Is Education a Good Major? Ultimate Guide

An education degree lets you teach students. Having one gives you a range of career opportunities, from early childhood teaching to special educational needs teaching.

Teaching different levels of learners requires education majors to meet different requirements depending on their career goals.

Those with an education major can make an average salary of $35,000 to $60,000 per year. However, only 4% of all bachelor’s degrees conferred in the US in 2019-2020 were in education, down from 19% in 2000-2001.

Wondering what sort of education degree to go for to become the educator of your preference?

We will talk about the different types of education degrees in this post, so read on!

elementary school teacher
Portrait Of Mature Female Teacher Or Student With Digital Tablet Working At Table In College Hall

Elementary Education

Elementary education is a very common degree for people to go into. There are many people who love the idea of being an elementary teacher for young students.

Some of the benefits of being a teacher include weekends off, summers off, the same schedule as kids (great benefit for a parent who wants/needs to work), and fun activities in the classroom every day!

Elementary teachers who work for public schools work for the government, which often means retirement benefits.

Most full-time elementary teachers will receive a pension and insurance for themselves and their families. This will likely include dental, medical, and vision. It is important to remember that this may vary depending on the school district you teach at.

Related Article: 19 Most Stressful College Majors and How Much They Pay

What To Do With An Elementary Education Degree?

Going to school to receive an elementary education degree is preparing students to become elementary teachers.

While this is the overall goal they are preparing students for, there are other, similar, paths that students can use their degree towards if the student does not want to become an elementary teacher.

All of these possible career choices can mostly be done with a bachelor’s in education. Depending on your state, they may require more education or qualifications for the job.

  • Preschool Director
  • Camp Director
  • Tutoring
  • Student Life Cordinator/ Director
  • Home School Consultant
  • Curriculum Representative and Sales
  • After School Program Director
  • Life Coach
  • Nanny
  • Education Policy and Research
  • Corperate Trainer
  • Recreation Director
  • Middle School Teacher

With this being said for our purposes, we will focus on the career choice of becoming an elementary education teacher for now.

How Much Does An Elementary Teacher Make?

One thing that is important to remember when going to the public education field (elementary through high school), is the salary depends upon the state and the district you are teaching at.

Below is a comparison of the states for how much public educators (teachers) make as a yearly salary.

StateAverage Yearly Salary
New Hampshire$60,003
New Jersey$76,376
New Mexico$54,256
New York$87,543
North Carolina$54,682
North Dakota$52,328
Rhode Island$67,323
South Carolina$51,485
South Dakota$49,220
West Virginia$50,238

Information and facts found for the chart above were from

When comparing the yearly salary of a teacher to the other states, it is important to consider the cost of living for the state.

California seems to pay their teachers very well at almost $85,000 a year, but the cost is higher than let’s say Idaho who pays their teachers about $53,000 a year.

Another factor to consider when comparing prices is the schooling and requirements that go into becoming a teacher.


How to Make More Money As An Elementary Teacher

While there are many benefits to being a teacher, one of the biggest downfalls for most people (depending on the state) is the pay.

For a lot of people, a teacher’s salary is not enough to live a comfortable life with.

They need to be making more money on the side. In a stable marriage or relationship, the other partner’s income is the only other source of money they need to survive.

Unfortunately, this is not always sustainable for all. How can teachers make more money?

One of the most popular ways teachers make more money is by running the extracurricular activities that the school puts on.

Most schools will have different activities and clubs that are held for the students before or after school hours that teachers can get paid to run and put on. These extracurriculars include after-school activities, sports, and tutoring.

On a forum of teachers sharing their experience of making money on the side, one person shares how they grade papers and tests over the summer.

Another person shares how they work for a recreation center in their city, putting on the activities and sports that the city puts on (children’s sports).

They mentioned how the pay is only barely over minimum wage, but they are working for the city which means they are making money for their retirement.

There was another person who talked about being a reseller on Amazon as their side business.

Another very popular job for teachers is having some sort of side job during the summer. Having summers off is really nice for teachers who need to be making more money because they can work a second job over the 3-month break they are free.

Teachers will either find their own side job in town or will work for the school over the summer teaching summer school.

How To Become An Elementary Education Teacher

Just as the pay varies depending on the state you are teaching at, so do the requirements.

When going into the elementary education program, the state you are completing your degree from will ensure you complete all of the requirements to be certified to teach in that state.

This is why it is important to think about where you eventually want to end up before going to college. It is smart to find a college in the state you intend on staying in to complete your degree.

This eliminates any extra testing or courses you would have to take to meet the requirements for a different state.

Some states will only require students to complete a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and pass the state certification test. Others may require more testing in advanced subjects.

Some states require a Master’s degree in Elementary Education to teach. When comparing the requirements between different states, it is smart to do personal research for the state and possibly even the specific district you are planning on teaching at.

If you plan on teaching in the state you are currently living in and attending college in, speak with a guidance counselor or an academic counselor. They will be able to help you ensure you are meeting all the requirements to be certified to teach in the state.

Many colleges also have clubs or gathering for elementary education majors and other education majors.

These clubs and organizations meet together throughout the semester to help students ensure they are on the right path. These organizations also really help students who want more experience and need help finding opportunities.

Related Article: How to Become a Licensed Therapist?

Secondary Education

Students who receive their degree in secondary education are those who want to become middle school or high school teachers. There are many people who want to become a secondary education teacher because they love a certain subject.

teacher and kids

One of the main differences between an elementary education major or a secondary education major is the grade they want to teach and the subject. Secondary education is more specific in a certain subject. These teachers will be teaching middle school to high school-age students.

While comparing secondary education to other education degrees, one thing you will notice is the similarity between elementary education and secondary education. Keep this in mind while reading and comparing the two education degrees.

What To Do With A Secondary Education Degree?

Similar to the elementary education degree, receiving a secondary education degree can be used and applied to a variety of different careers. Most of these careers will align with the same general idea of working with kids/youth and/or teaching.

The other careers that can be done with a secondary education degree are listed above under “Elementary Education- What To Do With An Elementary Education Degree?”.

Both of these degrees lead to very similar careers because they are both focused on teaching children or youth.

One thing that most people do not realize is receiving either an elementary or secondary education degree qualifies you to teach middle school.

Both degrees require teachers to choose an “emphasis” or “minor” to complete along with their education major. This emphasis or minor is the subject they are certified to teach.

Different majors open more opportunities for career choices aside from teaching.

While there are multiple different options for elementary and secondary teachers to choose from for their minor, the main fields of emphasis include English, math, social studies, and science.

Below are a few different career options aside from being a teacher for each of the emphasis options.

Emphasis/ MinorOther Career Options
EnglishCommercial Writing
Freelance Writing
Technical Writing
Manuscript Reader
MathAuditing Clerk
Social StudiesJudicial Worker
Social Worker
Social Service Manager
Community Service Manager
ScienceChemical Technician
Research Lab Manager
Tech Trainee

*Note*: It is important to remember that the above list of other career choices may require more education or requirements to be qualified to complete the job and be hired. This is simply a list of possible paths that one could take when comparing job and career opportunities.

How Much Does A Secondary Education Teacher Make?

Those who go into secondary education often get hired from a public school district. Being an employee of a public school district means they are employees of the state government. This shows in the pay that teachers make depending on their state’s programs and guidelines.

Elementary education teachers who are working for the same school district as a secondary education teachers with the same education level will get paid the same.

To compare how much teachers averagely make in each state, refer to the chart under “Elementary Education- How Much Does An Elementary Education Teacher Make”.

How To Make More Money As a Secondary Education Teacher

As previously discussed under Elementary Education, there are many different ways that public education teachers can make more money.

Secondary education teachers often have more opportunities to earn more money through the school because of the larger variety of student events and opportunities.

Most secondary education teachers, both middle school and high school teachers, will also have a second job through the school in an extracurricular activity.

It is important to remember that not all schools pay teachers for all extracurricular activities.

This is dependant upon the contract that the teacher has with the school and district. It all depends on the qualifications the teacher holds and the job openings that are available throughout the school year for teachers to fill along with their normal teaching duties.

art teacher

Many schools have extracurricular activities to occupy students, and even better give the teachers more job opportunities. Some of the extracurriculars most schools offer for teachers to work in include:

  • Sports Coach
    • Football
    • Soccer
    • Cheerleading
    • Track
    • Cross Country
    • Wrestling
    • Rugby
    • LaCrosse
    • Volleyball
    • Basketball
  • Assitant Coach
  • Driver’s Ed Teacher
    • Not all high schools offer driver’s education but those that do will likely hire teachers who are willing to get certified to teach driver’s education.
  • Club Manager
    • National Junior Honor Society
    • National Honor Society
    • Key Club
    • Student Counsel
    • Speech and Debate
    • Science Olympiad
    • Mock Trial
    • Language Club

Read Also: Communications Degree [Stereotypes and Job Prospects]

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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