What Can I Do with a Degree in Education?

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in education. Find information on education career opportunities, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers in education and teaching.


Educational services represent a sizable industry that includes all aspects of education ranging from compulsory to higher education, administration, tutoring and support services. Data indicates that educational services is the second largest industry in the US with more than 13.5 million individuals employed in this discipline as of 2008. Generally speaking, educational services is a highly specialized field that requires at least a bachelor’s degree for obtaining a job. In many instances an advanced degree (Masters or Doctoral) will be required for career progression.

An examination of the educational services industry demonstrates that because education is compulsory for all individuals until the age of 16, most of the positions in the field are filled by educators working in elementary, middle and high schools. Professionals working in this segment of the industry provide education support in public, parochial, charter and private schools. After completing compulsory education, many students seek post-secondary education via universities, colleges, professional schools and career or technical institutions. Education provided in these facilities is geared toward specific academic or technical subjects to help graduates obtain a particular job. Post-secondary education can include achievement of: a two year associate degree, a four year bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and/or a doctoral degree. Additionally, career or technical institutions that provide training in a particular area may provide graduates with a certificate for career advancement. Beyond providing instruction in the classroom, educational services professionals may also work in administrative positions (think school principal or superintendent), developing curriculum or establishing educational policy.


Information provided regarding the scope of the educational services field does indicate that there are specific areas for career selection. Individuals wishing to work in compulsory education may seek a bachelor’s degree in education to work in the classroom with students. Individuals seeking careers in higher education will require a master’s or doctoral degree. Further, individuals may also seek positions in educational services administration. These positions are also typically held by degreed professionals. While some administrative positions can be held by individuals with a bachelor’s degree, most require a master’s degree or higher for employment.

While educators and administrators comprise most of the current positions available in the educational service sector, a small number of positions are available for educators to work in politics and policy development. State Boards of Education require qualified educators to provide support for curriculum development and to provide a backbone for the development of compulsory education. Individuals that are hired into these positions typically posses an advanced degree along with several years of experience in the educational service sector. Professionals with this type of experience may also be qualified to work as administrators in colleges and universities. College presidents and deans not only provide educational support for institutions of higher education but also these professionals are responsible for managing operations in these facilities.


In general, salaries for professionals working in educational services are higher than for other occupations. Higher salaries are primarily due to the level of education required to hold these positions. Teacher salaries increase based on the educator’s level of education and the number of years of experience obtained. Salary trends in the industry indicate that post-secondary teachers (university professors) who work full-time command the highest salaries, followed by full-time compulsory educators. Educational support personnel who provide additional services in the classroom are often not classified as full-time employees and have the lowest salaries in educational services. A review of the median annual wages for these professions are as follows: full-time post-secondary educators, $61,500; high school teachers, $51,230; middle school teachers, $49,740; elementary school teachers, $49,370; and classroom support personnel, $30,120. Many educators working in the profession also enjoy union protection. Presently 38 percent of educators are covered by union contracts. This number is relatively high when comparing all other industries that have 14 percent combined total union membership. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are the largest educator unions in the US. Unionization is typically seen in compulsory education; however educators at many colleges and universities currently have unions in place.

Job Outlook

The educational services sector is poised for significant growth over the next seven years. This growth is due to two factors: increased enrollment in compulsory and higher education as a result of population growth and the retirement of current educators and support personnel from the profession. Statistics regarding all educational services professionals indicates that significant percentages of workers in the field are currently over the age of 55. As more educational services professionals reach the age of retirement, there will be an increased need for new employees to acquire these jobs. In terms of wage and salary increases, earnings for educational services professionals are projected to grow 12 percent by 2018. This is slightly higher than for all other professions combined, which should see average wage and salary growth of 11 percent over the same time period.

Growth in the educational services sector will also be fueled by an increased demand in the need for individualized and specialized education for students. Inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms will increase the need for support personnel. Additionally, these changes will require educators to acquire additional education and training to effectively meet the needs of all students in the classroom.

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