Associate in Education and Teaching Degree Guide

An online associate in education degree can get you started in a teaching career. Learn more about jobs you can have with an associate in education.
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Did you know that, on average, those who complete an associate degree earn more than high school graduates?

According to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES), the 2021 median annual earnings of full-time, year-round workers (ages 25–34) who completed high school was $39,700.

Meanwhile, people in the same age bracket with an associate degree earned a median annual salary of $45,000 that same year.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in teaching, enrolling in an associate in education program can introduce you to important teaching philosophies and concepts — and likely earn you some extra income.

Associate in Education Program Overview

Common Types of Degrees:

  • Associate of Arts (AA) in education
  • Associate of Science (AS) in education

Curriculum:

Associate in education degrees commonly have classes like the history of education, introduction to teaching philosophy, and teaching special populations. The courses are typically introductory. You can also choose a concentration and take coursework geared towards that specialty.

Concentrations Include:

  • Early childhood education
  • Paraprofessional education
  • Elementary education
  • Secondary education

Program Length:

Most associate in education degree programs require about 60 credits and take around two years to complete. The number of credit hours you take each semester, as well as whether or not you take summer courses, can increase or decrease that length of time.

Featured Online Associate in Education Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Admission Requirements Checklist

Admissions requirements can vary between programs. Check with each of your prospective colleges to see what they require. You can typically expect to submit the following:

How Much Does an Associate Degree in Education Cost?

According to the NCES, the average cost of an associate degree in 2022-23 was over $12,000.

Your cost depends on several factors, like whether or not you're attending a public or private college, receiving in-state or out-of-state tuition, and if you're awarded any scholarship or grant money.

Public Two-Year College
$3,589

Private Two-Year College
$17,408

Source: NCES

Why Get an Associate Degree in Education Online?

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    Flexibility

    Because coursework is available online, you can often attend lectures and complete assignments when it works best for your schedule. You also cut out your commute, freeing up your schedule even more.
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    Career Opportunities

    Some careers in education may require an associate in education degree. Completing a degree program can open up these career opportunities. Your degree can allow you to network and find more job options.
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    Affordability

    Associate degrees are typically cheaper than four-year degree programs. Online programs are sometimes offered at a cheaper per-credit rate than traditional in-person classes. You may also save on additional student fees by being an online learner.
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    Less Commitment

    Are you interested in a career in education but not ready to commit to a full-on teaching program? Completing an associate in education degree can give you the experience needed to decide if a career in education is for you. Many associate programs can easily transfer toward a full bachelor's degree program.
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    Continue working

    Because online degrees are flexible, you can work while completing your degree program. You could even work at a school or an education-related job and get real-life experience to pair with your college courses.

Associate in Education Degree Concentrations

An associate in education degree often requires you to choose a concentration. Below are popular options for specialties.

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    Early Childhood Education

    If you enjoy working with small children, a concentration in early childhood education is a great choice. Earning an online associate in early childhood education will prepare you to work as a preschool teacher. You can also find employment as a teacher at daycare centers or as a teacher's aide in a preschool classroom.
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    Elementary Education

    Elementary education typically encompasses kindergarten through fifth grade. Elementary teachers educate young students in reading, writing, math, and science. With an online associate in elementary education, you can work as a paraeducator at an elementary school, tutor elementary students, or work in before and after-school programs.
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    Physical Education

    Movement and play are essential to learning, especially for young kids. Completing an online associate in physical education degree prepares you to share sports, games, and exercise with learners. Your degree can lead to jobs like fitness instructor, coach, and athletic trainer.
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    Reading and Literacy

    Pursuing a reading and literacy concentration will help you understand the science of reading and how kids learn to read. An associate degree in education focusing on reading and literacy can be a stepping stone toward completing a literacy degree. You can also work as a tutor, preschool teacher, or library assistant.
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    Secondary Education

    People who work in secondary education typically work with students in 6-12th grade. Enrolling in an associate in secondary education degree can give you introductory experience with secondary teaching before committing to a specific teaching subject, like English or math. After completing your associate degree, you can work as a middle school teacher's aide, tutor, or high school substitute teacher.
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    Special Education

    An associate degree in special education introduces you to meeting the needs of various learners. You are also introduced to the history of special education laws. After earning your degree, you can work as a special education para, or you can find work in nonprofits or organizations that work with people with disabilities.

What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Education?

Obtaining your associate degree in education prepares you to work in different educational roles. Although you cannot become a licensed teacher with an associate degree, you can find rewarding jobs in education.

Popular Jobs With an Associate in Education
Job Median Annual Salary (May 2023)
Preschool Teacher $37,130
Childcare Worker $30,370
Tutor $39,580
Coach $45,910
Substitute Teacher $37,380
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Much Will You Make With an Associate in Education?

According to limited September 2023 Payscale data, you can make an annual salary of around $60,000. This total is based on the average yearly wage of people who earned an associate in education.

AA in Education
$60,000

Source: Payscale

Teaching Licensure Requirements

Finishing an associate in education degree will not automatically qualify you to become a licensed teacher. Although each state has its specific requirements, most states require you to hold a bachelor's degree to become a licensed teacher.

You will also have to complete additional requirements like completing a state-approved teacher education program, passing a background check, completing any state-required testing like a Praxis test, and completing a set amount of student teaching hours.

Many states, like Kansas and Colorado, allow teachers to begin teaching with a bachelor's degree, even if they have not completed a teacher readiness program. Oftentimes, these emergency teaching waivers require the candidate to have a teaching supervisor while they complete the state requirements for teaching. You complete your teacher licensure requirements while teaching instead of completing them before.

Two states, Florida and Arizona, have further loosened teaching requirements. Florida is allowing veterans who have completed 60 college credits and passed a state content exam for licensure to teach. Arizona allows college students to teach, but only if a licensed teacher supervises them.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate Degrees in Education

Is an associate degree in education worth it?

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Depending on your future career goals, an associate degree in education can be worth it. If you are unsure whether you want to become a licensed teacher, completing an associate degree can help you test the waters without fully committing to a four-year program.

An associate degree is still considered affordable and obtaining your associate degree could help you stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs that only require a high school diploma.

Can you teach with an associate degree?

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You can hold some teaching positions with an associate degree, but you cannot become a licensed teacher with just an associate degree. For instance, you could teach at a daycare or a private preschool with an associate degree. Still, in almost every state, you cannot work as a licensed elementary teacher without a bachelor's degree.

Is accreditation important for an online associate degree in education?

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Accreditation is extremely important for an online associate degree in education, especially if you plan on pursuing a bachelor's in education degree later down the road. The type of accreditation your program holds can determine whether or not you can transfer those credits to a four-year degree later.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed April 15, 2024<.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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