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Education Major Overview

If you enjoy sharing knowledge and helping others, you may want to consider an education major. Students in this field develop the skills needed to become teachers – one of the most important professions in our society. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about majoring in education. 

Also see: How to pick a major

What is an education major?

Education majors study how people learn and how to best teach them. They seek to understand the various influences that affect students’ abilities to learn, and how to utilize effective teaching practices. Education majors may focus on a specific age group such as early childhood, elementary, middle, or high school. They may also specialize in a particular subject such as literature, math, or science. Most students major in education to become teachers, although there’s other career options as well. We’ll cover job possibilities later on. 

Coursework to expect

Through their coursework, education majors develop the skills needed to become effective teachers. Course topics include educational psychology, child development, school health and safety issues, and contemporary issues in education. Students also take coursework in curriculum development and learn how to develop effective lesson plans. It’s common for students to choose a track specifically tailored to a particular age range or subject. Many programs also offer hands-on teaching experiences in community- and school-based settings. 

Below are some potential courses you may encounter as an education major:

  • Educational Psychology
  • Sociology of Education
  • Learning and Teaching with Technology
  • Educational Assessment
  • Student Teaching
  • Teaching in 21st Century Classrooms 
  • Teaching in Middle and Secondary Schools 
  • Foundations of Special Education 
  • Education and Society 
  • Early Childhood Language and Literacy 

Opportunities after graduation

Although teaching is the obvious career path for education majors, it’s not the only option. Education majors can also pursue positions and graduate programs related to the following areas: 

  • Library sciences
  • Instructional technology
  • Special education
  • Museum curation 
  • Administration
  • Curriculum design
  • Counseling
  • Managerial training

Also see: Everything you need to know about TEACH Grants

Jobs you can get with an education degree

Whether you want to teach preschoolers or college students, there’s a range of job possibilities for those with an education degree. If you choose to venture outside the realm of traditional teaching, other career paths include counseling, library sciences, museum curation, and school administration. Below are some popular career choices for education majors, along with median annual salaries according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

1. K-12 teacher

K-12 teachers educate students in public and private schools, working with grades ranging from kindergarten to high school. They typically specialize in a specific subject area or age group. Elementary school teachers cover a range of subjects, while middle and high school teachers focus on fewer subjects.

2020 Median Pay: $62,870 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 4% (as fast as average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

2. College professor

Professors teach at the college/university level. Just like K-12 teachers, they typically specialize in a specific subject area. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, many professors conduct research and publish scholarly papers or books. 

2020 Median Pay: $80,790 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 9% (Much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3. School and career counselors

School counselors help students develop academic and social skills to prepare them for life after graduation. They’re employed by both public and private K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities. Career counselors help people explore occupations and make career decisions. 

2020 Median Pay: $58,120 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 8% (Much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

4. Librarian

Librarians help patrons find books and other resources, conduct research, and set up systems for cataloging and shelving books. They’re typically employed by local governments, universities, and K-12 schools. 

2020 Median Pay: $60,820 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 5% (Faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

5. Instructional coordinator

Instructional coordinators oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They develop educational material, implement it with teachers and principals, and assess its effectiveness. They also observe teachers in the classroom, review student test data, and conduct teacher training workshops. 

2020 Median Pay: $66,970 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 6% (Faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

6. Archivists and curators

Archivists catalog and preserve historically valuable documents, while curators oversee collections of historical items. They typically work for institutions such as museums, governments, and colleges. Job responsibilities include setting up exhibits and providing educational services to the public. 

2020 Median Pay: $52,140 per year

Projected Growth (2019-2029): 11% (Much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How do I know if this major is right for me? 

If you’re considering a major in education, ask yourself the following questions: 

  1. Are you patient, compassionate, and willing to take on challenges? 
  2. Do you enjoy gaining and sharing knowledge? 
  3. Are you passionate about helping young people achieve their potential? 
  4. Do you seek to improve the state of the world around you? 

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then an education major could be right for you!

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