Generally, the students who pursue a degree in math education have one career goal in mind: to become a math teacher. Whether you want to delve into college preparatory calculus as a high school teacher or you want to teach all subjects at the elementary school level but just happen to like math best, this degree will help you achieve that goal. While jobs for teachers aren’t taking off at an exceptional rate, they are growing at roughly the same rate as all occupations as a whole. That means hundreds of thousands of new teaching jobs will open up by the year 2026.
Job Outlook for Educators
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a division of the federal Department of Labor, tracks information about occupations in America and data such as median salary and estimated rate of job growth. The BLS expects opportunities for all occupations to grow by an average rate of seven percent in a span of 10 years. Some jobs will grow by 30 percent or more during that time, while others might be stagnant or even see a decline. Jobs for educators are likely to match this average growth rate. The BLS expects opportunities for elementary school teachers to increase by seven percent and those for middle school and high school teachers to increase by eight percent.
Of course, it isn’t just the percentage rate that matters, but also the number of jobs that will be added. A small occupation could see huge gains in terms of percentage, but only a few hundred to a few thousand new jobs would result. Fortunately, teaching is already a massive occupation. More than 3,059,900 American workers are teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels already. By the end of this decade of average growth, the BLS expects another 228,200 teaching jobs to emerge. Educator roles in elementary schools will see the most new opportunities, with an anticipated 104,100 jobs opening. High schools will add an estimated 76,800 jobs for teachers, and middle school teaching opportunities should increase by 47,300.
Even in tough economic times, teachers are needed to educate young people and prepare them for the changing world. This makes teaching somewhat of a more stable career path. In fact, as many educators leave the profession, some areas are seeing teacher shortages.
Should You Earn a Master’s Degree to Be a Teacher?
Most of the demand for a mathematics education degree refers to an undergraduate-level degree. A bachelor’s degree in a teacher preparation program, along with a content area, is enough to prepare you for an entry-level role as an educator. However, there is some demand for a master’s degree in education, as well. Determining if you want to go to graduate school requires you to consider your career goals, your current job situation, your state’s requirements, your school district’s salary specifications and your own level of interest.
If you’re not a teacher yet and you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, the demand for you to have a master’s degree in education may be quite strong. Studying teacher preparation is the only way you will be able to become a teacher. This option of going back to school to take classes in teaching and learning, classroom management, instructional design and other aspects of education at the graduate level, rather than having to earn a second bachelor’s degree, is often referred to as “alternate route” certification. Alternate route certification programs often take two years to complete and award a master’s degree. Schools in some states can offer one-year certificate programs that fulfill the basic requirements to become a licensed teacher.
For a couple of different reasons, you might choose to earn a master’s degree in mathematics education even if you already have your teacher certification. After all, if you love teaching, there is a good chance you are passionate about learning, as well. You may have the drive to discover all that you can about effective teaching strategies and pedagogical approaches so that you can add new techniques and perspectives to your repertoire. This ambition can really translate to a better education for your students, since some research suggests a link between teachers having a master’s degree and better student outcomes.
Financially, earning a master’s degree makes sense, as well. On average, earning a master’s degree translates to a salary increase of 24 percent for high school teachers and 28 percent for elementary and middle school teachers, the BLS reported. Of course, some states and school districts offer greater rewards to teachers who go to graduate school than others. Studies show that 96 percent of major school districts surveyed nationwide offer higher rates of pay to teachers who have a master’s degree. On average, the pay difference is smaller among new teachers, starting at around $3,205 per year and rising to $8,411 for the teachers with the most experience. Though unusual, a wage premium as high as $30,000 annually is not unheard of for teachers who earn a master’s degree.
In recent years, education degrees represented more than 20 percent of all master’s degrees, the BLS reported.