For teachers who are looking for ways to develop professionally, gain access to more job opportunities, and improve their earning potential, a master’s degree in education (MEd) is a great option. In many cases, teachers can continue to work full-time and take MEd online courses. There are also a wide variety of specializations, so students can focus on their interests and start building a career around a specific aspect of education.
Master’s in Education Specializations
- Adult Education
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Early Childhood Education
- Educational Administration
- Educational Leadership
- Educational Technology
- Elementary Education
- Higher Education Leadership
- Instructional Design
- Secondary Education
- Special Education
- Teaching Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
- What is the Best Master’s Degree to Get in Education?
Students who pursue an MEd in adult education go on to provide instruction to adult learners who are preparing for exams, including the GED, or working to develop skills like strengthening their English. An adult education instructor develops strong interpersonal skills so they can connect with adult learners that come from diverse backgrounds and have a wide range of skill levels.
Adult Education Salary: The average base salary for an adult education instructor with a Master’s degree is $46,712. Instructors in the top percentile can earn around $76,000.1
Adult Education Job Duties:
Adult education instructors are expected to assess students’ skills and create lesson plans that address their needs and meet course objectives. Additional job duties include participating in organizational and staff meetings, attending training and graduations, and fulfilling any other obligations outlined by the administration.
Daily tasks include keeping track of grades and attendance, delivering lessons, and leading group activities. Successful instructors constantly monitor progress and adjust curriculum and teaching methods as needed. They also deliver updates on progress to both educators and the students themselves.
Curriculum and Instruction
Earning a master’s in education and specializing in curriculum and instruction prepares students to develop training materials and entire instructional programs. Educators can apply these skills well beyond the field of education, including research and government roles. The skills learned can also be used to design and test corporate training, write and edit textbooks, and develop detailed syllabi and instructional materials.
Curriculum and Instruction Salaries:
- Curriculum Developer: The average base salary for this position is $63,885 with experienced professionals earning around $90,000.2
- Curriculum Director: Working as a curriculum director comes with about the same earning potential with a base salary of $63,885.3
Curriculum and Instruction Job Duties:
Curriculum directors may have a range of duties depending on what kind of industry or company they work in. In general, directors are in charge of creating and updating course outlines, syllabi, and instructional resources and materials. They may also be responsible for instructing students and users on navigating online material while also troubleshooting problems and recording and analyzing certain usage data.
Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education (ECE) instructors work with children in preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school students through third grade. This can be a challenging career because ECE teachers are expected to cover all subjects. Instructors may teach math, science, and art while also working with students to develop strong social, motor, and emotional skills. ECE is truly an all-encompassing role that helps build a strong foundation for children that will carry them into adulthood.
Early Childhood Education Salary: The average salary for an instructor in early childhood education is $48,644. Using the degree to take on a leadership role at an institution can increase earning potential to an average of $72,000.4
Early Childhood Education Job Duties:
On a daily basis, early childhood education instructors
- Develop and deliver lesson plans, resources, and materials
- Evaluate students
- Communicate with administration and parents
- Attend Meetings and training
- Supervise the classroom
Earning a MEd and specializing in educational administration prepares students for a range of leadership roles. Graduates often work as assistant principals, school administrators, or curriculum coordinators. In general, educational administration professionals oversee certain operations and make sure that the school or organization meets certain standards. This includes implementing certain state and federal testing, complying with local requirements, and adjusting staff training or mandating certain programs or policies.
Educational Administration Salaries:
- Curriculum Coordinator: The average base salary for this position is $50,314.
- School Administrator: Starting school administrators can expect a base salary of $64,022.
- Assistant Principal: At the entry-level, assistant principals typically earn around $67,000. More experienced principals can earn up to $80,000.
Educational Administration Job Duties:
Common job duties will depend on the type of educational administrative position.
Assistant principals spend time ensuring compliance in a variety of areas, working with teachers and parents to meet goals, and establishing and enforcing a range of academic and behavioral standards for students.
School administrators play a similar role as assistant principals while a curriculum coordinator may work outside of education to design and oversee training and professional development in a variety of fields.
Master’s in education students who want to play a larger role at certain institutions should consider concentrating in educational leadership. In general, these leadership roles ensure the quality of the learning experience. This can include
- Evaluating teachers
- Handling complaints
- Mentoring and guiding students
- Overseeing student activities and services
Since educational leadership leads to positions that come with additional responsibilities, there is excellent earning potential.
Educational Leadership Salaries:
- Dean of Students: The average starting salary is $63,702 and can grow significantly based on experience and the size and reputation of the college or university.
- Department Chair: A college department chair’s salary might start at around $84,046 and can earn over $152,000.
- Principal: The average base salary is $92,956 with top earners making around $135,000.
- University Registrar: Registrars start at an average of $57,943.
Educational Leadership Job Duties:
Daily tasks range depending on the type of leadership role and education institution. Typically, an educational leadership professional oversees school curriculum, services, programs, administration, and teachers. They also supervise school staff and ensure compliance for everything from safety and emergency plans to federal student testing.
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in education and instruction, creating an increased demand for those with an MEd in Educational Technology. Those with expertise in this area
- Design online courses
- Work as a media specialist who trains and supports other educators
- Consult on a variety of curriculum development projects
- Take their skills into the classroom to work directly with students
Educational technology graduates often explore different fields, opportunities, and interests.
Educational Technology Salary: With an MEd and educational technology degree, professionals enjoy an average salary of $68,673 with minimal experience.5
Educational Technology Job Duties:
Educational technology experts work in education, business, and even the military. Their skills are in demand across a wide range of settings. Along with designing and implementing new courses, training, curriculum, and online learning portals, educational technologists may teach students, instruct, and train professionals to use technological resources. This role can be hands-on and interactive or more of a behind-the-scenes position.
Those with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education typically teach students grades 1-6. Unlike high school teachers who usually teach just one subject, elementary education teachers must be experts in all disciplines. They play an important role in the early years of young students and work more closely with parents to ensure that students are on track and all their needs are being met, especially when it comes to any learning challenges. Students at this age are also learning social and motor skills and teachers need to nurture these skills while also showing tremendous patience for energetic children.
Elementary Education Salary: An elementary education teacher earns an average base salary of $46,519.6
Elementary Education Job Duties:
Elementary educators spend their days
- Designing and teaching lesson plans
- Supervising activities
- Providing instruction across all disciplines while also encouraging good social skills
- Evaluating students
- Communicating progress to both administrators and parents
After school, they may spend time grading papers, developing future lesson plans, decorating the classroom, and running extracurricular activities.
English as a second language (ESL) or English language learner (ELL) instructors work with students who are not proficient at English and may not be aware of common cultural customs. Oftentimes, students come from a home or different country where English is not the primary language spoken.
Instructional duties go beyond simply teaching English as professionals help students understand assignments in other courses and navigate the academic environment. ESL and ELL teachers work with students of all ages, including adults.
ESL/ELL Salary: Instructors earn an average base salary of $45,896.7
ESL/ELL Job Duties:
ESL/ELL instructors are responsible for helping students improve their English reading, writing, and comprehension. Since English proficiency levels vary by student, ESL/ELL teachers usually have to create a more customized curriculum that meets students where they are and helps them meet certain goals.
Higher Education Leadership
Those interested in advising students and guiding them through their academic careers often pursue a master’s in education. Higher education leadership professionals are often in charge of orientations, helping students sign up for classes, and making sure they are meeting all the requirements to graduate on time.
Higher education leadership can also lead to a position in admissions where professionals will help promote the school, recruit students, and decide who is admitted. Registrars help with many of these duties while also taking care of student records.
Higher Education Leadership Salaries:
- Academic Advisor: The average base salary for an Academic Advisor at a college or university is $44,590.
- Assistant Director of Admissions: A leadership position in admissions comes with a base salary of $50,248.
- Registrar: A college registrar starts at $57,943.
Higher Education Leadership Job Duties:
During an average day, an academic advisor meets with students and assists them with planning and registering for courses, exploring financial aid options, and discussing degree requirements.
A registrar meets with faculty and students, processes paperwork, works extensively with the university’s software programs, and provides other administrative services.
An assistant director of admissions may participate in outreach and recruitment events, work with other staff on promotional initiatives, and review student applications.
An instructional designer puts together materials and resources that can be used in a variety of educational and instructional settings. They utilize the latest technology to design multimedia programs that speak to the needs of the audience.
As course designers, these professionals select the best lesson delivery method and use their knowledge of pedagogical theories and philosophies to put together custom programs. Instructional designers can work as educators, train other educators, design courses for schools, or work in the corporate world.
Instructional Design Salary: Instructional designers are required to have extensive knowledge of the latest technology and teaching methods, which helps them earn an average salary of $63,525.8
Instructional Design Job Duties:
An instructional designer works with other teams at the school or company to better understand the needs of the project and expectations around the design. From there, they develop various instructional materials and resources using technology. Once an instructional program has been implemented, the designer evaluates its effectiveness and continues to make adjustments as needed.
Secondary education instructors work with middle and high school students. Classroom sizes tend to be large, so teachers need to be able to keep control of the classroom and engage students. It is also important to remember that students at this level will test boundaries and authority, so secondary education teachers must handle these situations. Middle and high school students also take various state tests and prepare for college, so this tends to be a part of the coursework.
Secondary Education Salary: The average base salary for a secondary education instructor is $49,906.
Secondary Education Job Duties:
As with other classroom instructors, secondary education teachers are responsible for
- Designing and delivering lesson plans and lectures
- Conducting experiments and demonstrations with students when appropriate
- Taking attendance
- Grading tests and papers
- Maintaining records
- Tracking progress
- Communicating with parents and administration
Instructors may also oversee extracurricular activities.
Special education teachers fulfill an important role by working with students with a variety of learning disabilities. Based on the needs of the student, the instructor designs a curriculum that expands the student’s skill set. So, MEd in Special Education programs teach these important skills.
Lessons may range from traditional subjects to learning about hygiene and improving physical strength. Special education teachers have to constantly adapt and be especially empathetic towards their students, more skills learned during a program.
Special Education Salary:
- Pre-K through Elementary: Special education teachers with a M.Ed who work with younger children can expect to earn an average salary of $49,293.
- Middle through High School: Teachers who work with older students get a bit of a pay bump. The average base salary is $51,811.
Special Education Teacher Job Duties:
What makes the duties of a special education teacher unique is that they have to cater more closely to the individual needs of students. Otherwise, they are responsible for the same tasks as traditional instructors which include
- Designing and leading lesson plans
- Keeping attendance
- Tracking grades
- Communicating with parents and administration
- Monitoring and measuring progress
- Enforcing rules
Teaching Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
For students who aren’t completely sure if they want to pursue a specific focus in education, earning a MAT degree is a good option. This course of study prepares educators for a variety of positions that can segue into other careers, both inside and outside of academia. Many professionals use this degree to become corporate trainers, work as educational directors in museums, or develop educational content across industries.
Master of Arts in Teaching Salaries: In general, someone with an MAT can expect to earn an average of $54,709, though salaries vary by career.
Master of Arts in Teaching Job Duties:
Since this tends to be a more general focus, degree participants open themselves up to a variety of opportunities. Professionals can work in many industries and use their skills and knowledge to pursue instructional or consultation opportunities.
What is the Best Master’s Degree to Get in Education?
There is no singular answer to which Master’s Degree in Education is best. Within the MEd course of study there are a lot of specializations and opportunities to pursue personal interests. If professionals are passionate about education and a particular focus, then there are infinite opportunities. At the same time, there is room for exploration into other industries. Essentially, with the right education, experience and passion, there is unlimited earning potential.
Amy Blitchok is a professional writer based in Raleigh, NC. She covers topics that range from health and technology to marketing and sales. As a former English lecturer, she has a personal connection to academia and the topic of educaiton. When she isn’t writing or reading, she is taking care of her menagerie of pets and foster animals.