The education level of American adults is on the rise, as 13.1% have a master’s, professional, or doctorate degree. While some fields, like law, require an advanced degree to practice, fields like teaching do not always require a master’s degree.
But in many cases, holding an M.Ed. in education proves beneficial for educators looking to gain more experience and earn higher salaries.
Below is a guide that explains how an M.Ed. affects pay and what the master in education salary can be expected to be based on different jobs and experience levels.
How Masters Degrees Affect Pay Structures
In all states, having a bachelor’s degree will prepare an individual for an initial state certificate as a teacher if they get the degree as part of a teacher predatory program.
Getting a Master of Education Degree in addition to a bachelor’s is a way for teachers to better their teaching style and elevate their performance as an educator.
Earning a graduate degree is usually the primary way for teachers and educators to earn higher salaries. A 2019 study from the National Council on Teacher Quality studied the largest school district in each state to see the benefits of a graduate degree.
According to the study, 61% of all large school districts use standard pay scales for teachers. These include “lanes” or “steps,” so teachers fall into one of these layers based on their degree or credits. As they get more experience, they move up steps.
Other schools may use to use non-traditional salary schedules and reward teachers more for performance than experience or degree held. In these situations, a master’s in education may be helpful because it can lead to higher performance.
Does an M.Ed. Pay for Itself?
Having a master’s degree does pay for itself. The same 2019 NCTQ study looked at 124 school districts throughout the country.
It found that 92% of all of the districts paid their teachers more for holding an advanced degree. 33% even paid a flat stipend or a bonus to teachers each year for their advanced degrees.
For teachers who spend about $40,000 on their masters in education, this pay raise is worth it. The NCTQ says that teachers with a master’s degree earn about $5000 more annually than teachers who don’t. Over the course of a 30-year career, this means an average of nearly $150,000 more than an educator with a bachelor as the highest degree.
With debt of about $40,000, this means that educators will take about 8 years to break even. Over the course of a 30-year career, this makes a master’s degree a solid financial investment.
However, these are average numbers. Some school districts may only pay $1000 more per year for an educator with a master’s, while others may pay $10,000 more.
Differences in Salaries with Master’s Degrees
While a degree in education is beneficial, just how much it will impact an educator’s salary depends on a few factors. Geographic location, experience level, and the position held is just a few of the elements that will impact an educator’s salary.
Here’s what you need to know.
Differences in pay for educators with a master’s degree in education range largely based on education. The average national salary for a public school teacher in the 2018-2019 school year was $61,730, according to Business Insider.
On primarily the basis of location, teachers earned the most in areas with the densest population. In New York State, teachers averaged salaries of $85,889.
However, these numbers discuss only what a teacher makes on average without taking into account the differences between those with a masters’ degree and those without.
While a master’s in education may earn a teacher $5000 more annually on average, it varies between states and districts. The NCTQ’s data showed that a master’s degree in Jefferson Parish Public School System (LA) only earned a teacher an additional $600 a year.
Meanwhile, a teacher working in Santa Ana Unified School District could be making more than $45,000 more a year with a master’s degree.
Individuals with master’s degrees will have more experience and knowledge about teaching. This makes these educators more desirable for higher-ranking equation jobs that also have higher pay.
Below are three positions for educators with a masters’ degree that have high median salaries.
Principals of elementary, middle, and high schools use their skills to manage hundreds to thousands of students. They receive an annual salary of $98,490, and the BLS projects an 8% employment growth between 2020 to 2030.
Usually, working as a principal requires a master’s degree and at least a few years of experience.
These professionals perform similar duties as primary or secondary principals, but for colleges and universities. These administrators usually focus on one department but can oversee multiple ones if necessary.
Departments could include student affairs or admissions. The BLS reports a $97,510 median salary for these professionals with an employment growth rate of 8% by 2039.
Though there is no schooling requirement for this position, a master’s in education is typically the entry-level education for the job. They’ll need to have an understanding of how students learn and what motivates students in order to perform their roles effectively.
Postsecondary teachers – also referred to as professors – work at colleges and universities. They teach in a specialized field and give in-depth knowledge to young adults. Many four-year colleges will require a doctoral degree to teach students, while others will require a master’s degree and relevant work experience.
The BLS shows that postsecondary teachers earn a median salary of $80,560 a year. These jobs are projected to grow 12% by 2030. This growth is much faster than average.
Salary differences range depending on the grade level taught and students taught. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median income for a secondary school teacher was $62,870.
The median income for an elementary school teacher was $60,660. While this difference is only $2000, it can be significant for educators who are looking to pay off a few extra thousand more dollars in debt each year.
Pay at a public school versus a private school is also much higher. On average, educators earn $63,400 at a public school versus $58,550 at a private school.
Since many schools pay educators based on a step scale, having a master’s in education will move a teacher up a few steps based on their knowledge.
As they gain more experience, the teacher will continue moving up the pay schedule and earning a higher salary. Any teacher can move up the pay scale with any level of education, but having a master’s in education often services as an advantage.
Non-Teaching Careers for an M.Ed. Holder
Those with an M.Ed. don’t necessarily have to pursue a job in teaching. The following are three careers that those with an M.Ed. may enjoy.
Counselors are an important presence at any school, whether it’s an elementary school or a college. Counselors help students who are struggling academically or socially and may be having problems at home.
A master’s in education is typically required for a position as a school or career counselor. Many have a specialty in education or school counseling.
The average salary is $51,527 according to Payscale.com. US news reports that school counselors made a median salary of $58,120 in 2020.
Working as a corporate trainer is another option for those with an M.Ed. These positions are great for M.Ed. holders who like to teach but prefer to work in corporate positions.
The average pay salary is $57,144 for a corporate trainer, and most positions require a master’s degree or higher. However, the positions can be quite lucrative and lead to a salary after relationships are established with an organization.
Educational consultants are another alternative to teaching or working in the classroom every day. Working as an educational consultant can be a rewarding career after having some experience working as a teacher.
To work as a consultant, employees will typically require a master’s degree and some teaching experience. A consultant will work in a specific area like remote learning or improving student dropout rates.
Payscale.com shows that the median salary for an educational consultant is $65,444. Meanwhile, the median salary could be much higher. It is $103,634, according to Salary.com.
Where to Work with an M.Ed.
Those with a masters’ degree in education will be able to find employment in any of the 50 states, and the majority of countries in the world employ teachers. But some areas will have the best job outlook. Data from the BLS shows that states with lower population densities hire fewer teachers.
So, teachers looking to work in states like Montana and Wyoming may have more difficulty finding employment than if they work in metropolitan areas. Most importantly, though, teachers should look to work in areas that they enjoy.
Understanding the Masters in Education Salary
The master’s in education salary is dependent on several factors. With the proper planning, though, obtaining an M.Ed. will be beneficial in numerous career paths for educators.
If getting a master’s in education seems a career choice you’d be interested in, get in contact with our team to learn more.