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Arkansas State University

The Career and Salary Benefits of Obtaining an MAT Degree Online

As discussed in the previous two articles of this three-article series, a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree program fills a unique niche in education-oriented master’s degrees. If you want to become a great teacher, then an accredited, high-quality MAT program can help you. In particular, if you want to make a difference in public schools in Arkansas, one of the five online MAT programs offered by Arkansas State University (A-State) can provide the knowledge, skills and qualifications you need.

But, earning your master’s can be a substantial investment of time, money and energy, even with affordable, accelerated MAT programs like those offered by A-State. This can be especially challenging for working adults and parents with little free time to spare. Thus, it is important to consider if earning an MAT degree can help you achieve your financial goals and career aspirations.

How Will Earning an Online MAT Degree Help You Get the Teaching Job You Want?

All states have specific educational and licensure or certification requirements to be a public school teacher. Some states offer reciprocity for teaching licenses from other states. However, requirements vary, and degrees or teaching licenses may not be honored across state lines.

If you want to become a second-career teacher in public schools, researching your state’s requirements is an important first step. Investigating teaching education and licensure requirements is also essential for licensed teachers who plan on moving to a new state. Moreover, teaching in certain areas like special education may require specialized qualifications and education.

MAT programs can be beneficial in all these instances. For instance, most A-State’s online MAT programs are designed for and only offered to people who plan to teach in public schools in Arkansas. A-State offers in-depth resources through the Professional Education Program office to help candidates navigate the various Arkansas teacher licensure processes and meet all requirements.

Furthermore, federal laws regarding teaching students who receive special education services are separate from — and often more stringent than — general regulations for public school teachers. Unique among the school’s online MAT programs, A-State’s MAT – Special Education K-12 online program is available to people in all states except for California and Georgia. This program is highly specialized, ensuring degree candidates receive the in-depth studies needed to support students with exceptionalities in public schools.

If you do have a bachelor’s degree but do not have the requirements to pursue a teaching license, A-State’s MAT programs are ideal for you. However, professionals looking to break into education can also consider A-State’s Bachelor of Science in Education in Elementary Education online program and Bachelor of Science in Education in Special Education K-12 online program. Both provide students with the experience to pursue initial teaching licensure without going the MAT route.

Is a Master’s Degree Necessary for Advancing a Teaching Career?

A few states require that teachers earn a master’s degree within a certain period after they begin teaching. However, it is not yet a universal requirement. Candidates may be able to meet state educational requirements for teaching licensure by earning a specialized MAT degree. In fact, candidates enrolled in A-State’s MAT – Special Education K-12 online program can earn their provisional license in Arkansas and begin teaching in as few as 14 weeks after starting the program, granted they pass the necessary Praxis exams. There are many tips you can follow to prepare for the Praxis exams.

Beyond state requirements, landing a good teaching job without a master’s degree is getting more complex. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), more than 60% of public school teachers had at least a master’s degree in the 2020-2021 school year. In fact, most job market competition of the future will likely have a higher-level degree than a bachelor’s. Earning an MAT degree can give professionals the competitive edge and the education needed to teach in a number of interest areas.

Can Earning an MAT Boost a Public School Teacher Salary?

Teaching is a rewarding job — though not necessarily the most financially lucrative career. That said, teachers make a higher median salary than many other occupations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for all occupations in 2022 was $46,310. Comparatively, the median 2022 annual salary for preschool, elementary, middle, secondary and special education teachers was $61,180.

Moreover, earning a master’s degree can substantially improve a teacher’s earning potential. For public education professionals, school districts create salary schedules that generally delineate pay increases according to both years worked and education level attained. NCES data shows that the average 2020-2021 base salary for public school teachers with a master’s degree was $67,000 a year, compared to $52,500 a year for teachers with only a bachelor’s degree.

Given all of this, earning a master’s degree like an MAT can help public school teachers work in the area they want, command a higher salary and be more competitive in the workforce. A-State’s MAT programs are also particularly well suited to help second-career teachers enter the profession with solid credentials, training and skills. If this aligns with your career interests, earning an MAT degree can be a good investment. Plus, with A-State’s online model, you can continue working and earning a salary while you complete your degree and advance a meaningful career as a public school teacher.

Be sure to read the first two articles in this series titled “Does an MAT Degree Kickstart Your Public School Teaching Career?” and “Get the Skills You Need to Be a Great Public School Teacher With an MAT Degree.

Learn more about A-State’s online MAT programs.

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