Finding the best online education for you

There are many paths to joining the education workforce. The best path for you will depend on a variety of factors including your educational background, location, interests, and your motivation to make a difference in education. To become licensed as a teacher, learners must study pedagogy, methodology, and techniques to provide them with a comprehensive knowledge of teaching. Most education programs incorporate classes on the philosophy of education, psychology of learning, and technology in the classroom into their courses of study.

Finding time to fit in all of this learning can be difficult, particularly if you are working part- or full-time. Online degree programs can be a great way to advance one’s education without sacrificing income or having to relocate. Whether you are an aspiring teacher seeking the credentials to start your career or an educator trying to make the leap into administration to enact change, has the resources to assist you in achieving your goals.

Types of online degrees for teachers

Depending on how far you want to take your career in education, there are a variety of degree options that can help you. For those looking to make a difference in the classroom and positively affect students’ lives, a Master of Art in Teaching (MAT), Master of Science in Teaching, or a Master of Education (ME) might be a study option. For those looking to address change at a higher level or contribute to education administration, a Doctorate in Education might be the right fit. These degrees can be completed online, providing a convenient option for full-time employees who cannot take time away from work to attend school.

Learn a little more about each degree option below:

Master of Arts in Teaching online (MAT online)

The Master of Arts in Teaching online (MAT online) is a degree designed for both current and prospective K-12 teachers looking to obtain an initial license or advance their career in education. Many MAT online programs offer specializations within the field of education, including special education and childhood education, allowing learners to concentrate their studies on a passion area.

Read more about online Master of Arts in Teaching programs.

Online Doctorate in Education (EdD)

For people in the education sector that work full-time but wish to bolster their credentials in pursuit of career advancement, specifically towards a career in high-level administration or policy, an online EdD might be a great option. An online EdD delivers high-quality coursework and content through a blend of online interactions and real-world experiences aimed at creating well-versed and informed social innovators in the education sphere.

Read more about online Doctorate of Education programs.

Online Master of Science in Teaching (MST)

An online Master of Science in Teaching is a degree program specifically designed for learners seeking their initial teaching certification. Online MST programs can be great for someone who does not have a background in education but is looking to make a career change or begin their career within the field.

Read more about online Master of Science in Teaching programs.

Master of Education in School Counseling

An online Master of Education (ME) is a graduate degree that is generally geared towards current and aspiring teachers and school professionals who are looking to advance their careers within the field of education. Online ME programs (also referred to as MEd, EdS, MSEd, and EdM) are typically designed for educators seeking additional certifications or individuals looking to work in the education sector outside of the classroom.

Read more about online Master of Education programs.

The online education experience

The classroom experience is the greatest differentiating factor between an online degree and an in-person one. Many people might assume that an online degree is an impersonal approach to education, featuring less interaction with peers and professors, but this is not always the case. In many ways, a high-quality online experience can feel a lot like a traditional one. Some elements of an online education experience include virtual live classes using a webcam, a learning management system for discussions and assignment access, interactive course content designed by university faculty, and access to tech support to assist learners.

Some key components to look for when selecting an online degree program that works for you are:

Synchronous learning

Synchronous learning, in the world of online education, refers to classes that take place in real-time. These live classes bridge the gap between in-person and online programs and make the learning experience as interactive and engaging as possible.

Access to tech support

A strong technical support team is essential, particularly considering the time-sensitive nature of many assignments and the complexities that could come with navigating a learning management system.

Offline and mobile access

Mobile access to coursework and lectures can be very helpful and provide learners with the greatest flexibility for their learning experience. This, along with offline access to course materials via a mobile app, can assist in enabling learners to succeed while enrolled in an online program.

Small virtual classrooms

While in a traditional university program you may be attending lectures in halls with dozens of peers, many online programs cap the sizes of live classes. This can help ensure that each learner gains a community of peers to work with and guarantees face-to-face interaction with the professor of each course.

Careers in education

Many careers fall within the education field. Besides obvious paths like teachers and school administrators, those with an interest in making a difference in education can also become library and media specialists, school counselors, speech pathologists, and many other things. The job market for each of these career paths varies, but there are many careers in the education sector — everybody needs an education.

Below are snapshots of possible careers in education:

Careers in teaching

Teacher salaries can vary widely depending on subject area, education level, and school setting, but are typically dependent on years of experience. Here are a few examples of the median annual wage for teachers in a variety of settings as of 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

State teacher certification requirements

Find out how to earn your teacher certification and become a teacher in your state by selecting your state from the list below and exploring what it takes to become an educator. Each state has a wide variety of teaching statistics and information on roles, salaries, career trajectory, and state-specific requirements. Find your state and learn more about what it takes to become a teacher:

Careers in school administration

School administrators, such as principals, are projected to experience little to no growth in the field from 2022 to 2032, according to the BLS. To get a better grasp on what a career in school administration might look like, here are examples of median school administrator wages as of 2022:

Careers in school libraries

School librarians are a vital part of the education system. Employment of librarians and library media specialists is projected to grow 3% between 2022 and 2032, according to the BLS. Although salary information for librarians varies by employment setting and location, here are examples of a few librarian median annual wages as of 2022:

  • Elementary and secondary school librarians: $62,910
  • Local government-employed librarians: $58,330
  • College, university, and professional school librarians: $63,970

Careers in school counseling

Employment for school and career counselors is expected to grow 5% from 2022 to 2032, according to the BLS. Salary potential for school counselors varies by location of the school and the counselor’s years of experience in the field. Some examples of annual mean wages of school counseling professionals, as of 2022, include:

  • Elementary and secondary school counselors: $72,190
  • Educational support services: $62,330

Careers in behavioral analysis

Behavior analysts work in schools, homes, and in clinical settings to provide support to people with autism and other disorders. Employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is projected to grow 18% from 2022 to 2032, according to the BLS. Salary information for behavior analysts varies greatly by employment setting and location. Below are examples of a few median annual wages for behavior analysts and related careers, as of 2022:

Learn more about becoming a behavior analyst and ABA degree programs for those interested in the field.

Careers in school social work

The primary duty of social workers who work in a school setting is to help ensure the overall well-being of students in their school, homelife, and community. Child, family, and school social workers are expected to experience 5% growth in employment between 2022 and 2032, according to the BLS. Here are a few examples of mean annual wages for social workers as of 2022:

  • Elementary and secondary school social workers: $67,990
  • Individual and family services social worker: $48,720
  • Social advocacy organization social workers: $47,920

Learn more about becoming a school social worker and earning MSW degrees to help you get there.

Careers in occupational therapy

Occupational therapists help students regain and maintain performance of activities required in daily life. The growth outlook for the field is much faster than other occupations, with an expected 12% increase in employment for occupational therapists between 2022 and 2032, according to the BLS. Here are a few examples of median annual wages for occupational therapists and related careers as of 2022:

Last updated December 2023