Job and Career Opportunities for a Master's in Adult Education

Sep 30, 2019

Master's degrees in adult education typically cover literacy, ESL, and the general learning needs of adults. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth, and salary info for adult education graduates.

Those who seek out a master's degree in adult education have a myriad of career and specialization options. Some possible career paths include becoming an adult literacy or remedial education teacher, a community college professor or a human resources training specialist.

Essential Information

A master's degree in adult education can include specialization in human resources training, adult literacy, or ESL, and will be looked upon highly in any career involving the teaching of adults, such as community college professors and those in the field of remedial education.

Career Adult Literacy/Remedial Education Teacher Community College Professor Human Resources Training Specialist and Manager
Education Requirements Master's degree in adult education (preferred) Master's Degree Master's Degree in adult education (preferred)
Job Growth (2018-2028)* -10% for adult literacy and high school diploma equivalency teachers 11% for post-secondary teachers 5% for human resources specialists; 7% for human resources managers
Median Salary (2018)* $53,6630 for adult literacy and high school diploma equivalency teachers $65,660 for all post-secondary teachers $60,880 for human resources specialists; $113,330 for human resources managers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

An adult education master's degree is often a prerequisite for human resources managers, who aid in the execution of job site training and the development of skill-teaching workplace programs. The degree is also often necessary for adult literacy and remedial education teachers, who teach high school-level courses to adults and english language skills to adult immigrants looking to develop their literacy. While not required, an adult education master's is helpful to those seeking employment as a community college professor, who gain enhanced knowledge of adult learning through the degree program.

Adult Literacy and Remedial Education Teacher

These teachers provide instruction to diverse populations in basic academic and language skills required for employment and for further education. They teach GED preparation and high school completion classes to all ages of adults, English as a Second Language (ESL) to immigrants and adult basic education (ABE) to adults who need to develop numeracy and literacy.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projected job growth for this field between 2018 and 2028 is -10%. Job opportunities in adult remedial education and ESL depend upon budgetary issues as well as immigration policy and patterns.

Community College Professor

In addition to young adults beginning their college and vocational careers, older adults seeking to change or advance in their fields are attracted to community colleges. Community college instructors must establish expertise in their field and/or have a minimum of a master's degree in the area they teach. Because competition for post-secondary education positions is intense, the additional credentials of a graduate degree in adult education can enhance the applicant's chances of success. Knowledge of adult learning styles and needs in particular is an asset that helps community college instructors compete for positions.

Increased college enrollment is creating job growth for post-secondary instructors projected by the BLS to be 11% from 2018-2028. Because of high competition, however, most opportunities are part-time positions without the possibility of tenure.

Job and Career Opportunities for a Master of Education in Adult Education and Human Resource Development

Although a bachelor's degree is the minimum entry-level requirement for many positions, a master's is often necessary for career advancement. Many adult education graduate programs offer specific programs for those interested in a career in human resources training. Sample core courses for this specialization include adult learning and instruction, the roles of gender and race in the workplace, human resources development and organizational development.

Human Resources Training Specialist and Manager

Human resources specialists and managers are often responsible for organizing, implementing and evaluating jobsite training. Training specialists assess training needs and develop programs that are designed to teach new skills within a job category as well as to provide workers a means of advancing to higher levels of responsibility. Though learning may take place in traditional classrooms, training is increasingly provided through a variety of digital media. Job growth for human resources specialists is expected to be a little faster than average, according to the BLS, at 5% between 2018 and 2028. Human resources managers can expect to see 7% job increase during that time.

While a master's in adult education is not a requirement for all of the career paths discussed above, it can help make candidates more competitive and give them specialized knowledge that can help them to stand out. For some career paths, such human resources specialist, a master's degree is preferred. Ultimately, a master's degree in adult education can open many doors for interested candidates.

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