Earning a master’s degree in music education, one of the highest paying master’s degrees, is a career investment that can yield a big return. Whether you’re already a music teacher or planning a career change into the profession, you can expand your areas of expertise, prepare for a surprisingly broad array of job opportunities and boost your income potential.
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A Greater Depth of Knowledge in Music and Instruction
When you take coursework in a master’s in music education program, you complete advanced, graduate-level studies in both music and methods of instruction. Compared to having only a bachelor’s degree in music education, earning a graduate degree lets you develop a deeper understanding of the theories and issues in music instruction and cultivate proficiency in advanced techniques in teaching music.
Having this knowledge can make you a better teacher. Understanding the psychology of how students learn music allows you to adjust your lessons and instruction to achieve better results. Although a graduate degree alone doesn’t make you a good teacher, the best music teachers have the potential to become even better and more effective at music instruction when they earn a master’s degree.
Your curriculum in a graduate music education program may also help you specialize your knowledge of music and music instruction. Some music education master’s degree programs include plenty of room for customization in your curriculum, including elective courses, concentration options and different pathways. You might, for instance, focus on research in music instruction, the inclusion of music education technology in instruction or music from different cultures, time periods or styles.
Graduate music students may have the option to use elective credits to flesh out their knowledge of educational psychology, literacy and reading, teaching English as a second language or teaching certain grade-level groups, such as early childhood or high school.
Career Opportunities in Schools and Beyond
Having a master’s degree in music education gives you plenty of possible career options that you might not have had before, especially if your graduate degree is your first teaching degree. You can, of course, teach music at any level of school from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Having your master’s degree can also qualify you to teach at the college level, particularly at community colleges.
It isn’t only jobs in schools that you could get with this education. You can also leverage your master’s degree to find a job with a music nonprofit or work as a music director or a music librarian. If you want to offer private music lessons, either as your main job or as a side job, the added qualification of a master’s degree can allow you to charge a higher rate for lessons.
Often, some amount of leadership or management coursework is integrated into the curriculum of a graduate music education program. Some music teachers use this management training, along with the prestige that comes from having their master’s degree, to advance into administration roles.
Prospective music education students should know that not all master’s degrees in this field are certification programs. If you don’t already have a teaching certification and you want to work in a public school, it’s essential that you find a program that leads to certification.
An Increased Earning Potential
You didn’t decide to become a music teacher for the money. More likely, your love for music and desire to share that passion with others – especially children, who can benefit so much from being exposed to music instruction – is what prompted you to explore this career path. However, you want to know that the cost of earning your master’s degree is as worthwhile financially as it is in other capacities.
A study of the largest school districts in America revealed that the majority of districts – 88 percent – award teachers more money for having an advanced degree, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality. The difference in average salary between music teachers who have a master’s degree and those who don’t may be as high as $8,000 per year. That’s a significant amount of money that, over the course of your career, can really add up.
Many school districts choose to award master’s degree wage premiums at a rate that increases with your level of experience. While your initial pay boost may not be anywhere near $8,000, the amount of extra pay your degree earns you can grow every year you work.