Master of Education

Career Options Expand and Salaries Spike with a Master of Education Degree

Joseph Lathan, PhD

Academic Director, Master of Education

Wondering what else you can do with a Master of Education Degree (M.Ed.) besides teach? While teaching may be the obvious career path for those considering an M.Ed., there are actually a number of non-teaching careers where an M.Ed. is extremely beneficial, if not required. Plus, with a Master of Education degree, you’re likely to see a nice salary spike of about 5 to 10 percent.

According to’s 100 percent employer reported salary sources that looked at salaries nationwide, the median salary for a public school teacher with a master’s degree or an MBA is $54,956–$59,331. For a principal, one of the alternatives to teaching, average salaries range from $102,190–$109,234. Of course, these figures vary drastically depending on your geographic location. For example, California is one of the top-paying states for teachers, with a median annual wage of $77,390.

Below we’ll discuss eight alternative teaching careers for M.Ed. holders, along with the average salary you can expect to earn in each position. Keep in mind that while a master’s degree will typically increase your pay, most educators are also paid on a sliding scale based on years of experience. As you consider the salaries listed below, keep in mind that they will vary depending on your experience and your location. To find salaries specific to your region try the Salary Wizard, offered by

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Career Paths for Educators with a Master’s Degree (Plus Average Salaries)

Educators who understand the challenges and opportunities facing today’s students are in high demand. A graduate degree can open many doors and, depending on one’s specialization, a number of different career options.

Principal or Administrator

As a principal you are the leader of your school, heavily influencing and shaping the culture and learning systems in place, serving as an aid or advisor to teachers, and ensuring that every student is getting the most out of his or her education while receiving the instruction and support they need to succeed.

[RELATED] How to Advance Your Career: A Guide for Educators >> 

Dr. Allan R. Bonilla, former principal and author of I’m in the Principal’s Seat, Now What? The Story of a Turnaround Principal, urges those considering a career as principal to consider one key question in Education Week. “The big question should be ‘Why do I want to be a principal?’ Hopefully it is because you have wonderful ideas for creating an exemplary school and are eager to implement them. Hopefully you have a true love for children and want to see them all succeed. Hopefully you want to foster a positive school culture in which your teachers can flourish and can motivate and inspire their students to love learning. Do you truly want to make a difference?”

$106,263 is the average salary for school principals, according to

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work directly with children who have emotional or physical disabilities or who have learning impairments. Some special education teachers choose to specialize in a certain area of special education, for example teaching students with autism or those who have experienced trauma. Specializing in a specific subset of special education requires a practitioner to obtain a master’s degree with a specialization in their chosen subset. In some states and in most public schools a master’s degree is required to become a special education teacher regardless of specialization.

$55,711 is the average salary for special education teachers, according to

School or Career Counselor

School counselors are an important presence at most elementary, middle and high schools. They help students who are struggling socially or who are having psychological issues or problems at home. They also assist students with academics, often acting as the main facilitator and mentor during the college application process. In almost all schools a master’s degree is required to work as a school guidance counselor. A common degree choice for those looking to become a guidance counselor is a master of education with a specialty in educational psychology or school counseling. To see a full list of requirements by state, visit the American School Counselor Association.

$49,856 is the average salary for school counselors, according to PayScale.

Educational Coordinator/Director at Museum, Aquarium, Zoo, etc.

Does working in a museum, zoo, science center or aquarium sound fun? Well if you have a master’s degree in education, working as an education specialist or coordinator at one of these facilities could be a great career option. The responsibilities of this role could vary greatly, but in general an education specialist is responsible for designing, implementing and teaching educational programs, distributing educational materials and understanding the different learning styles of their audience.


Check out the blog: 7 Tips on Pursuing a Master’s Degree While Working Full Time>>

Corporate Trainer

Working as a corporate trainer is a great career option for M.Ed. holders who love to teach but would prefer to work in a more corporate environment with adults. Typically, these positions require a master’s degree or higher and can be quite lucrative – another benefit of moving into the corporate space.

$55,360 is the average pay for corporate trainers, according to PayScale.

Educational Consultant

Working as an educational consultant offers teachers another alternative to working in the classroom every day. This can be a great second career after teaching or an option for educators looking to take a few years off from day-to-day teaching. To work as a consultant, most employers require a master’s degree along with actual teaching experience. Typically, consultants specialize in a specific area such as blended learning, improving student dropout rates or academic intervention, just to name a few, and work to set educational goals and implement plans to achieve those goals. Working alongside teachers and administrators, consultants assist in affecting policy, enhancing curriculum, and improving or implementing educational initiatives.

$99,875 is the average salary for educational consultants, according to

Curriculum Developer/Instruction Specialist

Working as a curriculum developer, also known as an instructional specialist, you will be responsible for developing new curriculum or improving existing curriculum for a school. You will provide guidance and supervision for anything relating to curriculum, including textbook changes and technological materials. In addition, you may assess and train teachers to help them improve their instruction techniques. “A master’s degree is considered the minimum educational level” for most instructional coordinator and curriculum developer positions, according to

$64,450 is the average salary for curriculum developers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Content Developer/Item Writer

Content developers and item writers typically work for publishing or assessment companies and are tasked with developing content for standardized tests or writing lesson outlines and content for educational textbooks. While a master’s degree is not always required for item writers, experience in teaching almost always is. And if you want to work as a content developer it is more than likely that you will need to have a master’s degree coupled with subject-specific experience in the teaching field.


Master of Education Salaries by State: Where You’ll Make the Most

As salaries for public school educators are largely funded by taxes, geography has a large influence on pay. According to 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and as reported by CNBC, the best paid teachers reside in the following states:

  1. Alaska – annual mean wage: $82,020
  2. New York – annual mean wage: $81,410
  3. Connecticut – annual mean wage: $76,260
  4. New Jersey – annual mean wage: $75,250
  5. California – annual mean wage: $74,940

Salaries by State – Median Wages for Select Titles

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016


New York Massachusetts California New Jersey Connecticut Maryland Illinois Alaska Rhode Island Pennsylvania
Elementary School Teachers Excluding Special Ed $77,330  $74,470 $74,270 $68,810 $76,740 $64,970 $60,760 $73,050 $66,160 $62,250
Secondary School Teachers Excluding Special Ed $81,410 $74,040 $74,940 $75,250 $76,620 $65,930 $70,130 $82,020 $65,490 $64,320
Career/Technical Education Teachers $72,830 $80,070 $70,390 $71,780 $79,610 $68,400 $66,590 $74,970 $69,490 $61,660
Special Education Teachers, Secondary School $84,330 $67,300 $76,310 $74,480 $76,860 $64,980 $67,070 $74,630 $68,590 $64,770

Teaching Requirements Vary by State

If you will be working as an educator in the public school system, most positions require that you become licensed by your state’s board of education. While requirements will vary by state, many states require:

  • Specialized classes (special education for instance)
  • A minimum number of classes in your chosen subject area
  • Passing of standardized test(s)
  • Student teaching experience

Be sure to check with your state on their specific requirements.

A Quick Reminder: Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master of Education

If you are just beginning to consider how higher education could help you advance, it is important to distinguish an M.Ed. vs. an MAT. This is important because, although they may sound extremely similar, these two degrees are actually very different.

A Master of Education degree is designed for current educators who would like to expand their understanding of teaching theories, pedagogy and strategies. Students in an M.Ed. program not only want hands-on, practical skills they can implement in their classroom, they might also have aspirations of expanding their career beyond the classroom and working in the broader world of academia. So, if you are interested in any of the careers mentioned above, an M.Ed. is the best choice.

A Master of Arts in Teaching on the other hand is designed to give current and prospective teachers the skills they will need to be effective in the classroom. If you are currently teaching and would like to stay in the classroom but gain additional subject-specific skills and strategies to enhance your teaching, the MAT may be right for you.

Master of Education degree programs are typically designed to be versatile enough to position educators for a variety of jobs and career options. For example, the University of San Diego offers an online Master of Education degree with five specializations to choose from: Inclusive Learning; Literacy & Digital Learning; Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM); Curriculum & Instruction; and School Leadership.

Must-Watch Webinar for Educators Considering an M.Ed.

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