An associate in arts in elementary education will prepare students to work as teaching assistants. In addition, they may be eligible to fill entry-level administrative positions in the field. A two-year degree such as this is likely to include courses in classroom management, learning psychology, human growth and development, child health and safety, and curriculum planning. In addition, foundational course work in communication, humanities, natural science, social science, mathematics, and composition will likely be required. Most positions for teaching assistants will be found with public and private elementary schools. Day care services is another potential career path.
Why an Associate Degree?
In order to gain teacher certification in your state, a bachelor’s degree will be required. However, if you would like to explore the field of education before committing to a four-year program, or simply want to enter the workforce more quickly, an associates degree in elementary education can be a great option. This type of program usually takes about two years to complete, depending, of course, on your level of enrollment and whether or not you take any breaks from the program. In addition, students will take a series of general education classes which can prepare them to pursue a bachelor’s degree should they decide to continue their education in the future.
Getting Into an Associate Degree Program
Every school has their own set of admissions criteria. However, here are a few common requirements you might expect to see with this type of program:
- A high school diploma or equivalent
- Any transcripts from other college course work
- Application form and fee
- Application essay (if required)
Inside an Elementary Education (K-5) Associate Degree Program
Students interested in enrolling in an associate in elementary education program should expect a combination of general education and core major classes. This will usually take two years of full-time study. Since there are a number of options for online students these days, working adults and busy parents still have the opportunity to pursue a degree. Students are free to log in to the virtual classroom 24/7 in most cases and do not have to “attend” class at a specific time. Interactive discussion boards, chat, web conferencing, and streaming audio and video help to keep the learning experience fresh and engaging.
Common major courses include classroom management, child development, educational psychology, curriculum development, child health and safety, and communication. General education courses required for a two-year degree usually include topics such as humanities, math, natural science, social science, and composition. Any classroom experience requirements can be completed remotely to accommodate online students.
What’s Next for Elementary Education (K-5) Associate Degree Holders?
Graduates who earn an associate degree in this area of study will have the knowledge and skills they need to pursue jobs as teaching assistants in schools or day care workers. In addition, entry-level positions may be found in school administration or with private educational companies as well. According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for teaching assistants is expected to increase by 15% from 2010 to 2020. This is slightly faster than the 14% growth anticipated for all occupations during this time frame.
As of May 2012, the reported mean annual wage for teaching assistants was $25,310. The industries with the highest levels of employment for this occupation are elementary and secondary schools and child day care services. However, actual starting pay and job availability will vary based on location, professional experience, the economic climate, and the specific position and employer.