What Does a Career in Gifted & Talented Education Entail?
A career in gifted and talented education requires a dedication to advanced students, completing at least a bachelor's education program, a state teaching license, and perhaps even a master's degree in gifted and talented education or a Master of Education from a college of education with a related focus in gifted education. You can start your path to a gifted and talented education classroom with an associate degree and work as a para-professional or a teacher's aide. In this position, you might find that you can work with gifted and talented middle school teachers or elementary school teachers who focus on gifted students, though there are no guarantees. However, if your long-term goal is to work with those students as a specialist and aid in their emotional and educational preparation and development, there may be opportunities for you to gain specialized experience in a K-12 environment.
You will want to earn state licensure and start teaching prior to becoming a gifted and talented educator. While you can go straight from your bachelor's into a master's degree program, if you gain practical experience for a school year or two, you will be better prepared for further gifted and talented education programs. Once you are credentialed and experienced, you can start working on either an endorsement to add to your credentials or an on-campus or online master's in gifted and talented education. More and more master's degree programs, and education degrees in general, are available as online programs, though you must still student teach in person.
Components of A Successful Career In Gifted & Talented Education
Teachers of gifted students may have a harder time than some other school teachers. No, they shouldn’t have any problems with getting their students to learn new concepts, but they might have trouble keeping them all engaged. Gifted learners are blessed with high ability levels, but the needs of gifted students present their own issues and challenges for school teachers and gifted and talented education programs must be designed specifically for these students. In order to so do, you’ll have to be creative, energetic, and studious in making sure you are presenting challenging material that the whole class can participate in. Luckily, gifted and talented class sizes are usually smaller than regular classes, so school teachers in this field should have extra time to spend with each student individually. However, these students are smarter than a lot of other kids, and they know it. Be prepared to deal with a lot of testing yourself, as they push their boundaries and yours in the classroom.
How to Earn an Online Degree in Gifted & Talented Education
Typical Gifted & Talented Education Degree Requirements
In order to be a gifted and talented educator, you will need to have a bachelor’s from a gifted and talented education program or a related teaching field, which will require you to gain entry to a bachelor’s program with your school transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, and possibly letters of recommendation. Once you pass your 120 credit-hour bachelor's, you can take the test to gain your teaching credential. It would be best at this point to get some experience in the field. Teach at a school in your area, or even substitute teach; your student teaching experience is a great starter, but you’ll need some other experience to really show you can do the job. From there, you will need either an endorsement or a master's degree. Getting into a master’s degree program will require that you maintained around a 3.0 GPA in your BS program and may have other requirements. With a master’s degree in gifted and talented education, you’re ready to lead your own classroom of gifted and talented kids.
Typical Gifted & Talented Education Certifications Needed
To teach gifted and talented students, you will need a state teaching license and at least an endorsement. An endorsement can take as many as six courses, or 18 semester hours. In addition, your state may have requirements for supervised teaching. Ohio, for instance, requires that you log 50 hours working with a fully-credentialed gifted and talented teacher.
Academic Standards for a Gifted & Talented Education Degree
Since you intend to teach the best and brightest students, you should strive to model high academic achievement. This goes without saying, as students deserve the very best teachers regardless of their IQ or other talents. The specific standards you must meet in order to maintain good standing in your program will vary from school to school, but you should strive for top marks.
Exam/Experience Needed for a Gifted & Talented Education Degree
To become a Gifted and Talented educator, you will need to pass at least the subject-specific Praxis II. This test qualifies you for your subject area. For instance, math teachers take the math Praxis II and Gifted and Talented teachers take their corresponding test. Once you have passed your Praxis II, you will also need to show that you have completed approximately 18 semester hours and met your state's requirements for supervised teaching in that subject/specialty. Depending on the state there may be other requirements, so be sure to check with your states teaching certification Board.
Online Associate’s Degree
You can work in a classroom with only an associate degree. However, you will not qualify for a teaching credential. Rather, you will work as a ParaPro or a Teacher's Aide. The good news is that you will accrue valuable experience in the classroom, which will pay off later. Your associate degree could include courses such as:
Some courses you might see include:
- Introduction to Education
- Theories of Pedagogy
- Classroom Management
- Educational Philosophy
Online Bachelor’s Degree
When you earn your bachelor's degree, your teaching career can really get started. That is, your degree will satisfy one of your state's qualifications for licensure. Prior to starting an undergraduate program, however, make sure that your school is recognized by your state's Board of Education. While most education departments do prepare students for state licensure, confirm this prior to enrolling. Undergraduate programs also require that you specialize in either primary, middle grades, or secondary education. Not every program offers all three, however, so make sure your school offers the specialty you need. As you proceed towards graduation, you might take some of the following courses:
Some courses you might take while earning your bachelor’s degree include:
- Developmental Psychology
- Exceptional Child
- Pedagogy Seminar
- Inclusion for Exceptional Students
- Inclusion for Gifted Students
- Teaching Methods (subject specific)
Concentrations for Online Bachelor’s Degree Education Programs: Primary Education, Middle Grades Education, Secondary Education, Special Education, Leadership in Education, and STEM Education.
Online Master’s Degree
When you reach a Master of Education level in your education, you may be able to focus your master's program on a gifted and talented education program. Technically, you will receive an MEd with a concentration in gifted and talented education. While you could take fewer courses and receive an endorsement for this specialty on your license, a master's in gifted education will likely come with a significant pay raise. Further, with a MEd, you will qualify for jobs in administration, if you wish to leave the classroom. Your MEd coursework might include:
Some courses you might see when you pursue your master’s in Education include:
- Teaching Gifted and Talented Children – Overview
- Assessments for Gifted Children
- Creativity Seminar
- Curriculum and Technology for Gifted Students
Earning Potential for Gifted & Talented Education Degree Fields and Occupations
In today's bustling economy, education means more all the time. Some even say that there is a sort of inflation relative to education, where today's bachelor's degree is worth the salary your parent's associate degree fetched. While there could be pure economic reasons for this – the economy needs people to delay entry to the workforce – it could also be that the world is complex and we need highly-developed skills and expansive knowledge to maneuver it successfully.
In public schools, you will find that salaries are rather strictly stratified. If you enter the field as a ParaPro with an associate degree, your salary will be locked into a specific range. Yet, when you achieve a bachelor's degree and a full teaching certificate, your salary will see a significant increase. The same applies when you complete higher degrees.
While the public sector has more leeway in terms of what they can pay, you will find that your pay grade increases in conjunction with your relative academic achievement. While experience can make a huge difference, most private firms love to see a master's degree, and they pay accordingly.
Gifted & Talented Education Fields of Study Median Salaries
A very diversified field. Social Workers are most often thought of as caseworkers who work with foster children, houseless persons, or for non-profit charities. However, the social work degree can help you find work in schools as well, working with kids.
Teaching youngsters is a true joy. You might consider whether you are truly called to this profession, however, as this profession is highly demanding. To teach in a classroom, you will need to take at least two standardized Praxis exams, find a position in a school, and otherwise satisfy your state's Board of Education.
When you study secondary education, you will be priming yourself to teach high school students. Many undergraduate programs for secondary education require that you also take a second major in the subject you intend to study. Since you will have to pass a standardized test in that subject for your licensure, it is recommended that you consider a double-major whether it's required or not.
Some say that this field is where clinical psychology and social work meet. You will counsel students one-on-one but often not on a regular basis, as you might as a psychoanalyst. You will also be a mandatory reporter and will need to offer students non-school resources to help them through various personal difficulties.
In this field, your work will impact nearly every aspect of your community or even your nation. Most will focus on specific areas of public policy, such as transportation, education, or health care. Public Policy professionals can work with consulting groups or with local, state, or federal government.
This field analyses how people operate in groups. If you achieve a degree in Sociology, you might pursue higher education and do research from academia, or you could work as a consultant to marketing firms or other entities who need to understand various trends in group behavior.
Field of Study Average Salary by Degree Level
|Field of Study||Associates Salary||Bachelors Salary||Masters Salary|
|Psychology||$30 ,000.00||$56 ,000.00||$61,000.00|
|Gifted and Talented Education||$23,000.00||$49,000.00||$56,000.00|
Gifted & Talented Education Salaries by Occupation
Though teaching Gifted and Talented children is as much a calling as a profession, it is still worthwhile to consider your future salary in the field. After all, you cannot pay for housing, feed your children, or afford the occasional indulgence without a salary. While every state, has somewhat different pay rates for its teachers, they all stratify salaries according to your relative academic achievement. Thus, if you enter the field with an associate degree, you will find that your salary is on the lower end. Further, you will not be allowed to run your own classroom. As you gain higher degrees, however, your pay and responsibilities will rise.
Your academic achievement won't be the sole determining factor in your pay, however. Some specialty areas tend to pay more, such as STEM subjects. Another significant factor that impacts everyone equally is the time you spend teaching. That is, you should receive raises based on your tenure teaching.
Gifted & Talented Education Occupations:
Elementary School Teacher
If you are called to teach children from ages 5-12, you are a special person who will have a very rewarding career. With your guidance, youngsters will launch their academic careers from solid ground. After all, you will teach them the fundamentals of whatever profession they pursue later in life. In fact, you might inspire future scientists, businesswomen, or politicians.
High School Teacher
High school teachers hone young minds and prepare them for the wider world to come. You might prepare students for college or maybe you can help them learn the fundamentals of a trade, such as mechanics or electrical work. You should prepare to teach high school by delving deep into your subject area, whether that be literature, social science, or a hard science such as chemistry, biology, or mathematics.
When you work as a counselor in school systems, you have the opportunity to intervene in many crises that others in a student's life might miss. You can help students with one-on-one counseling or you might simply help them find resources outside the school that will help them and/or their parents.
Gifted and Talented Teacher
Even kids with enormous talents need special attention. In your care, you will see that these talented children receive the extra stimulation and challenges they might not receive otherwise. In-depth research assignments, special projects, or stimulating field trips might make the difference between a bored and stifled child and one who is able to flourish.
Elementary School Principal
As a principal, you will probably need a minimum of a masters-level education. While not all jurisdictions require that, rest assured that your competition will likely have master's and doctoral degrees. In this position, you will guide students and faculty through school policies and state rules.
Elementary School Vice-Principal
Your job will be to assist your principal, primarily by implementing disciplinary policies and procedures. Though some students might come to fear you, you can also help to guide some errant students through the thickets of childhood.
Secondary School Principal
High school students still need a leader at the top who can guide the organization's policies and who will help out faculty as needed. In this position, you will likely communicate directly with the school superintendent and the Board of Education. You will also manage faculty and other staff.
Secondary School Vice-Principal
You are more than just a disciplinarian in this position. Vice-Principals work with teachers to discover and implement best practices in the classroom, help manage the physical plant of the school, and otherwise assist the principal in the management of the school. To qualify for administration, you will probably need to show significant tenure and success in a classroom, but also a master's degree.
When you become a social worker, you embody a lot of potential. Social workers work with youngsters in the foster care system, adults seeking to escape homelessness or even patients at the very end of life. Some even administer psychoanalysis to private clients in a clinical setting. This is a wide-open field that is ready for you to make of it what you will.
Annual Salary by Occupation (Range)
|Occupations||Entry Level Salary Range||Mid-Career Salary Range||Late Career Salary Range|
|Elementary School Teacher||$39,700||$45,400||$58,500|
|High School Teacher||$41,300||$49,300||$62,700|
|Elementary School Principal||$67,600||$81,200||$92,700|
|High School Principal||$68,600||$91,600||$99,700|
Important Questions to Ask (FAQ)
How long does it take to earn a Gifted & Talented Education bachelor's degree online?
It can take as little as four years to earn a bachelor's through online programs, whether they are focused on gifted education or elsewhere. If you work hard and don't take summers off, you could finish sooner. That said, these days the new norm for completion is around six years. This is the measure most government studies are using, so it would be best for students to finish at least within the six-year mark.
How much does an online Gifted & Talented Education bachelor’s degree cost?
A bachelor's can cost as little as $30,000 if you take two years of courses at a community college and finish up in a public university. However, the cost can rise as much as ten times, to $300,000, if you attend an elite private school in an expensive major city. As you an see, the prices can vary wildly from place-to-place, so you should check the price per credit at the schools you are considering.
Does the school have the major(s) you’re considering?
When you feel the calling to become a teacher, you will probably have a specific setting in mind. Some envision days spent with construction paper and glue, teaching kindergarten. Others want to light up the minds of teenagers in a high school science class. Different schools will prepare you for different outcomes. That is, some will offer specialty teaching degrees in primary education, middle grades, or secondary teaching rather than offering gifted education programs specifically. Some bachelor's programs will offer a variety of specialties. Make sure the school you choose offers exactly which specialty you want. Keep in mind that it's not easy to switch from secondary to primary, or vice versa. State education boards always want to see that you have completed your academics and are appropriately credentialed prior to making any such changes.
How many students graduate “on time,” in four years?
Graduating within a four-year window is becoming less and less common. Nowadays, when the government studies undergraduate attrition rates, they set the bar at six years. Therefore, you can assume that students, on the whole, seldom graduate within four years.
If you work hard, however, and consistently attend college as a full-time student (15 credit hours a semester), you should be able to graduate in four years.
What kind of accreditation does the program hold? How is it regarded in the field?
Accreditation is of utmost importance when you work towards a teaching credential. Where other fields might allow you to prove yourself in the field, your state will not certify you without a degree from an accredited, state-approved program. It may be possible to teach for a private school, but even they will want to see that you have a bachelor's degree from a recognized, well-regarded institution.
When you research online schools for your bachelor's degree, look for institutions that are at least regionally certified. Then, make sure that their education programs, whether or not those are programs in gifted education, are recognized by your state's board of education.
To teach Gifted and Talented students, it will be to your advantage to have some specialized skills. This becomes more important the older your students are. If you are teaching gifted students in Middle School, for instance, you should probably have one or two areas where you have some special skills. Overall, however, the most important skill you can have is patience and tolerance for younger minds and emotions.
Gifted & Talented Education Scholarships
Veterans Make Great STEM Teachers
Deadline: December 1
This award will help defray between $1000 and $3000 in tuition, books, or other fees associated with becoming a teacher. To qualify, you need to be a member of ITEAA (International Technology and Engineering Educators Association), have a 3.0 cumulative GPA, and be a current or former member of the armed services.
AMS Teacher Education Scholarships
Deadline: May 1
The American Montessori Society awards undergraduate students with funds up to $3,000. You must be studying in an AMS-affiliated program for teacher education, demonstrate significant financial need, and submit a complete application packet inclusive of three references.
SPS Future Teacher Scholarships
Deadline: March 15
This scholarship is for physics students who are intending to go on to become educators in the field. To qualify, you must be a member of SPS, complete an application packet including letters of recommendation, and state your intentions with regards to how you intend to teach physics.
Professional Gifted & Talented Education Organizations
Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented
This organization helps Texas G&T educators with resources, leadership opportunities, and conferences that inspire as well as foster fellowship. They are there to help both primary and secondary educators as well as the parents of gifted students. As a teacher, you might recommend membership to parents or your administrators.
United Federation of Teachers
The UFT is a teacher's union devoted to helping and supporting all educators. Membership in the UFT indicates that you are dedicated, not only to your students, but that you wish to support and strengthen your profession so that all educators can support students to the best of their abilities. As a member, you will receive health benefits, a pension plan, and a range of discounts and promotions.
Choosing an Accredited College
If you wish to succeed as a teacher, you must first graduate from an accredited college. Your state Board of Education will have a list of accepted institutions whose graduates will qualify for teaching credentials. Most education departments these days are acknowledged by their state's Board, but don't take this for granted. Confirm that your online degree will, in fact, lead to a teaching credential once you pass your Praxis exams and secure a teaching position.
Online vs On-Campus vs Hybrid
Education is increasingly moving online. In fact, you might end up teaching secondary courses online, so it's not out of the question that you achieve your bachelor's degree in Gifted and Talented education via electronic media. You can take online courses through a local public university or you might choose a national online institution. Before you enroll, however, make sure that your degree will be recognized by your state's Board. Most education programs will be able to confirm this, as well as offering resources that will help you achieve full licensure.
If, however, you choose an on-campus option, you will need to be certain that you can attend your classes when they are scheduled. That means working around your job's schedule as well as that of your family obligations. The upshot is that you will have face-to-face interactions with your fellow students as well as your instructors. In large lecture halls, however, you might only have real access to a teaching assistant.
To bridge the gap between online and on-campus education, hybrid programs have emerged. These are often seen at the master's level, but they are for undergraduates as well. In this structure, you will do the majority of your studying online, but then meet up periodically on campus or in some other real-world venue with your fellow students and faculty. The chief benefit seems to be that you have an opportunity to meet everyone in the program so that you can put a face to an online avatar and s opportunities to network with fellow students.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need work experience to start a master’s in this field?
Short answer, yes. Longer answer, it might depend on the program how much experience you need. Most master’s programs in education require at least two years of experience to get started, but some may ask that you have up to four years of experience before applying. This all depends on the school you attend, as each program sets up its own rules, so make sure to check with prospective schools before applying for any courses or programs in education.
Is this career a fit for you?
In many ways, teaching gifted students is the same as teaching other students. And, in other ways, it is completely different. Teachers in this arena need to be willing to go above and beyond as they decide which subjects to accelerate the learning time and which to focus in on. They may also need to make decisions about how to divide these students from other classes. Gifted students may be blended into the general class and only get short sessions of accelerated learning, or they may be removed into separate classes altogether. Teachers in this field need to be flexible to work in whatever environment their school district has set up for these exceptional students.
What courses might I take in a master’s for gifted and talented education?
A student earning a degree with this concentration will take all the regular courses you can expect from a master’s in education, with a few extra courses thrown in. These might include Applied Behavior Analysis to help them discover each students unique needs, Teacher Leadership to help them understand how to shift and implement new curriculum standards when necessary, a Practicum in Gifted and Talented Education, and any other courses needed to earn an endorsement.
Does the College Have Post-Graduate Job Placement Help & Assistance?
Your first concern as an education student is whether your program is recognized by the state Board of Education. Then, when you are ready, you will need some assurance that your department will host job fairs and offer other job-search resources. For instance, you will want to see that your department helps you put together a portfolio from your student teaching experience and that someone will help proofread and edit your resume.
Why You Need to Consider the Overall National Rankings of the College and The Effects on Your Career or Salary
While national rankings aren't quite as important for most educators, it will always be advantageous to attend the highest-ranked school you can. That's because you may one day wish to enroll in graduate school or move to another state. When your resume reflects a top-ranked school, your future principal will be happy to interview and hire you.