As the standards for educators continue to increase, the demand for well-trained teachers is expected to grow. The latest research in education has produced new methods for effective teaching, and it takes formal study for educators to learn the best practices. A K-12 education degree program will prepare educators to motivate and inspire students to reach their full potential.
Courses of Study
A K-12 education degree introduces students to the theories and techniques that are needed to instruct secondary students. Educators who work with K-12 students must have an understanding of the cognitive, social, and emotional factors that impact student achievement. To instill this foundation, K-12 education degree programs typically require the following courses:
- Child Development
- Educational Psychology
- Elementary Mathematics Theory and Methods
- Language Acquisition
- Secondary Reading and Literacy
Depending on the program, K-12 education majors may be required to choose an area of focus, such as English, mathematics, science, or foreign language. In order to increase their understanding of the subject they wish to teach, K-12 education majors will complete coursework in one of these areas of specialty.
Types of K-12 Education Degrees
K-12 education majors can choose from the following types of degrees:
- Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree is rewarded after four years of study. A bachelor’s degree prepares students to become licensed teachers and qualifies graduates for entry-level positions.
Schools that do not offer a major in K-12 education may allow students to specialize in K-12 education as a concentration. A concentration allows general education majors to take the fundamental courses in K-12 education.
- <Master’s Degree in K-12 Education
Current educators and students who are switching careers may opt to pursue a master’s degree in K-12 education. Many teachers obtain a master’s degree after gaining experience in order to become eligible for promotions and raises. Aspiring teachers who already possess a bachelor’s degree can obtain a master’s degree in order to meet the requirements for licensure.
Becoming a Licensed Teacher
After completing your degree in K-12 education, you must take additional steps to become licensed to teach. While the requirements for licensure vary, most states have the following requirements for licensure:
- Accredited Degree
States require licensed teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited degree program. Before enrolling in a K-12 education degree program, it is important to make sure that it meets the accreditation standards of your state.
- Subject Knowledge Exam
The subject knowledge exam ensures that teachers are proficient in the subject that they wish to teach. A quality K-12 education degree program will prepare students to become experts in their area of specialization so they can pass the subject knowledge exams with ease.
- Background Check
Because K-12 teachers work with young students, it is important that they possess a clean criminal record. School districts require applicants to pass a thorough background check before they can be offered a teaching position. Before enrolling in a K-12 education program, prospective students should consult with an advisor if they question their eligibility for future employment.
K-12 Education Careers
According to the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, education majors earn a median income of $42K. However, location, years of experience, and level of education all influence the salary that a teacher can expect.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights the following K-12 positions:
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Median Pay: $51K
- Middle School Teachers
Median Pay: $51K
- High School Teachers
Median Pay: $53K
K-12 majors will be well prepared to teach secondary students in the specialization of their choice. A degree in K-12 education can also be a stepping-stone to a career in school administration. Regardless of the path an educator takes, their K-12 education degree will prepare them to excel in the rewarding field of education.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). Occupational Outlook Handbook – High School Teachers.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). Occupational Outlook Handbook – Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). Occupational Outlook Handbook – Middle School Teachers.
Georgetown Public Policy Institute. (2011). The Economic Value of College Majors – Education.