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As the workplace rapidly changes, it is becoming more and more common for adults to further their education in order to enhance their skills and move forward in their careers. As a result, the need for adult education teachers is increasing.

Adult education programs prepare students for the unique challenges of being an educator so they can teach adult learners in different settings such as colleges or universities, government agencies, corporate training centers, or community centers.

Overview of Adult Education Degrees

Students enrolled in an adult education degree program can expect to learn about pedagogical theories related to adult learners, how to teach adult students in classroom and online settings, developing a curriculum for adult education courses and the best practices for delivering educational content to adult learners.

The core curriculum for adult education degree programs typically includes these kinds of courses:

  • Adult Learning Theory: The key concepts of adult learning theory, its history and the thinkers who have made important contributions to the field. Topics addressed include how to motivate adult learners, the ethical concerns associated with teaching adults, workplace learning, curriculum development and the factors that influence how adults learn.
  • Adult Education Methods: How to provide education to adult learners in a variety of settings such as community education programs, community colleges and workplace training and development courses. This class also covers different styles of learning and how they relate to teaching methods, how to create a classroom environment conducive to adult learning and how to deliver coursework online.
  • Instructional Design: The best practices for creating a course curriculum for adult learners. Subjects of this class include how to best engage students online or in a classroom environment; the methods, trends and theories of instructional design and how to use assessments to determine if an instructional method is effective.

Additionally, students in these programs on the graduate level may be required to complete a master's thesis or dissertation.

Adult Education Career Outlook

Students who earn a degree in adult education have a wide range of potential career options available to them. Some of the jobs that these professionals can pursue include:

  • Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers: These professionals work to help adult learners with basic reading and writing skills in settings like community colleges, public schools, prisons and community organizations. Duties of these teachers include creating lesson plans, evaluating students' progress and coming up with a plan to address their weaknesses and helping students develop study skills and job search skills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees a nine percent increase in the number of positions available for these teachers between 2012 and 2022. The 2013 median salary for these jobs is around $51,110. Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers generally are required to earn at least a bachelor's degree.
  • Health Educators: Health educators work to promote wellness in government agencies, doctor's offices, private businesses, colleges and nonprofit organizations. These professionals develop health programs and educational events based on specific community needs, create educational materials and assess how effective they are, train health professionals and assist those who need information about the health services available to them. In order to pursue this career, professionals are required to have a bachelor's degree. According to 2013 numbers from the BLS the median salary for health educators was $49,310.The same BLS report stated that this career is expected to grow by 21 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Degree holders in adult education may also be able to enter careers such as instructional designer, corporate trainer and athletic coach.


"Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2014-15 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/adult-literacy-and-ged-teachers.htm
"Health Educators," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2014-15 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators.htm
"25-3011 Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers and Instructors," Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 22, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes253011.htm#%283%29
"21-1091 Health Educators," Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 22, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211091.htm

Pursue your Adult Education major today…