Pursuing a Degree in Education? Here Are Your Career Options.

Pursuing a Degree in Education? Here Are Your Career Options.While some might assume that getting an undergraduate degree in education leads directly to a career as a professor or teacher, that’s not all an education degree has to offer in terms of career paths. The ongoing teacher shortage and a drop in the number of enrollments in teacher education programs has put qualified professionals in high demand — it’s predicted that between 2021 and 2024, almost 2 million teaching jobs will be available nationwide.

The shortage of teachers in the United States is significant — at the moment, it’s estimated that there are more than 36,000 vacancies for teachers across the nation, and more than 163,000 teacher positions occupied by teachers who either aren’t fully certified or aren’t certified in the subject they’re teaching. The situation is worse in the South, and may be even worse than what’s being reported.

But while there’s no shortage of demand for those with an education degree, there are other directions your career could take.

Education Administration

Those who choose to pursue a master’s degree could go on to get a degree in Education Administration, which would let them work within academia at a broader level than teaching. An education administrator helps teachers adhere to district, federal, and state requirements with regards to class materials, as well as help develop standalone programs for schools. An education administrator is in charge of a school’s budget, disciplinary guidelines, event planning, and scheduling. The most common job positions for education administrators are dean, principal, or vice principal, but might also take positions oriented more toward teachers (such as professional development).

School Counseling

For individuals looking to help students (and parents) in a way other than teaching, there’s school counseling. It’s a counselor’s job to help students reach their full potential — academically, emotionally, and socially. Being a school counselor is an ideal position for people who know how to listen and propose solutions. A school counselor can help with academic issues, emotional problems, trouble at home or with other students, and much more. Becoming a counselor requires both a Master’s degree and a state-issued license and certification. School counselors work in classrooms often, usually for grades K-12, but may also work in an office environment.

School Social Work

Similar to counseling is the role of school social work. School social workers tend to work more with behavior issues, such as aggressiveness, bullying, truancy, or acts such as school vandalism. Their job is to work with students as well as their families to get to the root cause of the issue and help develop steps and strategies to help overcome those problems.

A school social worker is an advocate for both students and parents, as well as a mediator in conflicts or disagreements. School social workers will often help with problems in a student’s living that’s affecting their time at school, advising and developing assessments for students with special needs, and engaging in conflict resolution. It’s also a social worker’s responsibility to provide information and access to external resources to both teachers and students, develop training programs for teachers, and help schools receive resources and support from state and federal mental health agencies. It’s also in a school social worker’s wheelhouse to identify and report any sign of child abuse among students.

Like a school counselor, a school social worker’s main focus is helping students meet their full potential so they can make the most of their academic, personal, and professional lives.


Finally, we come to the broadest and most common field for graduates with a degree in education: teaching. Teaching is the ideal choice if you enjoy working with children and / or adults, helping to educate them and prepare them for the world beyond school. Teachers also have some of the broadest range of opportunity when it comes to where they work: in an elementary or high school classroom, online, or on a university campus. A graduate of education could choose to teach math or english to children, or choose to become a college professor and instruct students in advanced subjects. One might also elect to pursue teaching English as a second language, helping those who do not speak native English understand both the language and the culture and environment they’ve come into.

Career Outlook for Education Degree Holders

While the common consensus is that teachers are underpaid for the work they do, that may not be true at every level. The median wage for teachers is around $36,000, but that changes dramatically if you have a more advanced degree. For example, an assistant professor earns an average of $60,188 yearly. Licensed school counselors make $55,410. Special education teachers receive around $58,980 yearly, and a full college professor can earn $143,823. At the upper level, education administrators earn around $75,000 per year.