Anyone who is interested in joining the educational field needs to look into different education careers schools. Before choosing an institution, it is important to have realistic goals and expectations in place. Each school will have its own strengths and weaknesses, and potential students need to determine how well each institution will be able to meet their individual needs.
Most teaching careers require at least a bachelor’s degree, which means looking into traditional, accredited colleges. Candidates should consider the strength of the education program along with cost and location, and they should determine if the college offers a master’s degree. Given the growing number of schools demanding that teachers have master’s degrees, it may be to their advantage to have the option of obtaining a master’s degree without having to change schools. Anyone interested in teaching at the college level needs to consider a doctorate program.
The digital age is making it easier for people to change careers and do something they love. If a traditional college education is not feasible, there is always the option of online classes. The coursework is the same in an online class as it is in a physical classroom, but the work is done at home. Students of online education classes, however, do have to complete their student teaching requirements onsite.
Choosing a School for an Education Major
A successful education career begin with choosing the right schools. Selecting a school requires both time and research. The criteria used to choose a school will depend on the type of education career you are interested in. Anyone who wants to work in elementary or secondary education needs to be sure the school has the proper accreditation. Research different schools that offer the programs you need, and narrow them down by cost, location, and reputation. Most of this information can be found online or in education journals; do not forget to get referrals from people you know who work in education.
When only a handful of schools remain on your list, take the time to visit each one and ask pertinent questions. Look into the average class size and student-teacher ratio.
- Will you be taught by professors or teaching assistants?
- Do you qualify for scholarships or financial aid?
- If you choose to continue your education, will the institution meet your needs?
- How much student teaching is offered?
- Does it have a job placement program? How many graduates are certified?
Get a feel for a school before making the final choice. Sit in on a few classes, and see if they suit your learning style. Discuss the program with past and current students, as well as professors. Remember to choose the best school for you, not necessarily the highest-ranked school.
Applying to Education Careers School
Applying to education careers schools is a long process. Most students choose to apply to more than one school in order to increase their chances of being accepted. Whether applying for a community college or university, it is important to send scores from the SAT or ACT to the chosen colleges. If the scores are in the lower percentile, candidates should retake the test to improve their chances of being accepted.
- Each school has its own application process, but essays and letters of recommendation are usually expected, along with SAT scores.
- The essay topics will vary according to the school, and two teacher recommendations are normally required. It is safe to ask for at least three letters of recommendation and prepare two different essay ideas.
- Education schools also look for extracurricular activities that show the candidate is well rounded.
- Make sure the application is complete and turned in before the due date. An application that arrives late will have little chance of approval.
- It is also important to pay any required application fees when turning in the application.
While working on college applications, do not forget to file a FAFSA to determine financial aid eligibility. (Here is a good site where you can learn more about this subject.)
Non-traditional students can return to school as transfer students if they already have a certain number of credit hours. For example, it is possible to transfer courses from an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s program. Talk to a counselor and the financial aid office to be sure you have everything necessary to complete the application process.
Areas of Certification
Different teacher careers require unique areas of certification as well as specific degrees. Certification can be done on a state or national level, and each state has its own certification requirements. Teachers earn their certification based on their specialization or by the age group of their students. Most elementary teachers, for example, are generalists and teach multiple subjects. They can, however, specialize in certain grade levels. Early childhood education degree certification is usually limited to kindergarten through third grade, and elementary education includes kindergarten to sixth grade. Teachers who have middle school teacher certification are qualified to teach grades five through nine.
Teachers of older students are considered “highly qualified.” Earning endorsements in different subjects, along with certification, is legally required of high school teachers, according to No Child Left Behind. For example, an English teacher needs to have a secondary teacher certificate and an English endorsement. An endorsement can be a bachelor’s degree in a specific subject, or it can come from passing different standardized exams. More states are requiring secondary teachers who teach seventh through twelfth grade to earn master’s degrees. Most schools, however, allow teachers to work while they earn their new degrees.
There are some specializations that allow education professionals to work in any school setting. School counselors, speech therapists, school nurses, and reading specialists are needed at every level. Certification for teaching specialties does not focus on the needs of individual age groups. A counselor can work with a student in first grade or in high school. In fact, a specialist may work at more than one school in his or her district and instruct students from different age groups. The certification tests that specialists need to pass include information that is relevant to different developmental stages and the specific subject information.
Because each state has its own certification and standards, transferring certification may or may not be possible. In some cases, teachers can obtain emergency teaching credentials until they have the opportunity to take the state certification exam. National certification allows teachers to work in any location in the United States without having to worry about transferring certification. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certifies kindergarten through twelfth grade teachers. Becoming nationally certified requires a bachelor’s degree and current state certification along with three years of teaching experience. National certification is possible in 25 different subjects and specialties, and some schools pay teachers more if they are nationally certified.
Education School Accreditation
Education careers are easier to find if students graduate from education schools that are accredited. Accreditation is obtained through accreditation agencies that assess the schools and programs according to established standards. There is not a national standard that governs school accreditation, but the Department of Education posts lists of accredited schools so that students can identify them.
- Credits from accredited schools will almost always transfer to other schools, while schools without accreditation do not. Attending an accredited college also affects a student’s eligibility for financial aid. It is, therefore, important to choose a school that has legitimate accreditation. There are accreditation mills that sell accreditation to schools and do not hold them to higher standards.
School accreditation can be institutional or specialized. Institutional accreditation examines the overall quality of education at a school. Specialized accreditation assesses different departments according to the standards set in the industry. Schools are also accredited by national and regional agencies. National agencies focus their research on the schools in general; regional agencies concentrate on the success of individual departments. It is important to note that regional and national credit may not transfer between each other. The Council of Higher Education Accreditation is a useful source that students can use to determine the accreditation status of schools they are interested in attending.