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Should I Get my Master's Degree or Not?

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I frequently have opportunities to participate in panel discussions where several local Human Resources directors are asked to provide insight into the teacher recruitment process. These are typically sponsored by either career centers or education department s of local colleges and universities. There are frequent questions that are asked over and over.

One such question is: In the event I am unable to find a teaching position, should I purse my Master's degree? Would that hurt my chances for getting hired? Would I be "too expensive" to be hired?

In most large school districts, hiring decisions are made at the individual school level. Interviews are conducted there and the recommendation for hire flows to central office, typically to the office of Human Resources. HR examines all the documentation on the individual such as reference letters, transcripts, resume and verification of employment. Based on that process, the salary is determined and an offer is made.

The answer to the initial question about pricing one's self out of the market is, no. The recommendation for hire is made at the building level. Once that decision is made, the pay is determined at a different level. In rare cases, in some small school districts, schools may have a budget limit that determines if a person with a Bachelor's level should be hired over one with a Master's. That is not the case with large school districts.

The type of Master's degree may impact if you have a better chance of being offered a contract or not. In Colorado high schools, certain courses may be offered for dual credit. That means that a student may get both high school and community college credit if the course is taught by a teacher with a Master's degree in their field (such as Mathematics or English). If the Master's degree is in a broader field like Curriculum and Instruction, the class that they teach would not be eligible for dual credit.

Jack Kronser
Director of Human Resources
Aurora Public Schools
Aurora, Colorado

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