Bachelor’s in Education Degrees & Programs Guide

Bachelor's Degree in Education Career Options & Salary

Overview of a Bachelor's in Education Programs


A bachelor’s degree in education is typically the minimum requirement if you want to become a teacher in a US public or private elementary, middle school or high school, however, that is not the only reason to get this degree. There are many other career paths in education, in addition to becoming a teacher.

Policy centers, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and private businesses all have need for team members who are trained in the education process. There are education publishing companies, adult education centers, and research institutes where such a degree is considered an asset. Some careers will require you to also attain your masters or doctorate degree, but almost all careers in the educational field begin with a bachelor’s degree.

Education Degrees & Career Paths


PROS

  • Arguably — the most important benefit to earning your bachelor’s degree in education is the way it will expand your career opportunities. Until you have this degree, there are few jobs or careers open to you in any area of education. This is especially true if you wish to become a teacher.
  • Pay — As with most careers, a bachelor’s degree holder can command a higher rate of pay, than someone with a high school diploma or associate degree.
  • Steppingstone — If your career aspirations include a job in which a master’s degree is required, the bachelor’s degree is a necessary first step. Accredited master’s degree programs require a verifiable bachelor’s degree in order for you to be admitted to the program.
  • Certification — Before you can become a certified teacher, you will need to pass certification tests/criteria. This step requires that you possess a bachelor’s degree in education. *Note there are a few exceptions in areas where a shortage of teachers occurs, but you will still need a bachelor’s degree in some area of study, if not education, and in many cases, you’ll need to be working toward earning your education degree.

CONS

It is difficult to find a negative aspect to earning your bachelor’s degree in education, but there are possible bumps in the road.

  • Pay — While a bachelor’s degree commands higher pay than a high school diploma or associate degree, it does not typically pay as well as having a master’s degree or your PhD.
  • Opportunities — Many opportunities in the job market exist for those holding a bachelor’s degree in education, but there are also positions that require a master’s degree or higher. If you only have your bachelor’s, you will not be able to obtain those positions.

Certificate Vs. Bachelor in Education


Traditional Certification


The traditional certification for teaching is earned following your bachelor’s in education. Part of this educational path provides a direct path for you to become certified. Each state sets the standards it requires for you to obtain a teaching certification. In most states you are required to student-teach in a classroom for a semester as part of the certification process.

Alternative Certification


If you decide to become a teacher after getting a bachelor’s degree in an area other than education, you will need to get an alternative teaching certificate. This certificate verifies that your life experience, education and other factors give you the skill to become a teacher without first earning an education-specific degree. You will typically be required to also enroll in an alternative certification program. Mentors are paired with alternative certification teachers to guide them through the school year.

Emergency Certification


This certification allows you to teach with limited or no classroom supervision. You will be required to complete traditional teacher courses during a certain time frame if you desire to keep teaching. Emergency certifications are made available where the school district is growing, teaching jobs are advertised, and there are no applications or too few applicants. In such cases, emergency teaching certification is used while the search for a certified teacher continues. The certification is valid until the end of the school year and can be renewed as needed. The person holding it can also take the necessary courses to become traditionally certified while acting as an emergency teacher.

As of 2020, all US states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, allow alternative and emergency teaching certifications, though each state sets its own mandates about how they are given out, what requirements must be met, and how long they are valid.

What Education Bachelor’s Degrees are Available?


There are two bachelor of education degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science — education
  • Bachelor of Art — education

The same job opportunities exist for both degrees. Whether you earn a BA or a BS depends on how the college chooses to view the teaching profession. If the school provides a more general education, with many courses that are not specifically related to teaching, it will typically offer a BA degree. If it provides a more focused degree and has an emphasis on the sciences or quantitative courses, you will get a BS degree. The coursework for each degree is very similar. Both will require you to successfully complete courses in humanities, social studies, math, psychology, and other areas.

Admission Requirements to Enter a Program


Admission requirements to a bachelor education degree program can vary slightly in each state, or each school but the following are typically required:

  • A high school diploma or a general education diploma (GED)
  • Proof of residency – to determine whether you will pay in-state or out of-state tuition
  • Proof of state-required vaccinations/inoculations (depending on your year of birth)

How long does it take to earn a bachelor’s degree in Education?


Several variables contribute to how long it will take to earn your bachelor’s degree in education. They include:

  • Number of credit hours taken each semester:
    Are you going to be a full-time student or part-time student? How many credit hours will you take? Full-time usually means you are taking 12-15 credits at a time.
  • Summer classes or not:
    Are you going to take the traditional summer months off, or do you plan to enroll year-round? When you take summer courses, you increase your yearly load of classes, shaving time off your total enrollment.
  • Online or classroom:
    Many online courses are designed for you to move at your own pace.
  • Challenge classes:
    Some colleges allow students to “challenge” classes. This means the student demonstrates through testing that he or she already possesses the knowledge and skills that the class will provide. If successful, the student is given the credit hours for that course without having to take the course.

The time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree in education is 3–6 years, depending on the above variables. Students usually enter school expecting to spend at least 4 years there, but many spend as many as 6 years earning their degree.

Potential Careers in Education with a Bachelors


  • Teacher:
    Teachers are needed for preschool through college. With the population growth in the US, there is an ever-present need for teachers at all grade levels. Public schools, private schools, charter schools, and homeschool groups are open to you with a bachelor’s degree in education and the state’s required certification.
    Average Salary - $49,400 (Varies depending on area of the country and grade level)
  • Research Analyst:
    Research is a constant in the field of education. The world continues to evolve both in technology and educational expectations. Research analysts take data gathered regarding an educational topic and determine what the results point to. The studies can be about how students respond to specific teaching styles, how student family structure contributes to success/failure, potential in the classroom, or any of the thousands of possible criteria.
    Average Salary - $55,300
  • School Counselor:
    These counselors work directly with students in a school setting. You will be responsible for developing school programs, counseling students, identifying at-risk students, and communicating with parents, teachers, and administrators. Most positions require a master’s degree, but your bachelor’s degree is a good start. And, in some cases, you can work in the position while getting your masters.
    Average Salary: $50,200
  • Childcare Director:
    In this position you will supervise staff, develop center policies, prepare budgets, approve preschool curriculum, and communicate with parents. A wide range of childcare provider types are available including non-profits, public preschools, Head Start, and Montessori learning centers.
    Average Salary: $40,000
  • Average Adult Literacy, Remedial Education, GED Teacher:
    Teaching adults to read, or helping them to study for their GED exam is open to you with a bachelor’s degree in education.
    Average Salary- $41,100

Options to Advance


Many opportunities for advancement exist in the field of education, however, a master’s degree will typically be required. Examples of where your career can go in the future include:

  • Teacher:
    A current teacher who obtains a master’s degree will receive higher pay and may be able to move on to high level administration or to teach in a college
  • Principal:
    Principals often began as teachers in a classroom
  • Juvenile Justice Advocate:
    In this position you’ll work with civic and government organizations to improve the educational opportunities for at-risk youth
  • Lobbyist:
    Work to effect change in the legislator for students and teachers

Colleges That Offer Traditional Bachelor’s Degrees in Education


  • Vanderbilt University
    Nashville, Tennessee

    With a relatively small enrollment of around 12,800, and an excellent student-to-faculty ratio (7 to 1), Vanderbilt can offer you everything you need to succeed in your education studies. On top of this, they offer a variety of degrees at the undergraduate level.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Education, General – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Elementary Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degree
    • Foreign Language Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Music Teacher Education – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Secondary Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Special Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
  • Elon University
    Elon, North Carolina

    Not only will this school provide you an excellent education, but with its central location, you’ll be within range of half the Eastern US. Additionally, with an enrollment of just 7,000 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1, you can depend on having plenty of positive interactions with your professors and other classmates as you move toward becoming a teacher.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Elementary Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Health Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Junior High/Intermediate/Middle School Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Music Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Social Science Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Special Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
  • University of Washington – Seattle Campus
    Seattle, Washington

    While the Seattle campus of the University of Washington could not be called small, with over 47,000 students enrolled, it is considered to be one of the more vibrant college campuses in the US.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Art Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Bilingual and Multilingual Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Biology Teacher Education – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Business Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Chemistry Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Drama and Dance Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Education, General – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Elementary Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • English/Language Arts Teacher Education – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Family and Consumer Sciences/Home Economics Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Foreign Language Teacher Education – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Geography Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Health Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • History Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Mathematics Teacher Education – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Music Teacher Education – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    • Physical Education Teaching and Coaching – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Physics Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Science Teacher Education/General Science Teacher Education – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Social Science Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Social Studies Teacher Education – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Special Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Speech Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree
    • Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language/ ESL Language Instructor – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    • Technology Teacher Education/Industrial Arts Teacher Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Colleges That Offer Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Education


  • University of North Carolina - Wilmington
    Wilmington, North Carolina

    US News & World Report’s ranks UNCW as one of the top 10 online bachelor’s degree program offering universities in the country.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor of Art - Education
    • Master of Education degree
    • Master of Art in Teaching, K-6 Education Program
  • University of Massachusetts – Amherst
    Amherst, MA

    Amherst offers this online degree through its “University Without Walls” program. The program is designed to provide students with not only the knowledge and skills needed to work in the field of education, but also professor support without having to be in the classroom.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor of Arts in Education – Special Education
    • Bachelor of Arts in Education – Early Childhood Education
    • Bachelor of Arts in Education – Elementary Education
  • Walden University
    Minneapolis, MN

    Walden University is certified through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Proud of its diversity, Walden students come from 150 countries. Its online degree programs utilize cutting-edge technology. As with other online degree programs nationwide, Walden’s program allows you to fit your education around your schedule.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor of Science – Elementary Education
  • Appalachian State University
    Boone, North Carolina

    Founded in 1899, the university was originally built to help residents overcome the hardships of Appalachian life by offering them the chance of a higher education and a career path. Today, the approximate 20,000 students come from all over the country and all walks of life to pursue their undergraduate degrees.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor of Science degree - Elementary Education
    • Bachelor of Science degree – Middle School Education
    • Bachelor of Science degree - Special Education
  • Western Governors University
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    The Western Governor Universities are spread throughout the country. Each campus partners with the state in which it is built. The campuses came to exist when governors from 19 states got together and launched the university concept.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
    • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education (Middle Grades)
    • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education (Secondary)
    • Bachelor of Arts in Special Education (Mild to Moderate)