Your Complete Guide to

Online Education & Teaching Degrees

The best programs in teaching and education, benefits, list of universities, rankings, FAQs and everything you ever wanted to know.
Grant Aldrich on March 13, 2023

Why We Love Them

  • High Job Satisfaction
  • Meaningful Work
  • Interesting Subjects

More and more adults are deciding to go back to school to earn their degree, and for good reason. Higher education is a great way to improve your life and the financial security of your family and everybody deserves a shot at it. But which degree is right for you and which has the ability to set you up for a lucrative and rewarding career?

Teaching degrees are a great option for those looking for a career change. There will never be a shortage of students in need of instruction, so obtaining an education degree will provide you with skills that are always in demand.

In this article, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about earning a teaching degree. You’ll learn the best online teaching degrees that offer the biggest career potential. We’ll also compare online programs with traditional programs, and take a look at the differences between Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral and PhD degrees.

We encourage you to read this ENTIRE article because we’re also going to tell you exactly how could help you save time and money toward your tuition.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

5 Best Online Teaching and Education Degrees

Before we discuss the specific online teaching degrees to focus on, let’s first talk about WHY we believe these degrees are the best.

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They are Economy-Proofed!

What does it mean for a profession to be economy proofed? As we just mentioned, there will always be a need for teachers. Because of the nature of the field, the demand for trained educators is always high. On the other hand, there are places where this demand is not fully met. This means the field comes with job security and in fact is a fertile ground for growth and career advancement.

Additionally, knowing that they are influencing their students’ lives greatly will also bring a great deal of satisfaction for many in the field.

Career Changers

If you are a working adult that has been thinking about changing careers, these degrees can set you on a new career path, one with stability, solid pay and lots of vacation time to spend with your family. Teaching is also a very rewarding career, giving back to students and learners and setting them on their path to success.

These Degrees are Flexible and Affordable

We’ve chosen online degrees because they allow busy working adults with family obligations the opportunity to make a positive change in their lives. Online learning programs cost less than traditional brick and mortar education and come with increased flexibility in how you learn and when you learn. The self-paced element of online learning allows students to set their own schedule, offering greater freedom to manage their various personal and professional responsibilities.

Plus, you can study wherever and whenever is most convenient for YOU. The demand for online education and learning is on the rise and there is no reason why you should miss out.

Now that you know why we chose the online teaching degrees we did, let’s dive in:

Early Childhood Education

Earning a bachelor of science in early childhood education will prepare you for a rewarding career teaching very young children, usually toddlers to preschoolers. Upon graduation, you will have the ability to work in a variety of settings, including daycares, preschools, and Head Start programs around the country. And, if you so choose, you may also be able to move into a director position later in your career. Not only are there a lot of options for where you want to work but also plenty of opportunities to advance. 

Beyond learning to care for young children, this degree will help you understand exactly how to develop a curriculum that enhances student learning based on their age. It will also allow you to identify behavioral and learning disabilities and how to work with parents to support the students’ overall well-being so they may thrive. Engaging yourself in nurture and education for young children can be a life-changing experience.

Those graduates who decide they want to make a change and teach elementary school later in their career may be able to become licensed by completing a one-year transition to a teaching program. With easy upgrades, there are a lot of opportunities to make progress in your career.

Career Trajectory

Over the decades it has become increasingly important for both adults in the household to work. This has increased the demand for early childhood care. With the shaky economy requiring both the adults in the family to be committed to work, this trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

No matter the state of the world, the need for early childhood education continues to grow. This ensures a constant demand for trained and motivated professionals in the field. Because of the nature of the work, qualified professionals will always stand out and be rewarded. Not only is there professional growth, but also the pride and satisfaction of bringing positive change in the world.

This means the future looks bright for those candidates with a bachelor of science in early childhood education.

In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of preschool teachers is expected to grow 15% from 2021 to 2031. Also according to the BLS, the median annual wage for preschool teachers was $30,210 in May 2021.


For those interested in working with older children, we recommend obtaining a bachelor of science degree in education. This will provide you with the skills and knowledge to teach in both public and private elementary, middle, and high schools.

A BS in Education will also allow you to choose an area of focus that will dictate what age groups and subjects you’ll be qualified to teach. There are more chances for specialisation. For instance, elementary school teachers teach all subjects to one single class, while middle and high school teachers focus on one or two subjects. So, if your passion is helping kids learn, you may want to become an elementary school teacher. But if your passion has always been helping kids learn history, then perhaps becoming a junior high history teacher would be a better career path. There is an entire spectrum of specialisation as well as career advancements. 

Once graduates have gained some experience in the classroom, they may decide to continue their education to pursue a leadership position, such as assistant principal, principal, and school superintendent. 

What the Future Holds with This Degree

Just as there is with early childhood educators, there is always a need for qualified elementary and secondary teachers. Graduates can earn a great living working as substitute teachers, temporary teachers, and, of course, full-time staffed teachers for students in grades K-high school. There is a lot of room to experiment with how you want to proceed with your career.

According to the BLS, the employment of elementary and high school teachers is expected to grow 8% between 2020 and 2030. The median annual wage for elementary school teachers was $61,400 in May 2021, while the median annual age for high school teachers was $61,820 in May 2021.

Special Education

A Bachelor of Science degree in special education will give you the tools needed to provide instruction to students with special needs and learning disabilities. These teachers work either in groups or one-on-one with students who may have autism spectrum disorders, attention-deficit disorders, or other behavioral, learning, or emotional disabilities.

It’s a challenging field but offers plenty of personal growth and fulfillment. It brings great personal satisfaction, knowing the difference that their work is making in the lives of the students but also in society at large. In this program, you will learn how to recognize learning disorders as well as how to develop cohesive teaching plans that cater to the students’ special needs.

Graduates with this degree have two career paths to choose from: you may either choose to work in daycares or hospitals caring for these children, or you may choose to teach classes in elementary, middle, and high schools.

What Will Your Career Look Like?

In this country, there are laws that make it mandatory for educational opportunities to be offered to disabled students. Because of this, there is always a demand for qualified, patient, and caring educators for special needs children and teens.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S., the overall employment of special education teachers is projected to grow 4% from 2021 to 2031. Having said this, we will see particular demand for preschool education special needs teachers. This greater demand is due to the fact that now disabilities are being identified earlier in a child’s life with special education teachers becoming involved in learning and development from an early age.

It is also worth mentioning that federal law requires each state to maintain the same level of financial support for special education each year.  This means there is less potential for layoffs of these educators due to state or federal budget constraints. 

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for special education teachers was $61,820 in May 2021.

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English as a Second Language (ESL)

A BS in English as a second language (ESL) will set you up for a very rewarding career in either the United States or abroad. You may also choose to teach English to non-native children in elementary, middle, or high school, or you may choose to teach English to adult immigrants or visa-holders in colleges or non-profit education organizations. Not only are there great career prospects but it is a highly interesting field since you meet people around the world, from different cultures and countries.

What Kind of Job Security Can You Expect?

Because ESL teachers help immigrants to effectively communicate and thrive in our country, there will always be high demand for these professionals. Also, there are plenty of opportunities in other countries as well. ESL teachers are often hired to work in foreign countries teaching students English as a second language. If you’re someone interested in meeting new people and going to new places, this should be worth considering.

Graduates may find more job openings in states with larger non-native English populations such as Texas, California, Florida and New York. Though the BLS does not currently provide projections for ESL teachers, it does estimate a 4% increase in employment for elementary teachers and 5% increase in high school educators by 2031. The BLS reported the median annual salary for elementary school and high school teachers is $61,400 and $61,820 respectively. The BLS also reports that adult literacy teachers, a category that would include ESL teachers, earn an annual median salary of $59,720.


If you’re someone that has always been good with numbers or has always had a fascination for math, then obtaining a bachelor of science in mathematics may be the best choice for you. Graduates in mathematics have many different career paths. You can choose to go into finance, accounting, or even computer programming.

A mathematics major offers a solid basis for students looking to pursue graduate degrees in computer science, computational mathematics, or engineering. A degree in mathematics can open up numerous possibilities for career growth and progress as it equips students with the much needed that are valued across every industry. Whether its technological developments, the field of finance, or working with the government, starting with a degree will always ensure you have a solid ground to build on.

Math majors learn multiple mathematics disciplines. You will grow and refine your skills in algebra, calculus, trigonometry, finite math, and statistics, as well as learn how to use these new skills to develop complex algorithms, predict and avoid risk and analyze big data to help businesses identify meaningful insights. Of course, many graduates will choose to share their passion for math with others by teaching math for a living. It’s an exciting and fruitful field.

Career & Salary Outlook

Because a BS degree in mathematics is flexible and can lead to a variety of career paths in numerous industries, the job outlook for graduates is very bright! Whether you choose to use your degree to earn a position in a fast-growing field like technology or healthcare, assist businesses with their data or finances, or help children and teens learn to love math, employment opportunities abound. Math graduates never go out of work because of the valuable knowledge and skills they have.

Online Vs Traditional Campus Teaching Degrees

You may be wondering why we are focusing solely on teaching degrees that may be obtained online. It’s because we know that working adults have a hard time committing to attending regular classes offered at brick & mortar schools. Even if there is a local community college in your area that offers classes on nights and/or weekends, chances are you’ll still find it challenging to keep up with schoolwork while working full time and taking part in family activities like soccer games and recitals. Online education helps get rid of these and many other problems for working adults.

Here are 3 reasons why an online degree makes a LOT more sense for busy adults:

  1. You Decide When You Study

An online degree offers flexibility first and foremost. If you can only study for an hour on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, then that’s when you study. You can study from the convenience of your living room or take your laptop to a nearby café and study there. You dictate when and how you will learn. Unlike learning that takes place in a traditional school with a fixed schedule.

This added flexibility that comes with online learning allows working professionals and financially struggling students to advance their education without falling any major interruptions in their personal and professional lives.

  1. Online Degrees are Far more Affordable

Compared to programs offered on traditional college campuses, online teaching degrees are typically far more affordable to obtain. On top of these savings, online degrees also don’t require the cost of room and board, or even gas money to get to campus! As an added bonus, you can continue to work while you pursue your degree.

  1. Teaching Degrees Fit Online Learning Perfectly!

Thanks to advancements in technology, a person can study just about any subject online. Unlike some degrees, such as those in certain science fields that require lab work, the field of education is perfect for online learning. Programs in education can easily be taught through online platforms without having any practical side of learning and training compromised. Advanced learning platforms are capable of offering hands-on experiences through the use of virtual teaching simulations.

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Benefits of a Teaching Degree

Most of us can think back to our school days and remember a teacher that inspired us to become our best selves. And it is usually these people that encourage many of us to become teachers as adults or inspire us to take on many other professional roles as well. Their contribution is immense and so will yours. 

But beyond making positive impacts on the lives of young children, there are some other benefits of obtaining your teaching degree:

You’ll Earn a Solid Paycheck

While we’re sure we can all agree that the education and support teachers offer our kids is invaluable, the truth is, you can make a very nice living as a teacher. In fact, according to the BLS, public-school teachers are actually paid about 11% more than the average professional worker. It’s also worth mentioning that teaching careers offer numerous opportunities for advancement and we’ll talk about some of these paths in just a bit.

Excellent Benefits as Well

Pension plans and health benefits used to be a regular part of being a working professional, but these days they are becoming a rare commodity. But as a teacher, you can rely on both a fantastic health insurance plan (with premiums typically paid by the school district) as well as receiving a pension after retirement.

In addition to professional advancement, teaching is also a profession that comes with fulfillment on a personal level. Overall, the profession is one that offers a sense of security in all forms.

Tons of Time Off

How do you like the idea of having a winter break off? Spring break off? Snow days off and 2 months off in the summer? If you have your own young family and it’s important for you to have this time off to spend with them, then a career as a teacher will help you live the lifestyle you want. As a teacher, never miss out on any of your child’s vacations and holidays.

Cost and Tuition of Obtaining a Teaching Degree

 The sad reality is that many adult students forego pursuing their dream of higher education because of the cost factors. But the truth is, there are a lot of different ways you can save significant money toward your college tuition.

We recommend you take a few minutes to read our article on 5 ways you can save on college tuition. Also, use our free Smartplan to find ways to save at various schools across the country by taking advantage of free courses, discounts and more. In fact, that’s why we created so that everyone could have access to an affordable education.

Choosing the Right Type of Teaching Degree

Deciding to earn a degree in education is just your first step toward your chosen career. You’ve next got to decide what type of degree is the right one that will help you reach your goals.

Let’s look at the different types of education degrees offered.

Associate’s Degree in Education

An associate’s degree is a two-year degree normally earned at a vocational school or community college, though there are online associate’s degrees as well. Earning an associate’s degree in education can help you enter the classroom as quickly as possible.

Right from the start, an associate’s degree opens doors, whether by offering a solid foundation, to begin with, or in the form of career advancement, or whether providing the option to pursue higher education such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree down the road.

It’s also important to mention that an associate’s degree is not enough to become a licensed teacher. The degree can help you become a teaching assistant and get some hands-on experience in the classroom to know if you are suited for a career in teaching. But if becoming a teacher is your overall goal, then you’ll need to obtain your bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Education

All of the degrees we covered in this article were bachelor’s degrees. These degrees take 4 years to complete and provide a student with the foundational knowledge required to enter the workforce in a particular field. Typically, the first two years of the program are spent learning a broad range of subjects covering everything from math, science and history to communication and foreign languages. 

Something we do want to mention is that any bachelor’s degree will qualify you to get credentialed. So there is no reason to sweat a specific education degree. What’s more important is to choose the right school (we can help so keep reading!) and a subject you like.

Master’s Degree in Education

A master’s degree is an advanced degree you may wish to obtain once you have completed your bachelor’s degree in your chosen area of study. Master’s programs are highly specialized and typically require another two to four years of coursework.

Many teachers, once they’ve gained some years of experience, decide they want to advance their careers while at the same time increasing their earning potential. For instance, if you have a goal of working in school administration as a principal or school counselor, then obtaining your master’s degree will be required.

Doctorate Degree

The most advanced degree you can earn is a doctorate. Graduates holding this degree are usually regarded as experts in their chosen fields. Educators who wish to have a wide array of career options that focus on research, writing, publishing, administration, or management will need to obtain their doctorate degrees.

Earning a doctorate degree is not easy! Typically, a student will need to spend an additional four years (at least) to earn their degree.

It should be mentioned there are two types of doctorates:

Doctor of Philosophy Degrees

These degrees are commonly referred to as PhD degrees and their focus is to teach students how to discover new knowledge within their academic discipline.

Professional or Clinical Doctorates

These degrees are designed to give people the practical skills necessary to be leaders within their chosen field. A Doctor of Education degree, which is usually called an Ed.D., will help you move into senior administration positions. This means you could become a dean at a college, as an example, and significantly raise your annual salary.

Choosing the Correct University or College for Teaching

 Now that you have a good idea of which online teaching degree interests you, it’s time to find the right school to help you reach your career goals. We know all-too-well how challenging it can be to compare and contrast schools to determine which ones should be in the running.

Here are a few things we’ve learned over the years about what makes a school a good fit for adult students: 

  • They offer online programs
  • $0 application fees
  • They also don’t require SAT/ACT testing scores
  • Faculty and professors understand adult students’ needs
  • They offer discounts or scholarships
  • They have convenient enrollment dates year-round (so you don’t have to wait for Spring or Fall)
  • They are accredited

Finding adult-friendly schools that match these can certainly be challenging! That’s why we created our Smartplan.  

We realize that every student has unique circumstances and goals. When you use our Smartplan, we could help you find the right school you’re looking for AND one that has these crucial criteria to make pursuing your degree that much easier.

Register today to get your free Smartplan and compare different colleges! >>

Salary Data for Educators and Teachers 

Let’s take another look at some of the salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for some of the teaching positions available once you’ve earned one of these education degrees:

High School Teachers: The median annual wage for high school teachers was $69,530 in May 2021.

Postsecondary Teachers: The median annual wage for postsecondary teachers was $79,640 in May 2021.

Elementary Teachers: The median annual wage for elementary school teachers was $61,400 in May 2021.

Preschool Teachers: The median annual wage for preschool teachers was $30,210 in May 2021.

Special Education Teachers: The median annual wage for special education teachers was $61,820 in May 2021.

The median annual wage for adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers was $59,720 in May 2019.


Q: Do I have what it takes to be a good teacher?

A: Well, we obviously don’t know you personally, but we can tell you some of the skills and personality traits that great teachers possess. First, it takes dedication to develop the skills you will need to help children and adults thrive. You also need to have a passion to genuinely connect with and help others. You’ll need critical thinking skills, patience, and creativity as well. If you think you have what it takes, then we recommend using our Smartplan to get started today on earning your teaching degree!

Q: Should I earn a Master’s degree?

A: There is no one right career path in the education field. Many people choose to focus on earning their bachelor’s degree so they can become licensed and start working as a teacher. Once you have taught for several years, you can decide whether you love being in the classroom or whether you feel your skills would be better suited in administration. If you feel the latter, then at that point you can go for your Master’s or doctorate degree.

Q: How do I set my career up for success?

A: The best thing you can do is to ensure you get the best education possible. A solid education will provide you with the skills and knowledge to land a great teaching job.

How to Get Started 

Wow, we’ve just covered a LOT of information. You may be wondering what you should do next.

We highly recommend you take a few moments to use’s Smartplan to find the right school that offers all of the criteria you’re looking for.   We’ve provided this helpful and free tool for you to help you make the right decision, and find ways that could end up saving you THOUSANDS of dollars toward your business degree!

Register today for free >>


About the Author
Grant Aldrich
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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