An Education Degree Online Can Get You Started

teacher and class

By Sarah Stevenson

A career in education encompasses much more than standing in front of a room full of students and telling them to open their math books to page 15.

If you earn an education degree online or in person, you have the potential to affect students' lives for the better in a myriad of settings, from teaching strong study skills in the classroom to advocating for better educational policies at the state level.

With the appropriate training, you'll find a world of job opportunities open to you in teaching, educational leadership, educational administration, educational research and policy, and school counseling.

Careers in Teaching

If you're just starting out after earning your education degree online, you can gain on-the-job experience and learn more about the field as a teacher assistant. K-6 teachers can generally expect to teach a variety of subjects to the same classroom of students throughout the day, while middle and secondary school teachers concentrate on one subject area such as history or mathematics. College and university teachers, besides teaching various subjects within their discipline, may also have administrative or research duties.

Becoming a classroom teacher at the preschool or elementary school level requires preparation beyond a high school diploma, such as an early childhood education credential, special education credential, 4-year education degree, or online teacher training program. Middle school, high school, vocational school and postsecondary teachers usually hold at least a bachelor's degree in the subject area they plan to teach, in addition to any necessary licenses or teaching credentials.

Administrative Careers

Educational administrators provide essential management at all levels of our educational system, from individual schools and colleges to district and state-level agencies. Job duties may include:

  • Managerial functions such as hiring, supervising and evaluating teachers and staff
  • Instructional oversight such as development of academic programs and curriculum
  • Addressing the concerns of parents, students and the community

With a specialized education degree online or in person, you'll be a good candidate for educational administration jobs such as the following:

  • assistant principal or vice-principal
  • principal (elementary, middle or secondary school)
  • superintendent of schools
  • academic dean
  • director of development
  • director of admissions
  • college president

Educational Leadership Career Opportunities

An educational leader, in contrast to an education administrator, usually retains teaching duties while also being a mentor or manager to other teachers at their institution and assisting with curriculum improvement. They may direct high school departments or programs such as athletics, or be a postsecondary dean or department chair. They usually report to administration, but must be able to balance the needs of students and faculty as well. If you are interested in this field, it can be helpful to earn an education degree online from a specialized educational leadership program.

Education Degrees Online in Research and Policy

Educational researchers help to improve our educational system by tackling essential issues such as the effectiveness of specific teaching methods and the success or failure of ongoing policies. They analyze data on student performance and produce recommendations about technology, instructional materials and education policy. Curriculum specialists and instructional coordinators focus on improving classroom education, while researchers and policymakers at educational firms and government agencies shape the decisions made at the local, state and federal levels. Educational research and policy careers usually demand a graduate education degree. Online programs are widely available in various areas of educational policy and instructional research.

School Counseling Careers

Although some degrees in school counseling are granted through college or university psychology departments, many school counselors hold an education degree from an online or in-person program—usually a master's degree or educational specialist (EdS) degree. As a school counselor, depending on your focus, you may be providing career, educational, personal or behavioral guidance to students from the elementary to postsecondary level. School counselors also collaborate with parents, faculty and other professionals to help ensure student success.

Whether your interest lies in instructing students directly in the classroom or whether you're aiming for a research or leadership role, an education degree online or in-person is the best way to get started in a fulfilling education career.