Learning doesn’t stop after high school or college: for many, it is a lifelong pursuit. Often, adults return to education to build their professional skills, change careers, or earn new degrees. With an online master’s degree in adult education, you will be able to support students as they pursue their goals in lifelong learning.
How a Master’s Degree in Adult Education Can Benefit Your Career
Adult education often provides learning opportunities to working professionals who typically have a strong educational background, so many organizations that seek out adult educators will have exacting standards. Corporate training centers, higher education institutions, and other resources for adult education are highly respected — and they expect the best of the best to teach adult learners. A master’s degree in adult education can send a message that you’re a well qualified candidate who is ready to join the team.
In addition to opening up teaching opportunities at the adult level, a master’s degree in adult education may make it possible for you to find positions in program development, curriculum and instruction, and education coordination. Graduates with a master’s degree in adult education often find opportunities as program directors, instructors, and education specialists.
Adult Education Degree Curriculum
Many institutions offer online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in education that are specifically focused on teaching adults. The coursework will prepare you with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively guide and instruct adult students in their educational pursuits. Courses may include:
- Educational Psychology
- Adult Learning Behaviors
- Instructional Design
- Educational Technology
Master’s degrees in adult education often have a specific focus as well, such as family literacy or corporate training. As a step toward state licensure, some online education programs partner with local institutions to provide candidates with a teaching practicum. A program coordinator should be able to provide you with more information.
Trends in Adult Education
Technology is changing the way many adult education courses are taught. E-books and rich multimedia are replacing print materials; course content is increasingly formatted for mobile devices and demand for online programs continues to grow. As of 2011, more than 75 percent of U.S. institutions offer some form of online classes.
Access to adult education continues to be an issue for many Americans. In February 2012, the Center for Law and Social Policy, Inc. reported that funding for adult education and English language services declined by 17 percent from 2002 to 2012. Demand for these classes, on the other hand, remains high: every state reported the existence of a waiting list for these services.
Furthermore, an increasing number of immigrants in the U.S. is likely to increase demand for ESL adult teachers. The Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education reports that ESL education for adults is the largest component of the adult education system, accounting for more than 40 percent of enrollments at community college, and making it the fastest growing program of any kind at many of these schools.
Adult Education Teaching Requirements
Requirements for adult education teachers vary. Many informal adult education programs may only require proof of knowledge and experience in a given subject, although others will ask to see specific professional credentials.
Additionally, if you are interested in becoming an ESL, adult literacy, or GED teacher, many states require you to have at least:
- A bachelor’s degree in education
- A teaching license, a certificate to work in government-run programs or a certificate in elementary or secondary education
- Student teaching experience
In certain fields, such as ESL, distance education or teaching adults with disabilities, an employer may insist that you attain a master’s degree or graduate certificate. Check with the employer or your state licensing authority if you are in doubt.
Careers in Adult Education
Unlike K-12 or higher education, careers in adult education are highly varied and may be found in a number of educational and institutional settings. Career opportunities in adult education include:
- extension schools and high schools
- literacy programs
- community colleges
- lifelong learning centers
- corporate training
- GED tutoring
- online education
Job responsibilities depend on an adult educator’s specific role. Some teaching positions require a great deal of one-on-one tutoring; others will involve small group sessions. An adult education teacher might mentor ex-offenders or demonstrate new technologies to the elderly. An evening and weekend teaching schedule is common, as these are times when many adults are not working.
Adult Education Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of adult literacy and GED teachers will grow by 9% from 2012 to 2022, fueled by continued immigration to the United States and demand for adult education programs. Many adults return to school to earn a diploma or GED and, due to a more competitive job market, many find that they need additional education to achieve their career goals.
Career prospects depend on the position, desired working hours (some adult education jobs may only be part-time) and your qualifications. Adult education teachers with an accredited master’s degree typically have more options. As an adult educator, you can expect to earn about $48,590 annually.