What Is the Value of an Education Degree?

If you love working with children or sharing your knowledge, a career in education may be a good fit for you. However, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to teach, and some career pathways require a master’s degree or higher.

Before beginning their careers, many students will need to borrow money to help pay for school. In fact, the Learning Policy Institute reported that 60% of public full-time teachers took out student loans for their education.

Before committing to be an education major or applying for loans, learn about the career outlook, median salary and the typical amount of student loan debt for teachers.

Potential Teaching Degrees

What degree you need to begin your teaching career depends on your goals. There are four main options:

  • Associate’s degree: If you plan on teaching pre-school or at select private schools, you may qualify for a position with an associate’s degree, a two-year degree you can complete at most community colleges.
  • Bachelor’s: Elementary or secondary school teachers generally need at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify for a teacher’s certificate in their state.
  • Master’s: A master’s degree is required for community college teaching roles and some secondary school teaching positions.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD.): Teaching at the college level usually requires a PhD.

Cost of an Education Degree

How much an education degree costs varies based on your location, the type of school you attend and how long it takes to earn your degree.

According to The College Board, four years of college — including the cost of tuition, room and board, textbooks and transportation — can cost anywhere from $115,360 to $186,920.

If you plan on pursuing a master’s degree or PhD., expect to pay $66,000 or more to cover the cost, and that total is on top of the cost of your bachelor’s degree.

Career Outlook for an Education Major

Teachers are in demand, but the salaries can be low considering the amount of education this career path requires. Below is the median salary for different teaching levels as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Career Path Education Required Median Salary
Preschool Teacher Associate’s $35,330
Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher Bachelor’s $61,620
High School Teacher Bachelor’s $62,360
Special Education Teacher Bachelor’s $62,950
Postsecondary Teacher Master’s or PhD. $80,840

Other career options

While education majors are most commonly associated with teaching, an education major can qualify for other positions. Some other career options include:

  • School administrators: Education majors may qualify for roles in school administration, including positions as principal.
  • Corporate trainers: Education majors can also find positions as corporate trainers, using their degree to teach courses or workshops to professionals.
  • Curriculum designers: Curriculum designers can help develop detailed curriculums for school districts, schools and parents who homeschool.

Financial Aid Options for Education Majors

With the high cost of higher education degrees, it’s no surprise that most students need help with the cost. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for the following financial aid options:

Grants and Scholarships

Grants and scholarships are gift aid, meaning you don’t have to repay the awards. These awards can come from colleges, non-profit organizations, private companies and federal or state agencies.

For undergraduate students, one of the best-known grants is the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant. The TEACH grant provides up to $4,000 per year to students pursuing teaching degrees, but it requires students to commit to teaching for at least four years at an elementary or secondary school in a low-income area. Otherwise, the award is converted into a loan.

Student Loans

Many teachers take out student loans to help pay for their degrees. There are two main forms:

  • Federal student loans: Federal loans are a good starting point because of their relatively low rates and borrower protections. But most federal loans have strict annual and aggregate maximums.
  • Private student loans: Private student loans allow you to borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance.

Loan Forgiveness

As a teacher, you may be eligible for help with your federal student student loans after you begin your career. Depending on your loans and location, you may be eligible for one of the following loan forgiveness programs:

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): If you work for a public school or non-profit private school full-time for at least 10 years and make 120 qualifying monthly payments, the government will forgive your remaining federal loans.
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness: Federal loan borrowers that teach a high-need subject in a public school or education service agency in a low-income area for at least five years can qualify for up to $17,500 of loan forgiveness.
  • State programs: Some states have loan repayment assistance programs. In exchange for a commitment to teach in high-need areas for a specific period, states like Illinois, New Jersey and Texas may help you repay your federal or private student loans. Visit your state education agency to find out if your state operates a loan repayment assistance program.

Learn how to get more financial aid to maximize your chances of qualifying for aid.


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