Careers in Education: Teaching and Beyond

A school counselor squatting to talk to a student sitting on a bench outside.

Teaching in a traditional classroom setting is an excellent way to build an impactful career in education. But earning a degree in education can be a springboard to many other important roles as well, such as school counselor, curriculum developer, or education policy analyst. 

Here we’ll explore a number of meaningful careers in education, in and outside of the classroom, that are available to those who earn a degree in education.

Traditional Teaching Roles

Working in a traditional teaching role allows educators to directly impact the lives of children by nurturing their curiosity and providing them with foundational knowledge. Some common roles include early childhood educator and elementary school teacher.

Early Childhood Educator

Focusing on children in their formative years, from birth to age 8, early childhood educators play a crucial role in guiding these children through their developmental milestones. 

While salaries for early childhood educators can vary based on the educator’s location, employer, experience, and education levels, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that preschool teachers had a median annual salary of $35,330 in May 2022, while kindergarten teachers had a median annual salary of $60,490. 

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) underscores the importance of early childhood education in laying a strong foundation for lifelong learning and success. A Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education is often required for these positions. The coursework for this degree covers teaching methods and strategies tailored to young learners, focusing on play-based learning, storytelling, and hands-on activities that foster exploration and discovery. 

Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teachers prepare young children for the rest of their education by teaching them basic academic subjects including math, social studies, and reading as well as essential interpersonal skills. According to the BLS, elementary school teachers had a median annual salary of $61,690 as of May 2022. 

A Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education program that emphasizes the need for creativity, patience, and effective communication can prepare individuals for this vital role. This degree program encompasses a broad curriculum that covers subject matter knowledge across a variety of disciplines along with pedagogical theories, classroom management strategies, and practical teaching experience. Graduates must be well-equipped to adapt to the diverse needs of their students and to cultivate in them a love of learning.

Specialized Education Careers

Working outside of the classroom, educators in certain specialized roles contribute to students’ success through curriculum development, school counseling, and more.

Curriculum Developer/Instructional Coordinator

Curriculum developers, also known as instructional coordinators, specialize in the design, implementation, evaluation, and improvement of educational curricula and teaching standards. These individuals play a critical role in enhancing the quality of students’ education by ensuring that instructional materials and teaching methods are up to date, effective, and aligned with both current educational standards and the learning needs of students.

Curriculum developers and instructional coordinators are at the forefront of educational innovation as they design and implement instructional materials and programs in their schools. The BLS reports that instructional coordinators had a median annual salary of $66,490 in May 2022.

To qualify for these roles, educators typically need to have earned a master’s degree, such as a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, to ensure they have gained a deep understanding of curriculum design and educational theory. Graduates with this degree are prepared to contribute to the advancement of educational quality and student achievement in any of a number of settings, such as schools, districts, higher education institutions, or educational consulting firms.

School Counselor

School counselors provide comprehensive support to students in elementary, middle, and high schools. Their primary objective is to guide students through their academic, career, personal, and social development, helping them achieve success in school and prepare for meaningful lives beyond the educational setting. School counselors work collaboratively with students, parents, teachers, and administrators to create a nurturing environment that promotes student achievement and well-being.

School counselors are key in supporting students’ academic, emotional, and career development. The BLS reports that school counselors had a median annual salary of $60,140 in May 2022. A master’s degree, such as a Master of Education in School Counseling, is typically required to become a school counselor. The coursework for this degree provides an in-depth understanding of child and adolescent development, allowing future counselors to tailor their approaches to the age-specific needs and challenges of their students.

Beyond the Classroom

For those looking to impact the field of education more broadly, a range of roles offers the chance to innovate and influence at various levels.

Educational Technology Specialist

Educational technology specialists, often referred to as ed tech specialists, focus on integrating technology into educational settings to enhance learning and teaching practices. These professionals evaluate, recommend, and implement digital tools and resources, including software, hardware, and internet applications, to improve students’ educational outcomes. Ed tech specialists work in numerous settings, including K-12 schools, universities, and educational organizations, playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of education through technology.

The integration of technology into education has created a demand for specialists who can effectively incorporate digital tools into teaching and learning processes. Salaries for educational technology specialists vary widely, reflecting the diversity of roles and institutional contexts. 

Because the educational technology specialist role requires professionals to have both expertise in technology as well as high-level knowledge of curriculum design and instruction, earning a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a technology component is a great way to prepare for it. 

Education Policy Analyst

Education policy analysts play a crucial role in shaping the educational landscape by examining existing educational policies, proposing improvements, and analyzing the impact of proposed policy changes on various aspects of education systems. These professionals work in several different settings, including government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and think tanks. They influence education policy at the local, state, national, and international levels.

According to Payscale’s February 2024 findings, the median annual salary for education policy analysts was around $64,000.

A Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction program not only provides the foundational knowledge necessary for a career in education policy analysis but also offers the analytical, research, and communication skills needed for success in this impactful and rewarding career.

Start Your Career in Education

Whether through teaching, counseling, curriculum development, or technology integration, professionals pursuing careers in education are pivotal in shaping a brighter future for learners around the world. Recent data and studies demonstrate the growing demand for individuals equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to advance students’ educational outcomes. 

Mid-America Christian University’s online and on-campus education degree programs can help to prepare you for a meaningful career. Our online programs are designed to let you build the knowledge and skill set you’ll need to succeed, all within a framework that can be adapted to fit your busy schedule. 

Explore MACU’s education degree programs, including the following:

Learn how we can help you thrive in your education career today.