How a Graduate Degree can Help You Make a Career Transition

Emily Coleman
Emily Coleman
ELL academic support specialist; Ph.D. candidate in Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies with Education concentration
Female teaching holding up a drawn picture for a young student

Teaching is a wonderful profession. Watching students overcome barriers and grasp challenging concepts is very rewarding. However, there are times when teachers decide that although they love education, they need a professional change.

Career transitions are a very normal part of life. The average person changes careers between five and seven times throughout his/her life. Teacher burnout is a real phenomenon. There are so many stressors in being a teacher that they can become too overwhelming. Overcrowded classrooms, financial worries, standardized testing, and long hours are just a few issues that can turn a person away from teaching. However, the best part about being a teacher is that there are many other paths that you can pursue in the education world if you have decided that teaching is not for you.

Why Do You Need a Graduate Degree?

Pursuing a graduate degree is often needed when making the transition to a new career in education or any other field. Additional schooling may be required to obtain an add-on to your teaching license or to work in a non-teaching educational career. You want to make sure that before you decide to enter into a degree program that it meets all of the requirements for the new job that you hope to pursue.

Additionally, there are many school districts that offer payment for tuition for teachers who are returning to school for another degree. It would be extremely worthwhile to speak with the human resource department of your school district to see if they have any programs like this or partnerships with local universities.

Choosing to continue your education is going to keep you up to date on all of the newest strategies, best practices, and information in education. Coursework and research that you undertake during your graduate degree will help you become an expert in a new area. Graduate degrees are often much more specialized than bachelor degrees. A graduate degree allows you to study highly specific areas or fields.

Furthermore, graduate degrees will often help you obtain higher-level positions within your current department. You will be able to share the newest educational theories with your fellow teachers and administrators. Completing a graduate degree in education will open up so many different opportunities for a teacher.

Graduate Degrees vs. Certificates

An important detail to learn prior to enrolling in any program is what exactly does the new career you might transition to require as far as coursework, degree completion, or certifications. There are a variety of jobs in the education field besides teaching. Some of them require a graduate degree and some just a certification.

You may be an elementary school teacher and have realized that you love teaching reading especially to the struggling readers in your class. As a career transition, you want to become a reading specialist or interventionist. This change in careers will require you to take to a certain number of courses to obtain your reading specialist certificate. On the other hand, if you want to become a curriculum director in a school district or a curriculum designer for an educational resource or textbook company, you may have to get a graduate degree in curriculum and instruction.

Other professions in the education field that may only require a certification are math interventionists or ESL teachers. These two areas would require you to add a certification onto your already existing teacher license. Be sure to check your state for the requirements because they vary from state to state.

On the other hand, graduate degrees may be necessary for a career change from being a teacher to being a principal, vice principal, or superintendent. These careers often require a certain number of years of teaching and then a graduate degree. Becoming a superintendent also requires a certain amount of administrative experience as a principal or curriculum director. Degrees are also needed to be a school counselor, school psychologist, speech language pathologist, and many others. Research is key in knowing the requirements for the different educational positions.

Even if you want to transition out of the school building completely, there are still other educational careers that you can pursue if you are passionate about education. There are companies who hire educators to be standardized test developers. You can become an educational consultant helping families find the right educational fit for their children. You can enter the world of sales and sell textbooks to schools and universities.

There are so many opportunities for teachers to make a career transition. Teacher burnout is real, but there is no need to completely leave the education field. Realizing that you still have a passion for education but knowing you need a change from the daily routine as a teacher is very normal. This could be the right time to do your research and find a new degree or certification that interests you. Taking inventory of all of the different staff in your school district might open up your mind to new and exciting job opportunities.

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