have to perform student teaching sessions in a local school.
THE CAREER PATH
There are many paths to becoming a teacher, and each professional discovers or carves the path that best suits their lifestyle, goals, and needs individually. Regardless of the setting that they work in, teachers must be dedicated to a job that may require long days and problem—solving in the face of new challenges. Between class preparation, instruction time, and after-school responsibilities, the role of a teacher can vary quite a bit between professionals. The Department of Labor describes the different types of careers that teachers may choose for themselves:
- Elementary Teachers – Teachers that work with younger children, usually in kindergarten through fifth grade, and prepare them with the foundation for future schooling and life skills. Elementary school teachers usually have a comprehensive knowledge of core subjects like reading, math, science, communication, and can create a curriculum that builds skills based on varying developmental strengths and needs in classrooms.
- Middle School Teachers – Middle school teachers usually work with adolescents and preteens between fifth and eighth grades, continuing on the foundation of elementary school in preparation for high school, college, and career-based skills. Unlike elementary school teachers, middle school teachers are usually responsible for teaching a particular subject or collection of subjects, such as English and history, math and science, or technical instruction.
- High School Teachers – High school teachers usually work with teenagers in their final years of schooling before they enter the workforce or go on to receive postsecondary education. High school teachers are often responsible for honing the skills of their students in particular core areas such as math or social sciences, or for building basic occupational skills.
- Special Education Teachers – Special education teachers offer flexible curriculum that provides a comfortable learning experience for students who may face an array of educational challenges. Special education teachers may be found at any level of the education system and are required to have unique skills in order to adequately serve their students.
- Teaching Assistants – Professionals that work alongside of a teacher to assist in offering additional supervision, guidance, and attention to students in a particular classroom. Positions as teaching assistants can make a great entry-point for aspiring teachers who want to gain work experience alongside of an education. These positions are usually the most accessible for aspiring professionals, as they only require two years of college education in most states and are expected to grow at almost the same rate as other education professionals, although they make less than other professionals on average.
- Postsecodary Teachers – Teachers can also work in a postsecondary setting, in colleges and universities, with adult learners and students learning English as a Second Language, in childcare facilities, and many other types of institutions.
Most teachers make upwards of $55,000 on average and are required to have at least a bachelor’s or master’s level education in addition to a state-issued certification or licensure for teaching.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Shaping the developing generation to inherit the world around them is a huge task, and it lies on the shoulders of teachers. Students of all ages are impacted by their teachers for their entire lives. Teachers are the professionals that are responsible for preparing students for success—in school and out.
Ultimately, professionals can develop their career at their own pace to meet their goals. Each teacher can shape their career and grow their skills to meet the students that they can best serve. Teaching in all environments and at all levels involves unique challenges and exciting opportunities to watch students discover and experience learning at its best. In order to be successful as teachers, professionals must be patient and understanding and communicate with students in a way that they can understand.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
All 50 states require public school teachers to hold at least a bachelor's degree, as well as licensure. Your bachelor's degree must meet your state licensing requirements. Typical requirements include completing months of student teaching in a local school under the watchful eye of a licensed teacher. After you finish your program, you will be required to sit for the teacher licensure exam in your state. Only after you pass that exam will you be a licensed teacher and able to work in a public school.
Earning a teaching degree online is challenging—but no more so than if you earned this same degree on campus. Much of the extra work is a result of licensing, which is necessary in order to safeguard children, and to ensure a nationally standardized system of public education for grades K-12. However, if you wish to work at a private school or nonprofit, you may not need licensing.
Many types of online teaching degree programs are available. One way to narrow down your options is by deciding the age range you'd like to teach. If you'd like to work with children from birth to age five, consider an online early childhood education degree. An elementary education degree covers kindergarten up to eighth grade, while a secondary education degree will prepare you to work with middle school and high school students. If you want to teach but hold a bachelor's degree in a subject other than education, consider earning a MAT (master's of art in teaching) degree online. This master's degree is geared for professionals who want to transition into a teaching career. If you're already teaching in a classroom, you'll be better served by a master's of education degree.
You will usually need a master's or doctorate degree to teach adults, although licensing is usually not required. Program majors to consider include the teaching online degree (learn how to teach all ages online), the adult education degree, the post-secondary degree (for college and higher education teaching) or the training and development degree (for use in corporate environments).
Programmatic accreditation (an extra seal of quality) is offered via the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) for teaching degrees. These programs may be more expensive but they can be considered more prestigious.
Our rankings reveal that the average cost of an online master's in teaching (the MAT degree) is just under $19,000 in the United States. Cost can vary widely, however. The most affordable programs cost under $15,000 and the most expensive cost over $50,000.