What can you do with a master's in adult education?

  • Teaching adults requires a different set of skills than working with children does.
    Teaching adults requires a different set of skills than working with children does.

    What can you do with a master's in adult education?

    How do you enhance your teaching and training skills to make an impact on adult learners? You have to go to school, too!

    If you’re drawn to teaching adult students, consider choosing a master’s degree program that offers adult and continuing education specializations. Once you earn your stripes, you’ll be qualified to share your knowledge with adults in a variety of learning environments.

    Here’s what you need to know about studying and working in adult education:

    What is adult education?
    This growing field provides adult learners with new knowledge and skills that can be used to improve career outlooks and fulfill lifelong interests. According to the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, this line of work can contribute to human fulfillment and positive social change, equipping adults with the knowledge and skills they need to lead productive, satisfying and successful lives.

    Adult education programs cover various learning objectives, such as basic life skills, GED preparation for adults with high school diplomas, English as a second language or professional development in the corporate world. A master’s in adult and continuing education provides teachers with a comprehensive understanding of the theory and practices behind adult learning, which allows them to design programs specifically targeted to an audience of adult learners. With more people looking to join adult education programs and corporations focusing on employee training, teachers with these advanced degrees are in demand.

    What skills and knowledge are required to be an adult educator?
    While the passion for sharing knowledge comes naturally to potential adult educators, master’s programs help develop the skills needed to have a positive impact on students. The most successful adult educators have a strong understanding of how adults learn, as well as how that differs from how children learn. They can then apply these adult education theories to planning, designing and implementing specialized lessons and programs.

    While they may be teachers, adult educators are also dedicated to lifelong learning in their own lives. Professionally, they are wired to keep improving, such as staying up to date on new teaching methods, implementing new technology and software in the classroom and experimenting with different learning and training activities. Plus, adult educators who also have an obvious love for learning outside of their careers can inspire their students – or employees – to enhance their knowledge with the same vivacious energy and passion.

    What career paths can you pursue?
    A master’s in adult and continuing education enables you to teach students beyond the high school level. Locations for teaching adults include institutions of higher learning, such as community colleges, universities and technical and trade schools. It also opens the doors to career opportunities within community organizations, human resources development teams, academic admissions and research groups.

    You can apply your degree to a career in the classroom, most especially in postsecondary teaching positions. According to the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, postsecondary teacher employment should grow 15 percent by 2026, which is higher than the average of all occupations. Depending on your expertise, you can pursue more specialized teaching roles, including:

    • Adult literacy and GED diploma teacher
    • Vocational instructor
    • Remedial education teacher
    • TESOL or ESL educator
    • Community college professor

    Beyond the classroom, but still on campus, you can coach adult learners in administrative roles. Career counselors, academic advisors, education consultants and adult education coordinators, registrars and college deans all fall under this umbrella of careers in higher learning.

    If you’re interested in the business side of adult learning, you may consider a training and development role in human resources. Corporations hire these in-house trainers to implement employee growth, development and training initiatives. That includes the onboarding process for new hires as well as continuing education for all employees. The BLS estimated that these training and development roles will experience a 10 percent growth in employment by 2026, which is still higher than the average. A master’s in adult and continuing education can qualify you for titles, such as:

    • Training and development manager
    • Corporate trainer
    • Training coordinator
    • Human resources training specialist

    If you’re interested in educational policies, you can also use a master’s degree to secure a position in the government. Educational policy developers, for instance, plan, develop, revise, implement and promote educational policies.

    No matter which career path you follow, you can find fulfillment in enriching adult lives with your teaching and training skills.

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