Teaching is, no doubt, a noble career. If you’re drawn to this job, what education do you need in order to enter the field or perform your duties to the best of your ability? Understanding what’s required of you to enter education and the differences between a Master of Education vs Master of Arts (MAT) can help you plan out your own education timeline
What Education and Credentials Do Teachers Need?
The education required for teachers depends entirely on the state in question. Some, such as New York, usually require you to have a Master’s within five years of their initial degree. Other states, however, may only require you to have a bachelor’s. And a couple don’t even require you to have a degree at all.
States may also have specific requirements for your education, too. You may be required to major in education, for example. You will also have to hold teaching certifications in order to enter the field.
Master of Education (MEd) vs Master of Teaching (MAT)
While a master’s degree isn’t required in many states in order to be a teacher, it’s not a bad investment. You will definitely need one if you’re planning on increasing your earning potential or becoming an administrator.
But as you enter your graduate program, you’re faced with a choice: a Master of Education (MEd) or Master of Art in Teaching (MAT)? Here’s a rundown of the differences and how you can identify the best one for your goals.
Master of Art in Teaching (MAT Degree)
A MAT is a degree meant for current teachers who want to advance or improve their career within the teaching profession. Most programs require or strongly encourage teachers to have at least 2 to 5 years of teaching experience before starting. The program and curriculum will focus on advanced teaching, classroom management skills, theories, and strategies. There can also be specializations that are focused on particular subjects such as math, reading, or history.
The main benefits of a MAT, outside of the skills you’ll learn, are the facts that it can lead to a higher salary and better job opportunities.
Master of Education (MEd Degree)
A MEd on the other hand is a degree that is usually used to enter a career in education management or administration and isn’t for those who plan on staying in a classroom setting. Students pursuing their MEd can come from a number of backgrounds, and the classes themselves focus on educational management, planning, legal issues, technology integration, and more. Areas of focus are also available and can cover specializations including technology management, special education, or counseling.
Should You Pursue a MEd or a MAT?
The basic question to ask yourself when you’re pursuing your master’s is “What career goals do I have in education?” This will give you your answer!
1. Do You Want to Continue Teaching?
If you’d like to continue teaching and increase your earning potential, a MAT is going to be the best route for you! In most instances, a teacher with a few years of experience can earn significantly more by obtaining a MAT. However, this isn’t always the case, and your earning potential can vary from state to state. But in Illinois, for instance, teachers with a master’s degree will earn about 41% more, on average, than those with just a bachelor’s.
In states where a master’s isn’t required can have limited availability and funds for more educated teachers.
If you’re looking to advance your education in teaching, it is worth your time to research salaries and job availability in your state before starting a master’s program.
2. Do You Want to Enter Education Management or Administration?
If you want to be involved in education, but not be in the classroom, you might be a good candidate for an MEd. Whether you’ve spent time teaching or not, an MEd can prepare you for a career in the education field and with a variety of specialization options. Everyone from school counselors to principals and technology directors have often obtained an MEd degree.
3. Do You Want to Research or Create Policies for Education?
Of course, there is a third route when it comes to education. If you’re interested in research, education policy, and education reform, a MEd helps you achieve those career goals. Many school districts, local and state governments, and federal agencies are involved in the research, assessment, and policy that goes into measuring and improving our education system. An MEd can advance your career here.
There are definitely pros and cons to teaching, working in administration, or creating policies in government for education. It’s important to give careful thought to your education and career goals before diving into a graduate program. But starting with knowing the differences between the degrees will definitely be a good diving off point.
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