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M.Ed. Salary: Calculating Value for Education Jobs

More than 49% of teachers in public schools and 40% of teachers in private schools have a master’s degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, and the payoff for the degree is relatively high. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), education administrators with master’s degrees make wages 44% higher than those with bachelor’s degrees. But an increase isn’t limited to administrators. Preschool and kindergarten teachers who hold master’s degrees see a similar pay increase of 43%, while elementary and secondary teachers see salary bumps of $12,000 and $11,000, respectively. 

This article will help you understand how having a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree can increase your salary as an educator, administrator or teacher.

What Can I Do with an M.Ed.?

An M.Ed. can help you advance your career in the short term by potentially increasing your salary: According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, 88% of large school districts in the U.S. offer additional pay to teachers who hold master’s degrees. And in the long term, an M.Ed. provides you with the qualifications you’ll need for even higher-paying leadership roles, which some other master’s degrees won’t. 

According to Dr. Brett Tozer, chair of the School of Education at Franklin University, an M.Ed. serves both the immediate and future needs of current teachers who aspire to administrative positions. 

“Most teachers want an M.Ed. because if a job for an instructional coach or a dean of students opens up, they have the degree that makes them more competitive. They can take advantage of advancement opportunities without leaving their school,” Dr. Tozer says.


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Here are a few of the roles that an M.Ed. can help prepare you for:

A principal oversees all school operations, including leading teachers and staff, setting goals, approving curriculum and keeping track of student performance. A master’s degree in education is typically the minimum qualifying credential. Principal licensure is usually a specialized track within an M.Ed. program. It includes an internship and leads to licensure. As with all education salaries, a principal’s salary depends on level of experience, education and geographic location. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for elementary, middle and high school principals was $98,420 in May 2021 and the highest 10% earned more than $153,520.

Postsecondary Administrator
Depending on the size of the institution and the department in which they work, a postsecondary administrator might oversee student services, academics, athletics, admissions and faculty research at colleges and universities. These positions typically require a master’s degree. The BLS reports that the median annual wage for postsecondary education administrators was $96,910 in May 2021, with those working in colleges and professional schools earning more than those at junior colleges. The highest 10% earned more than $190,770.

School Counselor, Career Counselor
School counselors help students forge academic and social skills and develop plans for what they’ll do after graduation. Career counselors help students and other clients develop skills, explore potential careers and jobs and find educational programs that will lead to a career. A master’s degree is typically required. The BLS reports that the median annual wage for school and career counselors in elementary and secondary schools was $63,460 in May 2021. Employment for these roles is projected to grow 11% from 2020–2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

Instructional Coordinator
In addition to developing, implementing and assessing educational material, instructional coordinators oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They may also train, mentor and coach teachers, helping improve their skills. A master’s degree in education or curriculum and instruction is typically required. The median annual wage for instructional coordinators in elementary and secondary schools was $75,840 in May 2021, according to the BLS. It was $78,900 for government positions.

Childcare Director
A bachelor’s degree and experience in early childhood education are typically required to become a preschool or childcare center director. In addition to hiring, training and supervising staff, these directors design program plans, prepare budgets and oversee daily activities. Payscale found that childcare directors with an M.Ed. averaged $48,236 a year in salary, while those with a bachelor’s averaged $44,104. The employment of childcare center directors is projected to grow 11% from 2020–2030, slightly faster than the average for all occupations. 

Curriculum Coordinator, Curriculum Designer
Responsible for studying, evaluating and implementing research-based curriculum and instruction and observing and training teachers, curriculum coordinator positions typically require a master’s degree. Payscale reports that curriculum coordinators with an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction earn an average salary of $65,945.

Curriculum Developer, Curriculum Writer
These authors of educational training materials and instruction programs typically must possess a master’s degree in education or curriculum and instruction. The average salary for a curriculum developer with an M.Ed. is $70,776, according to Payscale.

Education Consultant
While a master’s degree isn’t required to be an educational consultant, most consultants have one. The degree will help you gain expertise and assure clients of your knowledge and expertise in your field. According to Payscale, education consultants with an M.Ed. average $67,331 in salary.

M.Ed. Salary Expectations

Many factors can impact salary in education, including years of experience, subject taught, geographic location and setting (private school versus public; university versus elementary, for example).

When the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) looked at 90 sample school districts, they found that the average lifetime earnings of a teacher with a bachelor’s degree were $1.7 million, or about $57,000 a year over a 30-year career. But for a teacher with a master’s degree, lifetime earnings increased to about $2 million, or roughly $67,000 a year over the same career span.

Master’s in Education Salaries by State: Where You’ll Make the Most and the Least

The Teacher Salary Benchmark Report by the National Education Association found that the top annual salary for a teacher with a master’s degree was $70,279 in 2020–2021 versus $60,381 for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree.

Of the states that reported top master’s degree salaries, the five states with the highest top master’s degreesalary are the District of Columbia ($110,179), Connecticut ($90,099), New Jersey ($89,966), New York ($88,896) and Washington ($88,713).

At the other end of the list, the five states with the lowest top master’s salary are Missouri ($52,109), Kansas ($54,321), Oklahoma ($54,849), South Dakota ($55,078) and Louisiana ($56,205).

Does Having a Master’s in Education Increase Your Salary as a Teacher?

The NCTQ determined that a master’s degree earns teachers an additional $2,760 in their first year of teaching compared to a bachelor’s degree. And that salary advantage expands to an average of $7,358 per year by the time a teacher reaches the top salary on the pay scale. And in some districts that can be even higher.

In Montgomery County Public Schools (Maryland), for example, the NCTQ reports that teachers at the top of the salary schedule with a master’s degree (or an equivalent number of credits) make $36,716 more than a teacher at the top of the salary schedule with a bachelor’s degree.

These stats and others indicate that, yes, having a master’s degree in education certainly can increase your salary as a teacher.

Of course, money isn’t everything. Having a Master of Education degree will also increase your skills and help you stand out when applying for a job at a new school or a leadership position in your current building.

Franklin University’s M.Ed. in Educational Leadership is ideal for helping you gain the degree and skills you need to advance your career. The K-12 Building-Level Leadership focus area prepares teachers for leadership positions in elementary, middle and high schools. The Higher Education Leadership focus area preps future admissions directors, academic deans and other university leaders. Learn more about the Master of Education in Educational Leadership program.

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