Best Online Associate in Education Programs
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An associate in education program can teach learners fundamental knowledge of the educational system, best teaching practices, and child development principles.
An online associate in education requires about 60 credits of coursework. The program takes most students two years to complete, but accelerated online programs can shorten that time. Individuals who need to balance school and work schedules may need more than two years to graduate.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition at two-year institutions averaged $11,390 for the 2018-2019 academic year. Students at private for-profit and nonprofit schools paid an average of $28,630 for the same academic year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs in education, training, and libraries will grow 10% between 2020-2030. This projection is partly due to the versatility of an online associate in education. With this degree, graduates can pursue various jobs in education, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector.
According to the BLS, preschool teachers, who typically require no more than an associate degree, earned a median wage of $31,930, as of May 2020. Some graduates find that they can increase their earning potential with a bachelor's or master's degree in this field.
What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Education Program?
Students suited for the education field enjoy working with children and seeing them develop emotionally, academically, and psychologically. Some people who pursue an associate degree in education aspire to continue their education to expand their earning potential and job opportunities.
Most students in an associate in education program must complete 60 credits or two years of required coursework. Depending on the program, students might choose a concentration that prepares them for a specialization or an advanced degree. For example, people interested in daycare can specialize in child development. Other concentrations include:
- Early childhood education
- Elementary education
- Paraprofessional education
- Secondary education
Along with a fundamental knowledge of theories and methods, students in an associate in education program can acquire classroom supervision through practicum work under a licensed teacher. However, those in a bachelor's degree program are more likely to get such field experience.
Prospective students' academic interests and preferred career paths can determine whether they pursue an associate of arts (AA), associate of science (AS), associate of applied arts (AAA), or associate of applied science (AAS).
Students who plan to pursue a bachelor's degree in education typically earn an AA or AS. The "applied" degrees tend to emphasize vocational skills to prepare graduates for specific careers.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Education Program?
Curriculum and Assessment
This course helps prospective educators learn methods for facilitating thinking and discussion in the classroom setting. It also teaches them techniques for assessing learning and creating lesson plans.
This course focuses on techniques for helping students learn, stay motivated, and demonstrate critical thinking. Prospective educators also can gain skills in facilitating students' goal setting and independence in learning.
Introduction to Early Childhood Education
This class surveys the educational process from birth through the eighth grade, Learners get exposure to principles of designing programs, curricula, and course content. People seeking work in education and childcare can benefit from this course.
Theories of Child Development
Prospective educators can learn the fundamentals of children’s physical, emotional, social, and psychological development from infancy through adolescence. The class also covers how education professionals can help students through all aspects of their growth.
Principles of Education
This course covers topics such as classroom management, lesson planning, learning assessment, and student engagement. Learners also get exposure to principles of effective instruction and facilitating successful learning environments.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Education Program?
Schools that offer an associate in education program vary in their admission requirements. In general, institutions require a high school diploma with an official transcript or GED certificate. Prospective students should check to see if any of their prior courses qualify for earnedcollege credits. Other admission requirements may include an application fee and scores from entrance exams.
Students transferring from another postsecondary institution also must submit transcripts for their courses. They should verify that the school accepts their transfer credits or participates in a transfer agreement with the student's former school.
Many schools request an application essay. This essay describes a prospective student’s academic and career interests and suitability for admission. Applicants also may need to obtain at least one letter of recommendation from an employer, former teacher, or trusted mentor.
What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Education Degree?
Many professionals find that an associate degree presents an excellent start to building a career in education. This includes people seeking work after graduation or pursuing an advanced degree and certification. The BLS projects that jobs in education and related fields will grow 10% between 2020-2030.
Graduates with an associate in education do not usually earn as much as individuals with higher degrees. According to the BLS, employees in all education-related jobs made a median annual salary of $52,380, as of May 2020. However, preschool teachers, who typically need an associate degree, earned a median annual salary of $31,930.
Graduates can work as teacher assistants, tutors, childcare workers, and preschool teachers. While professionals with higher degrees typically need licensure to teach, some associate degree graduates also need a license to work in the classroom, depending on state-level requirements.
An associate degree in education program can prepare students for a career or continued education. Learn more about careers in education.
Childcare workers are among various child development professionals who take care of children's basic needs, including eating, dressing, and carrying out good hygiene practices. They also organize and track the progress of children during playtime, naps, and educational activities. States vary in the kinds of licensing requirements childcare workers must follow.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $25,460
Preschool teachers work in childcare facilities rather than schools to educate and care for students under 5 years old. They help develop instructional curricula that include the development of motor skills, language, and social skills. These professionals regularly update parents or guardians on their children's progress. Some states require that preschool teachers maintain a license.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $31,930
Teacher assistants work in the classroom under the supervision of a licensed teacher. They support students and reinforce their learning in individual and group settings. Teacher assistants also perform administrative functions, such as monitoring the classroom, taking attendance, and preparing learning materials.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $28,900
Substitute teachers take over a class for an absent licensed teacher. They maintain discipline in the classroom, collect assigned work, and ensure students stay on track with their lessons. Substitute teachers generally do not need a license to work, but schools usually require them to have an associate degree or take training that the school provides.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $29,370
People with an online associate in education can work as tutors if they do not want to teach in a classroom or lack instructional experience. When working with students, tutors emphasize their subject expertise rather than their teaching experience. Tutors assist learners in all grade levels.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $40,590
Education Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Some education professionals may not need more than an associate degree. However, pursuing a bachelor's in education or master's in education may help individuals earn higher pay. Advanced degrees also can open doors to more job opportunities.
Bachelor's degrees in education allow professionals to teach in the classroom with a license and after a certain number of hours under a teacher's supervision. States vary in the types oflicenses and certifications they require. Professionals interested in higher education and administrative positions might consider getting a master's degree.
Credits from many programs offering an associate in education can transfer to institutions offering advanced degrees. Some participate in partnerships with these schools to make it easier for students to further their education.
How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Education Program?
Students should compare tuition and fees for online and traditional classes. Overall,tuition for an online degree may cost considerably less than a standard, on-campus program. However, educational expenses includemore than just tuition. They also include books and supplies, student fees, transportation to campus if required, computer equipment, and lost income from reduced work hours.
Online associate in education students generally receive the same type and quality of education as traditional learners. However, online classes can offer synchronous or asynchronous modes of delivery. Also, many online schools offer accelerated programs, allowing even part-time students to earn their degrees in less time than they would if they took on-campus courses.
Although online learning allows most students to get an education virtually anywhere, some schools require on-campus attendance for some classes or meetings. Students who do not learn well at their own pace might want to be close enough to campus to enroll in in-person classes, if necessary.
Accreditation indicates that a school meets standards for academic rigor and excellence. An institution's accreditation comes from an independent state, regional, or federal agency. Enrolling in a college without accreditation may prevent students from transferring their credits to another accredited school or receiving adequate academic support. Also, students at schools without national or regional accreditation might not get financial aid.
Student services like mentorships,experience-based internships, and academic support can be important to students pursuing an associate in education. For example, first-generation and minority college students can receive networking advice and other benefits from mentorship programs. Students might consider the kinds of support they need when researching online student services at prospective schools.
Best Accredited Online Associate in Education Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Education Programs
Is an associate degree in education worth it?
Many educators and childcare professionals have launched rewarding careers by earning an online associate in education. It can provide a solid foundational background and practical classroom experience. This degree can open doors to immediate employment or provide a springboard to pursue a bachelor's or master's in education. Many students view enrolling in a two-year online program as an affordable alternative to getting a bachelor's right away. It also allows working students enough flexibility to progress through their coursework and maintain their professional and personal obligations.
How quickly can I get an associate in education degree online?
Most associate in education programs take about two years to complete and require about 60 credits of coursework. The time it takes to complete this program depends on a student's goals, schedule, and motivation. Learners who take classes and work full time will likely need more than two years to graduate. However, students can reduce their time in school with accelerated online courses. They also can take summer courses, which usually last weeks rather than months.
Is an online associate degree in education credible?
An online associate in education serves as a credible first step to a meaningful career in education or childcare. Graduates from most two-year programs gain foundational and theoretical knowledge of the field. They also get classroom and field experience under a licensed teacher's supervision. This can prepare them for a smooth transition into many workplace settings. This degree allows graduates to obtain employment as preschool teachers, childcare workers, teacher assistants, substitute teachers, and private tutors.
How much money can I make with an associate in education?
According to the BLS, preschool teachers earn a median annual salary of $31,930, as of May 2020. Other professionals tend to earn less. For example, childcare workers and teacher assistants make median wages of $25,460 and $28,900, respectively. Educators with an associate degree wanting to increase their earning potential might consider getting a bachelor's or master's in this field.
Is an associate degree in education in demand?
The need for education jobs will likely increase in the coming years. The BLS projects that positions in this field willgrow 10% between 2020-2030. Preschool teachers positions, for example, are projected to grow 18% between 2020-2030. These figures exceed the 8% average growth rate for all U.S. occupations for the same period.