What Can You Do with a Masters in Secondary Education

Last Updated on September 23, 2023 by Paschal Alvina

A master’s degree in secondary education can prepare students for a range of careers in the field of education. These careers vary in their specific duties, but professionals can use the skills and knowledge found in these graduate programs to help high school students learn and grow. Find out about a few of the available careers for those with a master’s in secondary education.

Career Options for a Master’s in Secondary Education

Job TitleMedian Salary (2019)*Job Growth (2018-2028)*
High School Teachers$61,6604%
High School Principals (Including Elementary and Middle)$96,4004%
Instructional Coordinators$66,2906%
Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers$54,350-10% (Decline)
Special Education Teachers, Secondary School$61,0303%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information for Secondary Education Jobs Requiring a Master’s

High School Teachers

High school, or secondary, teachers need at least a bachelor’s degree, but some states require a master’s degree and many teachers may choose to earn one to further their education. They specialize in teaching kids in the 9th to 12th grades in a variety of subjects, which requires them to create lesson plans, exams and activities that are usually based on state education standards. High school teachers may work with individuals, small groups of students or whole classes to challenge them and help strengthen any educational weaknesses, all while providing structure and safety in the classroom. They usually maintain communication with parents and/or administrators concerning students’ abilities and behavior and help supervise students during free time as needed.

High School Principals

High school principals must have teaching experience and hold a master’s degree, and although they typically have a master’s in education administration or leadership, there are some secondary education programs with a focus in these areas. These administrators oversee the activities of a school and work to provide students with a healthy learning environment. They work closely with teachers and school staff to manage activities, implement the curriculum and set safety standards and other school rules. High school principals also manage the school’s budget, provide professional development opportunities for staff and communicate with parents about students as needed.

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators need a master’s degree in an education-related field, and they also usually need some teaching or administrative experience. Some of these coordinators may specialize in working at secondary schools to manage the school’s curriculum and help teachers implement the required educational standards. They typically help create learning materials and/or approve textbooks and other materials for various subjects, observe teachers and further train teachers on the curriculum. Instructional coordinators also usually examine students’ test scores to identify areas of weakness and mentor teachers to help them improve their teaching skills.

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers

Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers need at least a bachelor’s degree, but some employers may require these educators to have a master’s degree. Those with a background in secondary education may be especially prepared to help teach high school equivalency courses. These teachers specialize in working with adult and/or English as a Second Language (ESL) learners to help them write, speak and read English, usually while working toward their high school equivalent diploma. They still plan lessons and monitor students’ progress like high school teachers, but they may put extra emphasis on job-related skills and help connect students with various community resources.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers must have a bachelor’s degree, but some may be required to earn a master’s degree in special education or another education area. Some may decide to earn a graduate degree in secondary education if they wish to work with high school students, and there are universities that offer master’s degree programs focused on both secondary and special education.

Special education teachers at the secondary level may work with students of varying learning, physical, emotional and mental disabilities to help them learn basic skills and prepare them for life after graduation. They typically need to adapt lesson plans to meet the individual needs of students according to their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and update IEPs as students make progress. These teachers stay in close contact with parents, administrators and other teachers concerning their students and may manage teaching assistants in special education.

A master’s degree in secondary education allows graduates to teach at the secondary school level, but it also opens doors to working in different administrative and specialized positions related to high school education. Most of these positions are expected to have positive job growth in the near future, according to the BLS.

The skills and experience you develop during your education degree prepare you for a range of careers working with children and young people

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don’t restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.

Take a few minutes to answer the Job Match quiz and find out what careers would suit youTry Job Match

Work experience

If you want to do a PGCE or equivalent postgraduate qualification, you’ll need to have experience of working with children, preferably in a school environment. This will show that you understand the job role and are committed to a teaching career. Contact schools directly to ask for work experience or to observe classes or shadow teachers. Find out more about volunteering in schools.

Volunteering to help out at a local education, sports, community or youth centre is also a good way to gain some experience around educational issues.

To move away from a career in education, think about what areas of work interest you and carry out research into relevant roles and sectors. Use tools such as Job Match to help you decide what type of career you’d be suited to.

Look out for work placements and voluntary opportunities advertised via your university career service, on company websites and through the specialist press. Use these opportunities to discover whether you suit the work and to build up a network of contacts. Work shadowing is another useful way of finding out about a particular career.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

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Typical employers

If you’re working in a state-maintained school, your employer will often be your local authority. However, you may be employed directly by the school; if for example, you work for an academy, free school or independent school. You’ll also be employed directly by the institution if you work for a college. Discover how to get a teaching job.

Other employers include:

  • central government departments
  • community and voluntary organisations
  • museums
  • the police and probation services
  • social services
  • universities.

There are opportunities with both public and private sector employers in a range of careers such as HR, market and policy research, retail management, publishing, education psychology and careers guidance. Find out more about jobs in education.

Find information on employers in teacher training and educationcharity and voluntary work and other job sectors.

Employers hiring education graduates now

English, Maths & Science Secondary School TeacherPremier PathwaysLondonCompetitive salaryTeach English in ChinaBUNACChinaCompetitive salaryTeach English in SpainMeddeasSpainUnder £12,000View more teaching and education jobs

Skills for your CV

Studying education develops specific skills relating to a range of educational topics, including theories of learning, equality and diversity, education policy and practice, and creativity and education.

Your degree will also provide you with a good general understanding of education in social, political and economic contexts. Some courses include work placement modules, providing the opportunity to put theory into practice.

You’ll also gain the following transferable skills, which are useful to employers in a variety of job sectors:

  • communication skills, for presenting effective oral and written arguments
  • IT skills
  • research and analytical skills
  • interpersonal skills, with the ability to work collaboratively as part of a team
  • problem-solving skills
  • organisation and time-management skills, for prioritising your academic workload and delivering essays on time
  • self-management, for planning your own workload and reflecting on and improving personal practice.

To qualify for a place on a teacher training course, you’ll need to prepare for and pass professional skills tests. If you want to work in secondary education discover the essential skills for a secondary school teacher.

Enhance your career in teaching

Study Primary and Secondary PGDipEd programmes at the University of BirminghamVisit

Further study

Achieving Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) through completion of the PGCE (PGDE in Scotland) or equivalent postgraduate qualification is a popular route for education graduates.

Alternatively, you may wish to take a Masters course in education or a related social science in order to develop your understanding of the theory, research and policy of education and to enhance your professional knowledge, skills and practice. Some education graduates go on to study for a PhD in education. Another option is the Masters in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Find out more information on routes into teaching and search postgraduate courses.

What do education graduates do?

Just under half of education graduates in employment in the UK six months after graduation are working as primary and nursery education teaching professionals. A further 8% are working as teaching assistants.

Further study14.7
Working and studying4.5

Graduate destinations for education

Type of workPercentage
Education professionals58.8
Childcare, health and education work18.7
Legal, social and welfare5.4
Retail, catering and bar work4.7

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