Between a master’s degree and a doctoral degree lies a special degree that can give teachers better income and a better understanding of their craft. The Education Specialist or “six-year” degree is offered by many college education departments as a compromise between a terminal master’s degree and the years of work required for a doctorate. For teachers who want to pursue a higher degree but simply cannot commit to the work of a doctoral program, this degree offers a fair compromise and can be built on later if the teacher decides to pursue an Ed. D. or PhD.
What Is an Education Specialist Degree?
In most curricula, an education specialist degree comprises about 27 semester hours of coursework and often features a capstone experience at the end of the course of study. This degree is a very specialized course of classes that focus on a particular area of education such as the use of technology, reading disorders, or special education. It is a higher degree than a master’s but does not involve the extensive coursework and dissertation process of a doctorate.
What Are the Benefits of an Educational Specialist Degree?
While each state has different protocols for pay scales and other benefits, in most states a specialist degree will mean a bigger paycheck for teachers. Six-year degrees often mean as much as a ten percent increase in income and may qualify teachers for higher-level positions such as academic coaching or even administrative jobs.
Further, a six-year degree allows teachers to study a topic in-depth without having to focus on non-essential classes. For example, a specialist in reading disorders takes about nine classes, all of them focused on reading theory and practice, in order to secure his or her degree.
What Can I Do With An Educational Specialist Degree?
Many teachers take their six-year degrees in order to receive a pay increase then stay in the classroom to use their new knowledge. However, some teachers have plans to move up into higher-level positions and need this degree to give them the necessary prerequisites for the job.
An educational specialist degree may also qualify teachers for unique educational positions such as a reading coach at an elementary school. This position combines both classroom teaching and administrative duties.
How Much Can I Earn With an Educational Specialist Degree?
Most states give raises based on years of service and level of degree, so those with an educational specialist or six-year degree will earn more money than those with a four-year or master’s degree and the same number of years of experience.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics cannot list one median salary for educational specialists because they occupy a variety of jobs. However, the BLS does list the annual median salary for instructional coordinators at $58,830 as of May of 2010. The BLS also noted that teachers who worked in elementary or secondary schools earned a median salary of $65,210, while those who worked with educational support services earned $59,230, and those who worked at junior colleges earned $54,490. Teachers at four-year colleges earned a median annual salary of $52,350.
Is the Job Outlook Promising for Teachers with Educational Specialist Degrees?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the job growth for teachers between 2010 and 2020 will be about 17 percent. This is slightly faster than average job growth for all occupations. Teachers with higher degrees are often sought for their knowledge and expertise; however, slashed education budgets may mean that these teachers may also take a slight pay cut or face being pushed out of the job market by less-qualified and less-expensive teachers.
In general, gaining a higher degree is helpful to a teacher who wants job security and the opportunity to move into a new position at some point.