Is it better to get you masters before or after you are teaching?

Ever since I have decided to be a teacher I have heard contradicting opinions over whether or not I should get my masters degree before I start teaching. I have heard from a few other teachers that many schools do not like to hire teachers with their masters, who have not yet taught in a school. At the college I currently attend I can get my undergraduate and masters degree in five years. I would really like to get an overall idea of which path is better. If you have an experience to share that might help me in making my decision or would just like to share your thoughts that would be excellent! 


Tags: Degree, level

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I worked as a teacher before I went back to school, and I'm REALLY glad that I did because I had a greater understanding of what I needed from my education. I knew what would and wouldn't work, what questions to ask, what I wanted to focus on, etc. Plus, if your bachelor's is in education, it's always good to get your master's in another field -- especially one related to what you might want to teach, like math or science. That will help you prepare kids for what they will face when they get to college, if they go into a field like that. And it will give you a back-up if you get burned out or decide to take a break from teaching after a few years.


That said, if you can get your Master's with just one added year (and, thus, limited cost), it might be worth it. Just know that having a Master's won't make you more qualified -- experience will. In some ways, I think a college drop-out with 5 years of teaching experience might be better in the classroom than a PhD with no real-world experience. (Teach for America has proven that extensive knowledge about pedagogy isn't always necessary to become a good teacher.)


Good luck!


Katy Scott

Stretch Your Digital Dollar

Thanks Katy, your imput has been very helpful. I agree with you experience is always best. You have really made me consider what specifically I want to have my masters in. It is true I might not know until after I get out in the field. I am leaning more towards not getting my masters right away, but the convenience of getting it done in one extra year is very appealing.
I waited eight years to get my masters.  Yes, having the experience was good because I was more focused on what I wanted to do with this degree.  However, if you can get it in five years do it.  I agree with Katy that experience is great and  definitely pick another education area to get your masters in.  I went with educational technology.  If you don't want to have to much of problem getting a job right out of school special education is the way to go.  There is always a need for these teachers.  I would also suggest the math and science fields, too.  Good luck.
Thanks! I really appreciate your help! At this point I don't know for sure what I would get my masters in. The masters program at my school is for holistic education and not specific to a subject, which might be a reason I might want to wait. Thanks again for your input!

Dear Marissa,


I was told by a teacher that it is better to get your job first, before pursuing a Master's Degree.

Here were her reasons:

You are eligible for tuition re-imbursemment.

You'll have a better idea on choosing a topic of study!


It is easier to get hired with a bachelor's degree. You starting salary is lower!

Don't overlook the financial aspect. Money is always an important factor.


thank you John, 

This is exactly what I have heard from a few teachers. The specific topic of study is something I had not yet considered, but really need to. Originally I wanted to teach history, but I have since switched to K-6 with ESL k-12 licensure. Who knows, i might decide to go back to history or something entirely different. I will keep that in mind thanks! 

I agreed with the other comments and think you are better of starting teaching now, while you are coming out of uni with many ideas and hopefully enthusiasm. Depending on the school you are applying to work for I don't think a masters degree often makes a big impact when getting a job. I'm sure after so many years of studying you wouldn;t mind a break as well.


I am thinking about doing my masters degree next year in educational technology, which is different to my area of specialisation, but important in every subject today. Having been teaching now full time for 10 years I think I will enjoy and appreciate studying part time for 2 years a lot more than I would have tagging an extra year on fulltime straight out of university.

Hmm...very true, thanks Jeremy! It is true that after too long of studying about education I might loose my enthusiasm for it. I had not fully considered how much more I will appreciate the masters degree after being away from school for a while, and gaining experience. thanks again...very interesting perspective!
I have also wondered the same thing and am glad that I found this post with both sides of great advice.  I am an undergrad about to graduate and am still have mixed feelings about getting masters or not.  All replies have presented me with good advice and as of right now, I intend on hopefully teaching for a few years then looking into getting my masters.

I started within the education field with my Master's degree. I believe it was an asset in my getting hired. However, I knew and realized that experience within the classroom would make me an effective teacher based on the educational foundation that came from the academic work in pursuing the bachelor's and master's degrees. Of course the degrees are great but the experience and you working to improve yourself as a teacher is what will make you an effective teacher.


The pay difference in coming in with a Master's degree will be higher than that of a bachelor's. The amount depends on the district and state you work in. You having a master's degree would not keep an employer from higher you since your experience level still places you very close to the starting salary just 1 column over on a pay scale. 


I would say not to pass up a great opportunity in being able to acquire a higher degree with a unique program for less. As you begin to work the responsibilities of life can hinder the process (or place obstacles in your path) of you furthering your education. I think it is better to acquire now. I would and of course you could go back later to aquire a + 30, specialist degree, or a doctoral degree.   

Marissa, you have received a lot of input on this question so I believe I might as well weigh in too.  I began my Masters of Education after teaching for 7 years.  I realized at the time it would be a part-time process, cost more money than a one year post under grad degree, and be an infringement on my own class, coaching responsibilities and most importantly, my family.  (I had one child and twins on the way).  I was fortunate -- and still am -- to have an extremely supportive wife who maintained a full time jobe and everything else around the house as well.  She was the glue for sure.  Having gone this route I can safely say that I did the right thing for me.  Having taugth for 7 years, I new that was the direction I wanted my career to take. If you do it right after your undergrad, get out and finally get a job, then realize you don't truly love teaching, what then????  My other questions for you would be, why a master degree?  What purpose will a masters degree serve?  Are these means to an end or do you enjoy education?  Another option would be additional qualification courses.  Good luck in which ever direction you decide to pursue.



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