Career Pathway: Education

Pathway Overview

Why an M.A., TESOL, or an Ed.D?

  • Versatility of career and geographical options
  • Booming field
  • Desirable payscale

Obtaining an advanced education degree prepares students to take leadership positions in education and administration. Degree holders apply essential principles of teaching and learning to manage the dynamics of education on a large scale. The program is designed for experienced educators and other professionals interested in learning and development, educational consulting, TESOL, adult learning facilitation, curriculum development, K-12 teaching, and K-12 school system administration.

In addition to traditional paths in education administration, graduates may find rewarding careers in human resources, organizational development, and training in a multitude of environments. Training and development aims to better job performance of individuals and groups in organizational settings, typically by observing behaviors and identifying opportunities for growth in line with an organization or company’s goals. Learning and development or organizational development professionals then devise and facilitate trainings to maximize human potential.

Career Pathways: Organizational Change and Leadership

Career Pathways: School Counseling

Certifications or Licenses

You can find teacher certification requirements by state on 

For students interested in earning a TESOL certification or grants, the TESOL International Association is an excellent resource. 

Requirements for principal certification licensing vary by state.

For students interested in learning and development, instructional design certifications, such as the one from the Association of Talent Development (ATD), are helpful.

In-Demand Skills

Ultimately, your ability to land a specific role rests on your experience and educational background as well as your proficiency in these skills below.

Transferable Skills and Qualities

  • Detail-Oriented
  • Microsoft Office Adept
  • Collaborative
  • Critical Thinking
  • Adobe Creative Suite Proficient
  • Deadline-Oriented
  • Organized
  • Budget Conscious
  • Calendar Management
  • Project-Management Focused
  • Quality Assurance Proficient
  • Training Adept
  • Communicative

Pedagogy/Industry Skills (Field-Specific)

  • Instructional and Curriculum Design
  • Teaching
  • Education Administration
  • Content Development/Management
  • Graphic and Visual Design
  • Information Technology: Web Design
  • Audio ProductionVisual Design Production
  • Project Management


  • Virtual learning technologies
  • Schoology
  • Google Classroom
  • Blackboard
  • Learning Management Systems
  • WordPress
  • TurnItIn

Job Descriptions 

Note: This is a basic guide to kick-start exploration, not a complete list of all paths. See specific job descriptions for more details. In addition, titles such as Instructional designer, curriculum developer, etc., are sometimes used interchangeably. The title may change the level of the position, for example, Learning Experience Designer II or Senior often indicates mid-level vs. entry-level. 

K-12 Teaching

Teachers are frontline workers in the education field. They teach children at varying levels and in various subject areas. They create engaging lesson plans, monitor student progress, and track student achievement outcomes while also motivating, inspiring, and leading students toward positive academic, emotional, and vocational outcomes.

Primary School Teachers 

Primary school teachers work with students in Grades K-5. They teach a variety of subjects, including reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. These teachers are typically the first point of contact for students and parents and take attendance, manage classroom behavior, and supervise students during transition periods in the school day.

Middle or High School Teachers

Middle or high school teachers work with students in Grades 6-8 and focus on one or multiple subject area(s), such as math, science, English, history, or foreign languages. They create lesson plans, teach a group of students, assign activities and homework, and grade assignments. 

Lead Teachers 

Lead teachers can work at any level of K-12 schools to guide other teachers. Lead teachers communicate with parents about their child’s progress and create action plans for addressing issues in behavior or academic performance. They develop worksheets and activities to help each student engage with educational content. Outside of the classroom, they supervise lunch, recess, field trips, and passing periods. 

English Language Learner (ELL) Teachers  

English language learner (ELL) teachers are language experts within the school building. They help non-native English speakers improve proficiency in English writing, reading, and speaking through one-on-one and group instruction. English language learner (ELL) coordinators help schools develop and implement ELL programs, which may include daytime and after-school support, activities, and programs.

Special Education Teachers 

Special education teachers manage and implement support for students with disabilities (physical, cognitive, developmental, etc.), including creating 504 plans and/or individualized education programs (IEPs), and ensuring that the support for those plans is implemented and documented. Special education teachers convene and run the 504 and IEP committees, which may include school administrators, school counselors, special education staff, school psychologists, teachers, parents, and students. 

Gifted Education Teachers 

Gifted education teachers assess and identify students to participate in gifted and talented programs. Gifted and talented programs provide an advanced and differentiated educational experience for students to work at their ability levels, which are typically above grade level. 

Bilingual Education Teachers 

Bilingual education teachers teach at schools that have bilingual programs. Bilingual teachers provide instruction in both English and the designated second language, which could be Spanish, Mandarin, French, etc.

Organizations where K-12 teachers may work:

  • K-12 public schools
  • Charter schools
  • Private or independent schools 
  • Educational consulting organizations

Entry-level Job Title Examples: Second-Grade Teacher, High School Physics Teacher, Middle School Math Teacher, Special Education Teacher – Elementary, ESL Teacher

Future Roles: Lead Teacher, Fifth-Grade Math Lead, Curriculum Specialist – English, TESOL Assistant Professor, Learning Consultant, Curriculum Developer I-II, Dean of Curriculum – First Grade

Relevant Licenses: Teaching credentials vary by state

Relevant Professional Associations: Association of American Educators, National Education Association, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Association for Middle Level Education, National Association of Independents Schools, National Association for Gifted Children, and more

K-12 Leadership

K-12 schools leaders run schools and school districts and are ultimately responsible for the educational outcomes of their students. Leaders use evidence-based practices to assess and improve learning. Leaders typically supervise school staff and are responsible for hiring, training, and performance evaluations. They also ensure that schools comply with federal, state, and school-district regulations and policies. 


Principals provide administrative leadership to school staff as well as other stakeholders by managing a school team, and overseeing financials and facilities. Principals improve outcomes through strategically planned, standards-based approaches that focus on narrowing achievement gaps. This position provides leadership in the areas of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and planning. 

Assistant Principals

Assistant principals help the principal lead the school and provide direct coaching and support to the instructional leadership team and individual teachers. Depending on the school, assistant principals may also manage behavioral issues, support specific grade levels, interface with parents, and manage the school-wide calendar. The number of assistant principals at a school depends on the school size.


Deans work as part of the school leadership team and often focus on one specific aspect of the school, such as culture, instruction, operations, or student services. Depending on the specific role, they may plan school-wide events to foster a positive school culture, supervise school operations staff, or implement instructional improvements to raise educational outcomes.


Superintendents work at the school district level and are accountable for elevating student outcomes and overall performance across all schools in a district. Superintendents focus on achievement and graduation rates, as well as decreasing dropout rates, closing achievement gaps, and increasing the number of students matriculating to college.

Organizations where K-12 leaders may work:

  • Public school districts 
  • K-12 public schools
  • Charter schools
  • Private or independent schools 
  • Education consulting organizations

Entry-level Job Title Examples: Dean of Culture, Dean of Curriculum, Assistant Principal, Assistant Principal of Operations

Future Roles: High School Principal, Elementary School Principal, Superintendent

Relevant Licenses: Principal licensure requirements vary by state

Relevant Professional Association: National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)

Higher Education

Higher education professionals focus on student success in colleges and universities. Higher education professionals span a wide range of areas, including instruction, research, academic affairs, and student affairs. Within those functional areas, many specific units, departments, and centers exist, such as academic advising, admissions, counseling services, residential life, career services, student organizations, health and wellness services, multicultural services, library services, disability support services, facilities management, finance, human resources, and other student support services. These wide-ranging functions focus on different aspects of university operations or the student experience, but all require high-quality leaders.

Organization where higher education professionals may work:

  • State universities 
  • Private colleges
  • Community colleges 
  • Online educational programs

Job Title Examples: Academic Advisor, Admissions Counselor, Career Advisor, Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning Center, Finance Budget Analyst, Events Coordinatorgner, Training, Project Management

Future Roles: Director of Career Services, Dean of Admissions, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students, Vice President of Student Affairs, Associate Provost 

Relevant Licenses: N/A

Relevant Professional Associations: American Council on Education (ACE), Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), and more

Instructional Design

Instructional design focuses on creating instructional materials, often in an online learning environment; though, IDs can work in in-person instruction or a hybrid of both. Instructional designers study the principles of online and in-person learning, the process of creating effective materials, and the tools and technology needed to create them. Instructional designers can be found in both education and corporate settings. 

Instructional Designers

Instructional designers create content to educate students, staff, or clients on a wide-variety of topics. They often partner with a subject-matter expert (SME) to help them write learning objectives and design the most effective method to teach specified content. In the education sector, instructional designers often work 1:1 with professors on specific courses and provide educational workshops and training about effective teaching methods both online and in-person. In the corporate sector, instructional designers work internally with teams across the organization to build training content, explore new training methods, and build eLearning education solutions to serve wide-ranging audiences. 

Senior Instructional Designers

Senior instructional designers often manage a team of instructional designers and work closely with internal teams to create effective curricula. They are responsible for all aspects of training, including curriculum, material development, and training delivery.

LMS Administrators

LMS administrators develop and maintain the learning management system platform and collaborate with project managers, technical subject matter experts, and clients to help define and develop virtual training offerings. This involves refining and maintaining training requirements and keeping training documentation, certifications, and marketing/engagement resources up to date.

Organizations where instructional designers may work:

  • K-12 public, charter, or private schools
  • State universities or private colleges
  • Community colleges 
  • For-profit companies
  • Online educational programs 
  • Edtech companies 

Entry-level Job Title ExamplesInstructional Designer, Learning Experience Designer, Instructional Design Support Specialist, Training and Instructional Designer

Future Roles: Senior Instructional Designer, Instructional Designer II, LMS Administrator, Senior Leader Learning Designer, Director of Learning Design and Development 

Relevant Certifications: ADT’s Instructional Design Certificate

Relevant Professional Associations: The Learning Guild, Association for Talent Development (ATD)

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