Online graduate education degrees come in all shapes and colors. It behooves the student to assess his/her own interests first; then to assess the strengths of the institutions from which one hopes to get a degree – whether it be statistical, special ed, etc.; and to look for an educational program which can best fulfill those goals. One should also check state licensing requirements (information on licensing requirements and approved teacher training institutions are available from local school systems and state departments of education).
Another consideration to keep in mind before determining which online institution to choose, of course, is the age group one wishes to teach. All public school teachers must be licensed to teach a specific age group, usually by the State Board of Education (it is not required in private schools, necessarily). Specific age groups are normally divided into preschool to early childhood grades; elementary grades; middle grades; and secondary. However, categories such as special subjects (i.e., music or reading) may determine the license category. Exceptions abound, one is quick to learn, depending on the area in which one wishes to teach, the subject matter, or the reciprocity agreements arranged between various states.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, one can be very optimistic about the opportunities for teachers. The percentage of teachers working over forty-five years of age in 2004 is slightly less than 50 percent; therefore, it is expected a large number of teachers will retire within the next ten years. Teacher shortages should grow, particularly in poor, urban schools. Also, enrollment in the next ten years is expected to rise, especially in the West. Being mobile and licensed in more than one subject will only add to one’s marketability. Be aware, too, that qualified teachers in such subjects as mathematics, science, bilingual education, and foreign languages will be especially scarce. Adequate numbers of qualified teachers in such fields as general elementary education, physical education and social studies education already exist and should be avoided. Teaching prospects will no doubt improve overall and it seems a very good time to consider the field as a sensible career choice, aside from just the fact that one might feel especially dedicated to the profession.
Interestingly, average 2004 yearly earning estimates compare favorably with other professions. The following are figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which can be broken down by levels taught:
- Kindergarten: $44,940
- Elementary school: $46,350
- Middle school: $47,170
- Secondary school: $48,980
For whatever reason one aspires to be an educator, it seems entirely possible to attain ones goals fairly easily due to the technology we accept as commonplace and the burgeoning number of degree programs offered by online institutions. The marriage of education and technology makes perfect sense – both for your own education as well as the education you may one day offer students in your classroom.