Teachers are generally not required to have a Master’s in Education in the United States, but educators across the country do recognize the value of an advanced degree. It’s never a bad idea to go to graduate school, whether you’re pursuing a Master’s in Teaching or in another area.
Graduate school is an excellent opportunity to explore your options as a teacher and to learn more thoroughly about what interests you. Many states require their secondary school teachers to have a Bachelor’s degree in the subject they are teaching, and having a Master’s in that subject is even more enticing to potential employers. A Master’s degree carries a lot of weight in the teaching job market and those who have their Master’s are regarded as experts in their field. Also, a Master’s is the basic requirement for teaching at the college or university level.
Pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or a Master’s of Education (ME) can also help make you a better teacher. These degrees focus on teaching somebody how to be a teacher, with heavy emphasis on pedagogy, teaching methods, philosophy of education, and educational technology.
Whereas an undergraduate degree gives you knowledge of a certain subject, an MAT or an ME teaches you how to impart that knowledge on your students. Advanced degrees in teaching also incorporate experience. You’ll have the opportunity to teach in a classroom setting, under the supervision of an experienced teacher, while pursuing your degree. That way, when you graduate, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what it takes to become a teacher.
Schools need highly qualified, expert teachers to improve the quality of education, and an advanced degree tells a school you are a valuable, knowledgeable teacher that will have a positive impact on your students. Earning a Master’s in Education or Master of Arts in Teaching is also an excellent networking tool. As you go through your graduate career, you meet people who are experts in their field, can impart wisdom and can even connect you with exciting opportunities. Students pursuing their MAT or ME meet a lot of people during their semesters as student teachers. Some may go on to work at the schools they taught in once they graduate, and building a relationship with the teacher who mentors you can also open a lot of doors.
Once a teacher is employed, there is much more mobility that comes with a Master's. Teachers with advanced degrees can be promoted to school administration positions, and can become mentors to other teachers based upon specific graduate training. Perhaps most appealing is the compensation for teachers with advanced degrees. Some schools will pay a teacher more for having a Master’s or a Doctorate, and some will even reimburse them for continuing their education.
Overall, getting a Master’s degree is an excellent way to enrich and advance your teaching career. It establishes you as an expert teacher, and increases your job opportunities, as well as the benefits you receive once you have a job. But an advanced teaching degree will also help your students in many ways, by preparing you to be the best teacher you can be, and ensuring that your students learn the most from you that they can.