Does Going Back To School Make You Over Qualified?
Becoming a teacher is one of the only professions where your first day is expected to be just as good as your last. For a teacher to continually improve their craft, be life-long learners, and also follow many state certification guidelines returning to the classrooms as a student is essential.
For years, the myth that young teachers who are on the job hunt and working towards, or have earned a Master degree will be passed up for available positions because the school entity would have to pay them a higher salary than a candidate without a Master degree. To demystify that myth, the large majority of school entities would rather pay a little more knowing that their small additional investment usually results in a better prepared teacher. There may have been a time long, long ago where this myth had some merit, however in the era of school accountability, rest assured that the more training, the better.
So, when do you plan to return to school?
- Are you subbing?
If you are in a competitive area and are subbing in various places waiting for the stars to align for the perfect position, there is nothing wrong with chipping away at a Master program that makes you a stronger candidate. Even being enrolled in a program shows administrators and recruiters that you are staying active in the learning process and dedicated to the field.
- Are you in your first few years?
If you are a new teacher, in most states there are requirements to earn a higher level certification by completing a number of professional development opportunities or by completing course work. Many young teachers, after gaining some experience are eager to begin a Master program with aspirations of becoming an administrator or team leader. While completing courses, you are gaining valuable experience that will make you a great candidate to move up the educational ladder.
- Can I just be a life-long learner and then jump into education sometime down the road?
Experience is very valuable. It is difficult to market yourself with only certifications and degrees and no relevant experience. It is strongly recommended that you seek out opportunities to work with children. Find opportunities to be a substitute teacher, paraprofessional, or volunteer where children are present. Working directly with children will bolster your resume and provide great talking points during the interview process.
Matthew J. Erickson, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor - Special Education Department
Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania