Individuals wishing to pursue teaching via a non-traditional route are given the option of obtaining a master's degree in education or completing an alternative certification program (ACP). Master's degree curriculum includes classroom management, child development, curriculum and lesson planning coursework. Advanced coursework is available in specific subjects students want to teach. These programs usually call for about 36-39 credit hours and thesis projects are generally required. In an ACP, students focus on education courses, not on teaching a particular subject. These programs generally consist of about 30 credit hours with many programs offering evening and weekend classes. Courses cover curriculum development, special education, teaching methods and pedagogy. Students in either program must complete a student teaching practicum and state certification exams, which are required for state certification and teaching licensure. A bachelor's degree is required for both programs.
Master's Degree in Education
Many schools offer Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree programs for aspiring teachers. Some programs cover broad topics like early childhood education or elementary education, while others emphasize instructing particular academic subjects to secondary school students. Those enrolled in one of these programs usually complete a student teaching internship as part of their coursework. Students interested in teaching a particular subject need to demonstrate aptitude for it in their previous coursework. The classes in education master's degree programs cover practical and theoretical concepts in classroom management, pedagogy, curricula design and academic assessment. Students wanting to specialize in a subject need to take advanced courses as part of their degree program. The topics in the following list are usually required:
- Educational theory
- Behavior control methods
- Differentiated instruction
- Lesson planning
- Multicultural education theory
Alternative Certification Program
All states allow teachers to become certified through alternative certification programs (ACP). ACPs teach the skills needed to instruct all student populations without focusing on specific academic subjects. Most ACPs offer evening and weekend courses, allowing people with full-time employment to participate. Programs typically require students to complete supervised teaching or observation internships prior to graduation. ACPs cover most of the same topics as education degree programs in a few condensed sessions. These programs can take as little as 30 hours to complete. Students learn about the topics including:
- Special education
- Classroom management
- Educational assessment
- Curricula design
Popular Career Options
People who earn a master's degree in education qualify for many teaching and administrative positions. Graduates can work in public or private schools at the primary or secondary levels. The following careers are popular options:
- Kindergarten teacher
- High school math teacher
- Private school teacher
Employment outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted job growth of 6% for kindergarten and elementary school teachers between 2014 and 2024, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. High school teachers were also expected to see growth at 6% during the same decade. As of May 2015, the BLS reported the median annual pay rate for kindergarten teachers was $51,640. Elementary school educators earned a median of $54,890 per year. Middle school teachers reportedly earned a median annual salary of $55,860, while the median for secondary school educators was $57,200 per year.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Students who graduate from one of these master's degree programs must pass state teacher certification tests. Private school teachers usually don't need to meet the same licensure standards as those who teach public school. ACP students aren't certified to teach after graduation, but they are prepared to take state teaching certification tests. Most states require ACP graduates to take a general pedagogy test and those interested in teaching a certain subject must usually take a test in that subject.
Those with non-education backgrounds can become teachers by acquiring a master's degree or alternative teaching certification that provide them with a solid foundation. Individuals in these programs will learn how to teach students from a number of background and be prepared for state certification tests.