Career Info for a Degree in Teaching Adult Education

May 13, 2021

Adult education teachers are required to have a bachelor's degree. Some employers may also prefer hiring those with a teaching certificate or license.

Essential Information

Adult education teachers might instruct adult-age students through a school's education program or a corporation's human resources or workforce development program. Many adult education programs take place in the evenings or weekends. To work in an adult education school, most states require that a teacher have a degree and be licensed, though some less formal education programs do not require formal training, instead relying on a teacher's field experience.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Some states require a teaching certificate or license
Mean Annual Wage (2020)* $59,810 (for adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers and instructors)
Projected Job Outlook (2019-2029)* -10% (for adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes adult education teachers as either adult literacy and remedial education teachers or self-enrichment educators. Adult literacy and remedial education teachers are further sub-divided into adult basic educators, adult secondary educators or English literacy developers.

Adult Education Career Options

Adult basic educators teach students with lower than eighth-grade education levels, while adult secondary educators teach students with education levels above the eighth grade who are seeking the equivalent of a high school diploma. Both types of teachers provide instruction in math, reading and writing. English literacy developers assist non-native English speakers to become fluent in English. Self-enrichment educators provide instruction on topics that students find fun or interesting, such as photography, painting, personal finance or writing. These courses may not provide college credit.

Work Locations

Adult educators can work in education centers, corporate human resource departments or community centers. Educators who work for a business or corporation may provide staff development classes, corporate training programs or in-service training seminars. Community center employees may work in community development, provide community members with job training or offer self-enrichment instruction in a particular subject area.

Degree and Certification Options

Most adult educators must have a formal education in order to teach. Associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees in adult education are available. These programs focus on topics like adult learning behaviors, psychology, human behavior and development, instructional design, adult education methods, workforce development and program planning.

Students are also expected to take courses in the subject area they expect to teach. Graduate-level certificate programs are available, and some programs offer classes online. Not all degree or certificate programs prepare students for teaching licensure.

Some adult educators, like self-enrichment teachers, don't need to have formal training or certification. Experience in the topic they teach is often enough, though some subjects require teachers to have a portfolio or other evidence of their field expertise.


The BLS reports that many states require adult education teachers to have a postsecondary degree and be licensed to teach. Although the specific teaching licensure requirements differ by state, employer and job title, most require an individual to have at least a bachelor's degree in a particular subject area, complete teacher training courses and pass a licensing exam.

Career and Economic Outlook for Adult Education Teachers

According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers was $59,810 as of 2020. The BLS also reported that employment of adult literacy and GED teachers was expected to decline by 10% between 2019 and 2029.

A career in adult education may involve teaching adults with less than a grade 8 education, while others provide courses to help students finish their high school equivalency. Adult educators also teach enrichment classes in subjects such as photography, painting or writing.

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