What Do Education Majors Study?
Education majors participate in a rigorous process of fieldwork and observation. Most education degree programs require hands-on experience in classroom settings. Therefore, nearly every education major preparing for a career in elementary or secondary teaching takes advantage of student teaching programs and mentoring opportunities.
Aspiring college professors work as teaching assistants, leading discussions while helping tenured faculty with advanced research. Education majors hoping to apply their skills in the private sector enjoy the real-world knowledge they gain from internship placements.
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Some education students specialize in fields like science or mathematics, so they can obtain the advanced skills and certifications required to teach those subjects. Most education majors enroll in a broad sample of liberal arts electives, so they can enjoy maximum flexibility throughout their careers.
Finally, education majors benefit from an emphasis on developing strong communication skills. Students learn not only to communicate more effectively with children, but to understand communication techniques for adult learners, anxious parents, and the developmentally challenged. Methods like active listening and nonverbal communication improve an educator's effectiveness when speaking with children in a classroom, as well as with adults in a parent-teacher conference or even a school board meeting.
Online degree programs in education have become increasingly popular for a wide variety of students. They meet the needs of working adults who want to enter education from a different field, and teachers with bachelor's degrees who are required to earn master's degrees within a certain period of time.
What Jobs Are Hot in Education?
Buoyed by a wave of expanded funding and government mandates, schools across the country plan to hire a record number of special education teachers over the next decade. Our stronger understanding of learning disabilities qualifies many more pupils than ever before to participate in special education programs--children who previously would not have enjoyed such benefits.
Along similar lines, schools' increased reliance on standardized test scores has intersected with parents' desire for their children to achieve placement in prestigious schools at all age levels. Therefore, education majors can expect a thriving market for child development specialists, both within existing school systems and at privately-owned coaching facilities.
Many private tutoring companies actively seek education majors with high SAT scores to share their success strategies with client families. Education majors who enter this exploding market can expect some innovative, non-traditional pay structures, including significant bonuses based on their pupils' performance.Meanwhile, in the private sector, Fortune 500 companies recruit education majors to help them tell stories more effectively within their companies and to the general public.
Expect to see more education majors--especially those with concentrated studies in communications, journalism or mathematics --popping up as policy analysts, public relations specialists and corporate strategists. Education majors already hold a surprisingly high number of jobs in mass media as writers, producers, and reporters.
Education majors also populate another high-growth area: executive coaching and corporate training. Instead of hunting for external talent, many successful businesses seek to grow superstars from within. Education majors who thrive in a business setting will enjoy this exciting and lucrative niche.
Finally, budget crunches at many traditional colleges and universities, combined with the rise of online degree programs, have created a significant opportunity for education majors with broad interests. Every higher learning institution relies more heavily on adjunct faculty than ever before, with some experts teaching courses at multiple institutions. In some cases, an adjunct professor can earn more money teaching online than a tenure-track professor earns at a typical four-year college.
Why Should You Consider a College Major in Education?
In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated there were 8.5 million people employed in the education, training and library occupations in the U.S. These folks worked in elementary and secondary schools, junior colleges, universities, trade schools and childcare programs, and their salaries ranged from $21,040 to $88,190. The highest-paid jobs were available for 1.2 million educators in the college, university and professional school level, where the annual mean wage is $75,890. Jobs for teachers in elementary schools, middle schools and kindergartens is expected to grow at an average pace of 12 percent through 2022, but jobs for high school teachers were expected to grow by half as much.
With greater demand for teaching skills in the business community, many education majors can expect to take on numerous challenging, rewarding opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. Furthermore, as millions of baby boomer teachers reach retirement age, there will be a huge teacher shortage--perfect conditions for the newly minted education degree holder.
What Kinds of Candidates Make the Best Education Majors?
Experienced educators can tell you that a career as a teacher, as a trainer, or even as an educational administrator requires patience, practice and commitment to lifelong learning. Even expert educators find themselves in challenging moments with students, with parents, and with their own colleagues. Education majors can enhance their own patience by learning communication, mediation, and relaxation skills over the course of their training.
Our history, our culture, and our understanding of the world around us expand daily. Therefore, education majors should expect their training to continue long after they receive their diploma. An education professional's lifelong learning includes the opportunity to try new teaching styles, the integration of new material into course curricula, and the challenges of adapting to the demands of new generations of students. To support this growth, many employers emphasize opportunities for ongoing certification and professional development, including exciting programs like foreign exchanges, online college courses, research publications, and external residencies.
What You Can Expect From Our Guide to Education Majors
Take your time to explore our profiles of specific education majors. Even in a strong field like education, different specializations allow you to focus your career and gain valuable skills. Each profile shows you some ways that education majors can turn a specialty into a worthwhile career.
As you review the profile for each major, we will share our insight on:
- The benefits of choosing that major
- Some of the potential careers you can pursue
- Any of the requirements necessary to launch a career in that field
- How you can take advantage of online degree programs to study from anywhere, often on your own schedule
"25-0000 Education, Training, and Library Occupations (Major Group)," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes250000.htm
"High School Teachers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm
"Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm