Teachers are at the front lines of education in the United States. From guiding preschoolers through fingerpainting to providing advice to a Ph.D. student on a final dissertation, teachers help lay the foundation of success for those in their classrooms. Associate degrees in teaching can be the stepping stone that leads to a wide variety of entry-level positions in the educational system, as well as an opportunity to earn experience and credits toward a higher degree.
Curriculum for associate degrees in teaching
Associate degrees in teaching can offer a background in educational knowledge and skills. Typical subjects include various educational disciplines, such as educational psychology, philosophy of education and early childhood development. Expect plenty of basic courses as well, such as mathematics, U.S. history, physical and earth sciences, English, literature, or psychology. The increasing importance of technology in schools means that courses in computer science and software applications are the norm in educational degree programs. Many programs require supervised teaching experience in order to earn the degree.
Career options, outlook and salary
Though earning a teaching license requires a bachelor's degree, associate degrees in teaching can be a great way to gain knowledge and experience. The Bureau of Statistics reports the following median annual wages for 2010 in some popular entry-level positions:
- Child care worker: $19,300
- Preschool teacher, except special education: $25,700
- Teacher assistant: $23,220
These positions show strong potential in the coming years, with teacher assistant job growth about equal to the U.S. average, and higher growth rates for preschool and child care professionals. The BLS projects these growth rates from 2010 to 2020:
- Child care workers: 20.4 percent
- Preschool teachers, except special education: 24.9 percent
- Teacher assistants: 14.8 percent
Preschool teaching generally requires a two-year degree, while a high school diploma is needed for child care and teacher assistant roles.
Going beyond the associate degree
A bachelor's degree is required for those who want to teach in public or private school systems. Public school teachers must be licensed. Those who want to teach at the secondary level usually hold a bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree in their chosen field of study, for example, in math or English. Earning a more advanced degree can also open doors to school administration positions. Online study programs allow those working in the educational system to continue gaining experience while pursuing a higher degree.