What Can You Do with an Education Degree?

For many, teaching is more than just a job. It’s a calling. And if you feel the calling to make a difference in the lives of students through every stage of their development, pursuing a degree in education is an excellent way to do so. A degree in education helps prepare students for roles as teachers, administrators, principals, and other rewarding careers in schools and universities. From K-8 to high school and postsecondary, there are opportunities for teachers at every level of the public and private school system.

Because all states require at least a bachelors’ degree to become a public school teacher, earning a degree in education can give you a solid foundation in lesson planning and instruction, classroom management, psychology, pedagogy, and other teaching best practices. Education degrees also offer a variety of concentrations, so you can shape your training around the career you want. Although you can become a teacher with a degree in a subject other than education, pursing an education degree is the most straightforward and direct route into the profession.

This guide helps prospective educators explore a range of education careers, degrees, and work environments and will answer the question, “what can you do with an education degree?”

What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Education?

Teaching is a popular avenue to explore with an education degree, but this degree opens up a variety of non-teaching careers as well. The table below illustrates just some of the career paths you can pursue with an education or related degree.

Teaching Careers & Salary Potential

Job TitleJob DescriptionSalary Potential
Kindergarten and Elementary TeacherKindergarten and elementary teachers work with young children and teach essential skills and concepts. These teachers teach multiple subjects, communicate with parents, and have a strong understanding of child development. Some elementary teachers specialize in a subject, like art, ESL, or physical education.$59,670
Middle School TeacherMiddle school teachers help students transition from elementary school to high school by preparing them academically, emotionally, and socially. They typically specialize in a particular subject.$59,660
High School TeacherHigh school teachers work with 9th-12th grade students. They usually teach one subject area, help with college prep, and life skills and act as mentors to students.$61,660
Postsecondary TeacherPostsecondary teachers specialize in one subject and typically teach in colleges, universities, and technical schools. They may also engage in research and other scholarly work.$79,540
Postsecondary Education AdministratorThese professionals work in colleges and can take on different roles. Provosts, deans, admissions officers, and academic affairs specialists are all postsecondary education administrators. They work on various institutional operations.$95,410
Elementary, Middle or High School PrincipalPrincipals are in charge of schools and their operations, including school goals and professional development. They may help develop curricula and ensure that state standards are met.$96,400
Adult Literacy TeacherThese instructors work with adults of varying education levels to teach English as a Second Language (ESL), high school equivalency, or adult basic education (ABE).$54,350
Instructional CoordinatorAlso known as curriculum specialists, these professionals use their educational knowledge to evaluate, develop, and implement curricula and teaching techniques.$66,290
LibrarianLibrarians can play many roles depending on their workplace and specialties. They help people conduct research and access information and resources.$59,050
School and Career CounselorSchool counselors can work at all institutional levels to help students with academic, social, and emotional issues. Career counselors can also be found in postsecondary institutions and some high schools. They help students determine and plan for their careers.$57,040

5 Non-Teaching Jobs You Can Get with an Education Degree

Although an education degree is often viewed as synonymous with a teaching career, there are other opportunities the degree opens doors to. Here are just a few of the jobs you can get outside of the classroom with a degree in education.

Job TitleJob DescriptionSalary Potential
Writer or Editor Because an education degree is heavy in reading, writing, and communication, a career as a writer or editor can an obvious choice for individuals who decide the teaching route isn’t for them. This can be an especially fitting choice for those who’ve trained to be English teachers. $63,200
Curriculum Designer For individuals who find they prefer to create teaching plans rather than teach them, curriculum design is a perfect choice. These professionals develop educational programs and instructional materials for schools, organizations, and companies.  $59,715
Technical Writer While you may need to take a course a technical writing beforehand, this is a skill that’s in high demand that not everyone excels in. Using the writing skills developed from your education degree, you’ll draft user guides, manuals, and white papers for companies large and small.  $59,841
Test Developer Test developers create and revise exams from public school standardized testing to career certification exams. Because those with an education degree have firsthand experience creating lessons plans and meeting standardized testing demands, this is a smart route to take. $70,000
Educational Nonprofit Employee Educational nonprofit organizations are increasingly important to the U.S. public school system. From direct student support to fundraising and lobbying, there are a wide range of jobs in this field for education majors and individuals can still expect to make a difference to the life of students in a less direct, but still important way. $60,000

Where Can You Work with a Degree in Education?

An education degree can open doors to a variety of teaching and administrative careers in several different settings. Let’s take a look at where you can work with an education degree.

Preschools

Preschool teachers and assistant teachers typically work with children between three and five years old. Preschool teachers are not only responsible for students’ academic development, but social and emotional development, too. A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and development can be helpful in catering to the specific developmental needs of this age group.

Preschool administrators may develop curricula, organize staff training, and manage their school’s operations. Administrators typically need teaching experience and well-developed leadership skills, which can be pursued through bachelor’s and master’s education programs.

Kindergartens & Elementary Schools

Middle Schools

High Schools

Colleges & Universities

Libraries

Earning Your Degree in Education

Earning a degree in education can prepare you for a wide range of careers, not just teaching. Education degrees can be essential to those interested in curriculum development, and they provide a solid foundation for those seeking leadership roles in education, like principals and other administrators. A degree in education can also give prospective school counselors unique insights into the psychology of their students and the issues they face in school and beyond.

However, if you are looking at becoming a teacher, a degree in education isn’t your only option; all states offer alternative paths to teaching. Future administrators, counselors, librarians, and other teaching-adjacent professionals can explore a range of degree options as well. Below are some different degrees you can look into if you’re considering a career in education.

Education & Teaching Degrees

Education degrees can provide a general, holistic education preparation, or they may branch off into specialties that can help you sharpen skills and deepen knowledge specific to your professional areas of interest. This list of degree options is by no means exhaustive but can give you an idea of the different types of education and teaching degrees that may be available to you.

Early Childhood Education

This degree typically focuses on development and education of children from infancy to eight years old and offers instruction in lesson planning, child development, organization, language and literacy acquisition, and creating an inclusive and dynamic classroom.

Elementary Education

Elementary education degrees can help prepare early career teachers and field newbies to work in K-8 settings. In an elementary education program, you may gain leadership skills, teaching and lesson planning practice, and an understanding of the developmental needs of young learners.

Secondary Education

Secondary education degrees aim to prepare teachers to work in high schools. Depending on the level and type of secondary education degree, you may focus on the content area you wish to teach while getting your education training, or if you already have a major in a content area, your degree may focus wholly on secondary education theory and practice.

Special Education

A degree in special education can help prepare you to work with students who may have a range of disabilities that affect their learning. You can gain skills in behavior assessment and management, intervention, language acquisition, and effective teaching techniques for different students.

Education Leadership and Administration

These degrees may focus on either pre-K-12 or postsecondary leadership and administration. They aim to give education professionals in-depth knowledge on leading and organizing educational institutions. Some prepare graduates to earn a certified principal credential.

School Counseling

Through student-focused psychology and counseling theory and practice, school counseling degree programs often aim to prepare students to sit for their school counselor licensure exams.

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

These education degrees hone in on second language acquisition and different teaching theories and practices for English learners of various language backgrounds. Programs often dive into teaching skills, linguistics, and cultural awareness.

Where Can You Earn an Education Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is required to gain licensure as a teacher and most education careers require a four-year degree at minimum. Some two-year colleges offer university transfer teacher training programs, so you can start your teaching education at a community college and matriculate to a four-year college to finish up.

Depending on your intended career path, you may earn a bachelor’s degree in a focus subject, like English, and get a teaching certificate or Master’s in Education if you want to, for instance, become an English teacher. There are many types of education degrees and certificates to pursue, so contact your school’s education department to learn about different degree options that may be available to you. An academic or career advisor can help you determine which degree or sequence of degrees can help lead you to the career you want.

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Can You Earn an Education Degree Online?

There are plenty of fully online and hybrid education degree programs available to students looking for some flexibility. You can find online bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and post-bac certificates covering a wide range of education specializations and foundations alike. Online education programs with a teaching focus often require a hands-on teaching practicum, which is done in person. Advanced degrees typically require a capstone, thesis, or other research project, which you may need to present in person at the end of your program.

Learn more about the numerous online education degrees available and find schools that may be a good fit for you by checking out our vetted online education and teaching degree programs.

What Skills Will You Learn with a Degree in Education?

  • Communication: Learn how to convey ideas and concepts effectively to students, parents, administrators, and other staff verbally and through writing.
  • Empathy: Working with and understanding students, families, and other educators can develop your empathy, which is essential in creating a safe and trusting educational environment.
  • Lesson planning: Education degrees offer a lot of practice in creating lesson plans and activities that meet various parameters and outcomes.
  • Working with different populations: Education careers often involve working with people from all sorts of backgrounds. Degree programs can help you understand and effectively work with different types of people.
  • Leadership: Leadership is at the core of many education careers, from classroom teaching to district-wide curriculum development.
  • Flexibility: Education degrees can help you learn how to gracefully and effectively adapt to plan changes.
  • Pedagogy: Teaching theories and practices through various cultural, social, and political lenses are covered extensively in most education programs.
  • Curriculum development: Prospective teachers, administrators, and counselors may all gain curriculum development skills to better serve different student populations.
  • Psychology: Understanding how students, families, and educators think and feel is key to effective education and is typically covered in education degree programs.
  • Observation: Education majors will hone their observation skills, which is helpful in classroom management, lesson planning, assessing goals and offering appropriate support to learners and staff.

Education & Teaching Career Resources

Association of American Educators 
This non-union professional organization of educators throughout the U.S. aims to further the teaching and education fields through support and advocacy for education professionals. Members can get tuition discounts through partnering universities and grants for classroom supplies and professional development.

American School Counselor Association (ASCA) 
Access information, resources, and tools for effective school counseling, and connect with other school counselors through ASCA SCENE, a professional social networking platform for school counselors.

AASA, The School Superintendents Association 
Prospective school superintendents can get involved with a national network of professionals, access education and professional development resources and check out journals, newsletters and magazines to stay up on current issues in education administration.

American Association of University Administrators 
This professional organization is the only one in the country that caters to higher education professionals interested in all levels of higher education administration and management. Members can participate in leadership summits and fellowships.

Education Week and Education Week Teacher 
Stay up-to-date on topics in education and teaching. Also use EdWeek’s job search tool to find education careers in your area.

National Association of Elementary School Principals 
Get an inside look into what it’s like to be an elementary school principal and join this national network of professionals to access education, professional development and school improvement resources.

National Association of Secondary School Principals 
Connect through online communities for secondary school principals, advocate for national policy reform, keep track of education news special topics through the NASSP School of Thought blog.

National Education Association (NEA) 
Access a ton of education resources and tools, like lesson plans and classroom management ideas and read up on current issues and events in education. NEA’s Aspiring Educators Program can offer additional support to education students, too.

Teach.org 
Teach.org is a nonprofit that provides extensive information and resources to help educators at all stages in their careers and educations. Access how-to guides, region-specific information and career path navigation tools.

TeachAde 
TeachAde provides educational resources for teachers and offers opportunities for educators to connect online, create their own professional groups, and organizations and contribute their lesson plans and activities to the TeachAde community.