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missjena's avatar

Attention teachers! Which masters degree makes the most money?

Asked by missjena (905 points ) February 27th, 2009

I will have my BA degree and certification as a teach for grades 1–6 with general ed. I double majored in English. It will be time soon to get my masters and I want to get it in something that makes more money. What are good master programs? Which direction should I take? So far I hear early intervention, ABA, and special ed. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

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16 Answers

hearkat's avatar

First of all, you shouldn’t go into teaching, and especially not into Special Education, in order to earn a higher salary. Your motivation should be for the reward of helping young people learn. Working with kids, and especially with people who have special needs, takes A LOT of patience. You will not be happy in your job if you heart isn’t in it. And if you don’t genuinely care about the kids, they will be able to tell, and your job will become even more miserable.

One of my closest friends has his Master’s in English, and he teaches in an inner-city High School. Because of this location, the salaries run a bit higher than the cushier suburbs. That school district is also in a different Union than most of the teachers around the state. When he first went to that school, he experienced a culture shock. I was working in a hospital in another part of the city at that time, and I could relate well. Those kids have a tougher life than most of us could imagine, so academics mean little or nothing to them, and they are tough as nails. But he really is inspired by the handful of kids who genuinely take an interest and are motivated to keep moving ahead.

To the best of my knowledge, beyond Special Education or Inner-City settings, I always had the impression that a Master’s Degree earned the same (commensurate with years of experience) regardless of the subject matter. The best source of this information would be the teacher’s Union where you hope to work.

Again, I implore you to choose a career based on how much you will LOVE what you do, not on how much you will earn. I am speaking from experience and personal observations – I got my MA at 17 years ago. I dropped out of undergrad for a couple years and worked in clerical positions for a while. I realized that I would be miserable to have that for a long-term career, so I forced myself to go back to school, even though I couldn’t afford it and had no clue what I wanted to do. I took required courses, and for electives I took whatever seemed interesting to me, and that ultimately led me to my current career, which I love.

cwilbur's avatar

Most teachers’ unions have pay scales that are based on a combination of highest degree earned plus years of experience, with the actual degree not mattering that much.

Also, I’ll echo what @hearkat says—if you are choosing your area of specialization based on money and not on love, you’re going to be miserable as a teacher. You’re going to spend 10 to 12 hours a day every day dealing with the ramifications of your choice, and so choosing something you want to do is far more important than choosing something that will make you a lot of money, as far as long-term happiness goes.

missjena's avatar

@hearkat. Who said my heart wasn’t in it? Whoa that is quite an assumption. I would teach for pennies;however, since I’m already in it I was wondering which was the highest income. I’ve been wanting to teach my entire life and have already began and love children.I’m petty sure of the path I’m goingto go which is special education but I was curious of income. Children are my life. I’ve done charities for children with cancer, disabilities , and behavioral problems. I’ve also worked for free for after school programs. So my heart is in it and always will be. Just because I asked about income does not mean my heart is not in it. It means how much do they make. That’s it. So let’s get back to the original question shall we? Thanks for the other advice though.

missjena's avatar

Another reason for my question is I live in the most expensive county in the world. I work in a very difficult setting already so In order to live here I have to be able to afford it. In order to to what I love I have to be able to survive here at the same time. Unfortunately where I live is extremely expensive; however, I love the different cultures I am exposed to in the classroom.

miasmom's avatar

In my experience, the only way to make more money teaching, aside from years of experience and credit for courses, is to go into administration. That being said, the most versatile Master’s degree for you might be your administrative credential. It would leave open alot more doors down the road if it is something that interests you. I got my Master’s in Teaching and Curriculum and aside from the knowledge, it doesn’t open too many more doors, so, take it for what it’s worth…

Special Education is another area that needs good teachers and does pay more, but not as much as an Administrator.

missjena's avatar

Thank you miasmom I appreciate the advice. I was thinking about administration but that takes me out of the classroom and away from the students. So I don’t think I can do that but maybe one day.

hearkat's avatar

@missjena- I meant no offense. All the information I had to go on was what you included in your question. Since your original post focused solely on salary, you gave the impression that $$ was your top priority.

I am glad to hear that you do feel that teaching is your true vocation. My advice is still valid then, when it comes to selecting which subject you want to teach… You want something that you will enjoy repeating over and over, and to enjoy learning about when continuing your own education to stay current. And again, the kids (even those with cognitive and developmental issues) can tell when a teacher loves the subject or is just going through the motions. So choose wisely. :-)

@cwilbur thanks for confirming that the salary is based in degree and years of experience; I was pretty confident that the pay scale doesn’t differentiate between subjects.

miasmom's avatar

Since the payscale doesn’t differentiate between degrees, it makes a lot of sense to go the administration route just to cover all your bases…you might change your mind in 10 years and be happy that you don’t have to get another degree, on the other hand, you might not, but it won’t hurt you negatively because you’re earning extra dollars for those extra classes you took. That’s why I encourage you to really think about that.

Supergirl's avatar

In Seattle Schools payscale IS affected by your degree. You start off on a different tier if you have a Masters versus a BA. After that your pay is dependent on years of experience.

missjena's avatar

Anyone know where I can find that chart where it goes by state and then you see which degree and experience makes what? Can someone send me the link for the ny one if they have it.

hearkat's avatar

@Supergirl: Everyone is saying that the level of the degree effects salary, but not the actual subject that was majored in. I think the wording got mixed up. But it seems to be the same system around the country.

@missjena: Those charts come from the labor unions. Find out which union the teachers in your county (is it Westchester?) belong to and try to contact them. You might start on the State website and follow the education links (I’m on my iPhone and can’t copy/paste links): http://www.state.ny.us

missjena's avatar

thanks hearkat. I’ll check that out now.

missjena's avatar

I checked out that page; however, it’s not really showing that page I was looking for. I’m not sure, they might have it maybe I just can’t fine it.

hearkat's avatar

@missjena: I was just offering it as a starting point for you to research what the name is of the Teacher’s Union, and perhaps find contact information for that Union. It is highly likely that the salary chart is not easily available, although I’d guess it should be public record.

If I look into this via that website or a quick Google search and find the information in less than ten minutes, I’ll write back to tell you to demand a refund from your college (and High School, even if you went to Public school) – because you should have learned how to do research by now.

hearkat's avatar

http://www.nysut.org/ – NY State

http://www.uft.org/ – NY City Teachers Union Salary Schedules

You will probably have to contact someone at those Unions to get the salary chart. You could also ask your academic adviser at college to help you.

miasmom's avatar

In california, you can go to the school district web site and they usually post the pay scale for teachers, it might work the same in NY.

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