Published on June 7, 2024
Edited by Evelyn Keener
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University Headquarters (HQ) is an industry-leading, independent educational organization that provides independent college rankings using a proprietary formula to create first class unbiased rankings. The team at University HQ strives to provide accurate and trustworthy rankings that highlights the best programs for education in Illinois.

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What is Education?

Illinois is home to a diverse and robust educational system, offering a wide range of opportunities for students of all ages and backgrounds. From early childhood education to post-secondary studies, the state of Illinois prioritizes education and is committed to providing high-quality learning experiences for its residents. Illinois offers an excellent public school system, with over 869 school districts serving more than two million students throughout the state. Illinois also features many private and charter schools that give parents options when selecting education services for their children.

This means that those who are interested in teaching in the state will have a variety of options when it comes time to find a program for training and then start looking for jobs. Higher education is well-represented in Illinois, with a number of prestigious colleges and universities located throughout the state. From small liberal arts colleges to large research universities, Illinois offers students a wide range of opportunities for students to pursue their educational goals.

In addition to traditional educational pathways, Illinois also supports adult education and workforce development programs, helping individuals of all ages and backgrounds gain the skills they need to succeed in today's rapidly changing workforce. According to data provided by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the education sector in Illinois plays a crucial role in its economy and employs thousands of individuals in diverse roles. As of May 2020, approximately 4,100+ postsecondary education teachers, 60,000 elementary school teachers, and 45,800+ secondary teachers were working within this field. And this doesn’t include all roles such as a huge variety of postsecondary teachers, middle school and preschool teachers, administrators, support staff, and other education professionals.

Illinois education sector employment opportunities extend well beyond traditional school-based roles, offering employment in fields like educational technology, curriculum development, and policy formation. With growing demand for skilled workers in these areas, Illinois' education sector plays a crucial role in equipping its students for success in today's 21st century workforce.

Students interested in completing an education program can find education schools all over the state that offer everything from associate to doctoral programs. These may include options such as Loyola University Chicago, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Illinois State University, Eastern Illinois University, Concordia University of Illinois, North Central College, National Louis University Chicago campus, Lewis University, and other schools in Illinois. Some of these were initially teaching schools focused on training future teachers, and they still provide an excellent education for undergraduate and graduate students alike.


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Online Education Degree Programs in Illinois

A teacher is a person who helps others to acquire knowledge or competence. They can be found in various settings such as schools, colleges, universities, and even online platforms. Teachers are the backbone of education and play a crucial role in shaping the future of individuals and society as a whole. Teachers are not just responsible for imparting knowledge to their students but also for fostering a love for learning, instilling values, and developing critical thinking skills. They create a safe and supportive environment where students can explore new ideas, challenge themselves, and grow both academically and personally.

One of the primary roles of teachers is to craft lessons that meet the varied learning styles and abilities of their students. Teachers use various teaching methods, resources, and technologies to keep learners engaged with learning while making the process enjoyable and interactive. Furthermore, teachers assess students' progress, provide feedback, and assist in meeting challenges and reaching full potential.

Teachers play many roles: mentor, counselor, role model, and motivator, among others. Not only do they educate students in academic subjects, they also help their pupils build vital life skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork – all of which remain important long after they've left the classroom, just as their influence often remains long after they have left our lives.

Online Associate Degree in Education (AS)

An associate degree in education can be a steppingstone toward a rewarding career in the field of education. It provides students with a solid foundation in teaching techniques, classroom management strategies, and educational theory. With the increasing demand for qualified educators, these degrees open opportunities to work as teacher assistants, preschool teachers, or even in community education programs.

Moreover, pursuing an associate degree in education allows individuals to gain hands-on experience through practicums and internships. These real-world experiences are invaluable for developing practical skills and building confidence in managing diverse classrooms. Additionally, these degree programs often offer flexibility for working adults looking to transition into the education sector without committing to a full bachelor's degree program.

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Online Bachelors Degree in Education (BS)

A bachelor's degree in education is an essential steppingstone for those passionate about shaping the minds of the future. Beyond just learning pedagogical techniques, these degrees equip educators with a deep understanding of child psychology, diverse teaching methods, and educational theories. What often goes unnoticed is how these programs foster empathy and cultural awareness - crucial qualities for effective teaching in today's multicultural classrooms.

Many might underestimate the versatility of a degree in education. Graduates not only excel as classroom teachers but also find success in roles like curriculum developers, education consultants, or even educational psychologists. This adaptability speaks to the robust skillset honed during these programs – from critical thinking and problem-solving to communication and leadership skills. A bachelor's degree in education is not just about imparting knowledge; it's a holistic journey towards empowering individuals to make a meaningful impact on society through education.

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Online Masters Degree in Education (MS)

Pursuing a master's of education can be more than a career development move, it can also be a transformative journey that allows educators to delve deeper into the complexities of teaching and learning. With these advanced degrees come knowledge, research skills, and innovative teaching strategies essential for meeting today's student's diverse needs. Focusing on curriculum development, educational leadership, and instructional technology could allow educators to create engaging and effective learning environments, or you can create your own career by choosing a specialization that is of interest to you.

Master's degrees can provide educators with opportunities to specialize in fields like special education, literacy instruction, or STEM education - enabling them to make a greater impactful teaching and learning impact in specific areas. Furthermore, earning one can increase earning potential and job security within an increasingly competitive education field; making a master's degree worth your while for anyone passionate about making a difference for students while shaping the future of education.

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Online PhD Degree in Education (PhD)

Pursuing a PhD in education is a transformative journey that goes beyond acquiring knowledge to shaping the future of educational practices. As doctoral candidates delve deep into research, they not only contribute to the existing body of knowledge but also have the opportunity to redefine how learning takes place. The interdisciplinary nature of a PhD in education allows scholars to explore various facets of education, from psychology and sociology to technology and policy development.

Moreover, earning a PhD in education opens doors to diverse career paths beyond traditional academia. Graduates can lead educational institutions, design innovative curricula, advocate for policy changes, or work in research organizations dedicated to improving teaching methods. With the growing emphasis on lifelong learning and continuous professional development, a doctoral degree in education equips individuals with the skills needed to navigate complex challenges in today's dynamic educational landscape. Ultimately, pursuing a PhD in education is not just about attaining expertise, it’s about making a lasting impact on society through empowering future generations with valuable knowledge and skills.

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Online Education Certifications

Education certifications play a crucial role in equipping individuals with specialized skills and knowledge in various fields. These certifications can often be obtained relatively quickly compared to traditional degree programs, making them an attractive option for those looking to enhance their expertise or advance in their careers without going back to school. Moreover, education certifications are recognized by employers as a validation of specific competencies, providing credibility and enhancing job prospects.

In today's rapidly changing job market, having relevant education certifications can give individuals a competitive edge and demonstrate their commitment to continuous learning. Furthermore, certifications can open new career pathways and opportunities for professional growth. As industries evolve and demand specific skills, obtaining education certifications allows individuals to stay current with industry trends and advancements. In this way, certifications serve as valuable assets in ensuring long-term career success and adaptability in the ever-changing work landscape.

Certifications for Education

Become an Educator in Illinois

If you have a passion for teaching and a desire to make a difference in the lives of students, becoming an educator in Illinois is a fulfilling career choice to consider. Here are some steps to take if you are interested in pursuing a career in education in the state of Illinois.

  • Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Education or a Related Field

    To become an educator in Illinois, the initial step should be earning a bachelor's degree related to teaching or related field from one of Illinois' many accredited institutions for such programs.

  • Step 2: Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

    As part of earning your bachelor's degree, you will also need to complete a teacher preparation program in Illinois that equips you with all the knowledge and expertise needed for becoming certified as an Illinois educator.

  • Step 3: Obtain Teacher Certification

    Once you complete a teacher preparation program, the Illinois State Board of Education requires that you obtain teacher certification through them. This will involve passing exams, background checks, and meeting other state requirements.

  • Step 4: Gain Teaching Experience

    Once you have obtained teacher certification, it’s crucial that you gain teaching experience through student teaching or substitute teaching opportunities.

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What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in Education?

With a bachelor's in education, there are various career paths open to you beyond traditional teaching roles. One option is to work in educational administration, where you can take on leadership positions within schools or districts. You could also explore opportunities in curriculum development, instructional design, or educational technology, shaping the future of education through innovative and engaging resources.

Another exciting avenue for those with a bachelor's in education is to become an education consultant or researcher. By conducting studies, analyzing data, and providing insights into best practices, you can influence policies and programs that impact learners on a broader scale. Additionally, with the rise of online learning and virtual classrooms, there is a growing demand for educators who specialize in distance education and E-learning strategies – offering yet another path for graduates to make their mark in the field of education.

Potential Careers for Education Graduates

Postsecondary Business Teacher

Postsecondary business teachers are charged with instructing college or university students in various business-related topics at both levels, through curriculum design, lecture delivery, facilitation of discussions, and assessment of student performance.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Master's degree or higher in business administration, finance, accounting, or a related field
  • Prior teaching experience at the postsecondary level is preferred
  • Strong communication and presentation skills
  • Knowledge of current business practices and trends
  • Ability to work effectively with diverse groups of students

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for business teachers, postsecondary in the US in 2022 was $108,060
  • The mean annual wage for business teachers, postsecondary in Illinois is $103,060

Secondary School Teacher

Secondary school teachers are accountable for developing engaging and informative lesson plans for grades 7-12 students that promote academic progress as well as personal growth.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in education or a related field
  • Teaching certification or licensure
  • Strong knowledge of subject matter and educational best practices
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Patience and empathy when working with students of diverse backgrounds and abilities
  • Ability to manage classroom behavior effectively
  • A passion for education and a commitment to helping students reach their full potential

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for high school teachers in the US in 2022 was $62,360
  • The mean annual wage for secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education in Illinois is $72,480

Health Education Specialist

As a health education specialist, the role goes beyond teaching about physical health; it encompasses mental and emotional well-being, social relationships, and overall lifestyle choices. These specialists play a crucial role in shaping students' understanding of personal health and empowering them to make informed decisions for a healthier future. By addressing topics such as nutrition, exercise, sexual health, and substance abuse prevention, they equip students with essential life skills that go beyond the classroom.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's or master's degree in public health, health education, or a related field
  • Certification as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) preferred
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Experience in developing and implementing health education programs
  • Knowledge of public health principles and behavior change theories

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for health education specialists in the US in 2022 was $59,990
  • The mean annual wage for health education specialists in Illinois is $59,610

Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teachers hold a unique position in shaping the minds of young learners. Their impact extends far beyond academics; they serve as mentors, role models, and sometimes even parental figures for students. The ability to create a supportive and nurturing environment is crucial in fostering a love for learning at this early stage.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in education or a related field
  • State certification or licensure as an elementary school teacher
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to manage a classroom effectively and maintain discipline
  • Patience, flexibility, and a passion for working with children
  • Knowledge of educational technology tools and resources

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for kindergarten and elementary school teachers in the US in 2022 was $61,620
  • The mean annual wage for elementary school teachers in Illinois is $67,840

Special Education Teacher, Kindergarten and Elementary School

Special education teachers at this level collaborate closely with kindergarten and elementary school students who require additional help, providing personalized instruction so these children with disabilities can achieve academic success and unlock their full potential.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in special education or a related field (Master's degree preferred)
  • State certification as a special education teacher
  • Experience working with students with disabilities, particularly in kindergarten or elementary school settings
  • Strong understanding of special education laws and regulations
  • Excellent communication and collaboration skills
  • Patience, empathy, and a passion for working with diverse learners
  • Ability to adapt teaching strategies to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary school in the US in 2022 was $68,580
  • The mean annual wage for special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary school in Illinois is $72,270

Adult Basic, Secondary, and ESL Teacher

Adult basic, secondary, and ESL teachers are responsible for providing instruction to adult learners enrolled in these types of education programs. Teachers will design engaging lesson plans, assess students' progress, and offer support so students may reach their educational goals.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in education or a related field
  • Valid teaching certification or licensure
  • Experience working with adult learners in basic education, secondary education, or ESL programs
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Knowledge of instructional strategies for teaching diverse student populations
  • Ability to adapt instruction to meet the needs of individual learners
  • Patience, empathy, and a passion for helping adult students succeed in their educational goals

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers in the US in 2022 was $58,590
  • The mean annual wage for adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers in Illinois is $54,520
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