While an education certificate like a bachelor’s or masters in education may sound like a required step for any aspiring teacher, the reality on the ground is quite far from that. At most high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools in the country, a bachelor’s degree in any area of concentration is often sufficient to earn you a teaching job in that field.
However, many teachers do recognize the value of an education degree. Consequently, some do get their master’s in education before they start teaching or go back to school for it at some point in their career.
A master’s in education can significantly improve a teacher’s ability by affording them with up-to-date teaching methodologies and equipping them with resources and skills that make them better at their job.
Nevertheless, a top question on the minds of many aspiring teachers when considering a master’s in education is if it brings any added benefits in terms of remuneration.
Does a Master’s in Education Increase a Teacher’s Salary?
Like with most job-related questions in the United States, the answer to this inquiry is it depends.
Many U.S. school districts offer significantly higher salaries and bonuses to teachers who complete a graduate program in education; some offer only a slight, mostly inconsequential increase, while a handful of others offer no rewards at all.
Factors that influence how much a master’s in education increases your salary include:
School District Characteristics
The benefits a master’s in education adds to your take-home pay significantly depend on your state of residence, the school district you work under, and peculiarities of your school like their teachers’ budget and teachers’ salary schedule.
Furthermore, other environmental factors like the economic health of the surrounding community, their commitment to education, or the property taxes in the city neighborhood can significantly influence the reality on the ground at individual schools.
Another factor that can significantly influence how much more you earn with a master’s in education is the state of the teacher unions in your region.
Teacher unions are often responsible in part for salary increases, ensuring fair pay, and improving workplace conditions for teachers. Hence, teachers in a stronger teachers union often benefit more from master’s degrees in education and other advanced qualifications.
In teaching, like in many other fields, on-the-job experience is one of the most valuable attributes an employee can have. Consequently, irrespective of your educational qualifications, the amount of experience you have on your best often significantly impacts if you get a pay rise and how much of it you get with a master’s in education.
At most schools, even with a master’s in education, if you are fresh off the block with zero teaching experience, you typically have to start at the bottom rung of the pay ladder.
However, a master’s in education can often add significant benefits over your career, as in most school districts, teachers with graduate degrees climb the payment schedule faster than those with only bachelor’s degrees.
How Much Money is a Master’s Degree in Education Worth to Your Career
Amongst the country’s largest school districts, 88% percent give teachers who earn master’s degrees some form of increased pay. Hence, getting a master’s in education is almost guaranteed to raise a teacher’s salary.
However, as we mentioned earlier, this pay increase can vary widely from only a couple of extra thousands per year to double-digit percentage increases. Most schools choose to offer variable salary increments that depend on the teacher’s extent of experience, while few other opt instead to provide small annual stipends to master’s holders
On average, U.S. teachers with master’s degrees, including a master’s in education, earn an average of $2,700 more in their first teaching year than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees.
However, this difference can expand significantly over career lifetimes, as teachers with master’s degrees can earn north of $10,000 more annually by the time they reach the top of the payment schedule in 27 of the country’s largest school districts.
For example, in Montgomery County Public School District in Maryland, master’s degree-holding teachers at the top of the pay scale earn a whopping $36,716 than their colleagues with bachelor’s degrees.
Other Reasons to Pursue a Master’s in Education
While we have pretty much established that a master’s degree is beneficial to a teacher’s prospects, a master’s in education offers even more nuanced advantages to any United States teacher’s career.
Enhanced Teaching Skills
Without a doubt, one of the surest ways to build yourself into a better teacher is with a master’s in education. Here, teachers learn critical teaching skills, modern and advanced teaching systems, approaches to classroom management, and techniques in students’ assessment and development.
Consequently, a graduate education degree can improve your teaching skills, make better students, enhance your career prospects, and increase job satisfaction.
More Opportunities for Career Advancement
A master’s in education often also opens the door to management roles, school leadership, and community engagement. Jobs available to master’s in education holders include positions like school administrators, lead teachers, and curriculum developers. Plus, these roles often come with increased job security and more pay.
Furthermore, with these expanded career directions, you get more prominent platforms to enact positive changes in the student community to help improve their outcomes and well-being.
Increased Job Security
Funding for teachers has always been an issue in the U.S., and this can often lead to a shortage of raises, job cuts, or the shifting of teachers into part-time roles. However, irrespective of the budget conditions at your school, a master’s in education makes you more indispensable to the institution and less likely to suffer the brunt of these adverse situations.