Maybe you’ve been teaching for a few months (or a few years) and you’ve begun to wonder if getting a Master’s in Education would be worthwhile. You’ve heard that you can make more money, maybe even set yourself up for an administrative position somewhere down the line… the prospect seems tempting. But before you go rushing to sign up for the GRE, you should take some time to figure out whether a Master’s in Education (or any graduate degree for that matter) is truly worth it for you.
In the majority of school districts and teaching situations, a Master’s degree will indeed result in higher pay. However, the difference in pay between a teacher with a Bachelor’s degree and one with a Master’s degree is often far less than the same degree difference in other professions. For instance, the starting salary for a teacher with a Master’s degree might be anywhere from $1000 to $2000 (maybe more, depending on the district) more than one with a Bachelor’s degree. By comparison, in the business world the starting salary for someone with an MBA might be as much as $25,000 more than someone with just a Bachelor’s degree.
But like teaching itself, a Master’s degree is not about money. Many pursue a Master’s degree as a gateway to teaching at the college or university level — even teaching at a community college often requires a Master’s degree or higher. A Master’s degree in Education can also prepare you for leadership or administrative roles; for example, you can learn the skills to become a successful guidance counselor or principal. If you decide to pursue a Master’s degree in a particular subject field (as opposed to Education), you’ll return to the classroom with a greater and deeper knowledge of your area of expertise.
Nevertheless, if you’re leaving a full-time job to pursue a Master’s degree, you’ll need to consider tuition and other graduate school costs. Graduate school isn’t cheap — a one-year Master’s program could cost you over $30,000 once you’ve added in housing, books, and other expenses. And it’s not just the cost of the education you need to keep in mind — but the salary you will lose by not having a full-time job during that period. Some programs will allow you to work at the same time (especially online programs), but if you quit your job, you’ll most likely need a student loan or two.
In the end, you’ll need to ask yourself, “What do I expect to accomplish with my degree?” If “I’d like to make more money” is your answer, then ask yourself the following: “How will it help me meet my goals?”, “Can I make the commitment necessary in time and money?” and “Do I have the drive and determination to make it happen?” If you answer “Yes” to all of these, then a graduate degree could definitely be worth it for you.