Author Topic: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?  (Read 6558 times)

shanghaiMMM

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Hi guys,

Another convert here. I was pretty Mustachian already but the site and forum has opened my eyes to the possibility of FIRE and it's pretty exciting.

This is my first topic - hopefully I give you enough info to work with. If you need further info, just let me know!

My situation

I'm British, got a BA Hons in Architecture, didn't want to pursue a Masters in that (takes 7 years...!) so then got my teaching credentials (a PGCE in the UK). I'm currently teaching in Shanghai at an international school. The package/salary here is much higher than in the UK (and the USA I believe) and COL is low. Rent is free and I'm saving a high % of my wage.

My S.O. is American. I've just signed a contract at school until 2017 but after that we are planning to move to the States (with the assumption we'll be married by then :D ) She's from Cali but we're in the process of looking at other states nearby with lower COL, perhaps Texas or Colorado (this is a question for another thread!)

If/when we move to the States, I could become a teacher hopefully. But whilst I like my job, I don't LOVE it, and would definitely like to earn a higher income. With over 2 years left in China, I was planning on doing an online Masters to boost my earning potential when I move to the USA. I was either planning to:

a) get an education related Masters to boost my teaching income
b) get something else. Business. Management. Something along those lines.


My question for you

If I chose option b - is there any particular path that you would recommend I take? I know this is a very open question and I'm not looking for you to decide my future for me but I'm looking for some inspiration. Any suggestions that get me a little closer to FIRE would be welcome and explored thoroughly!





shanghaiMMM

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2014, 06:04:55 PM »
OK, thinking about this, it's probably too broad a question. Consign this thread to the rubbish heap and I'll try again another time :)

mozar

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2014, 06:26:10 PM »
I wouldn't recommend an online degree. It's not worth much to employers.

civil

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2014, 06:42:46 PM »
I wouldn't recommend an online degree. It's not worth much to employers.

If it goes with your experience, it can be valuable. After my MS in engineering, I went into software (the only industry I could find hiring) in 2010, and eventually went back to school for a 2nd bachelors in CS, online (UMUC, which also has in-person classes, but I only did online). It's my most valuable degree right now.

But if you're looking for a master's as a way to start a new career, it is probably not as valuable. You miss out on the networking and job help that you would find in a brick and mortar school. And it seems like business depends heavily on your network.

Spondulix

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2014, 06:44:16 PM »
I agree about the online business degree, but the business education might be a big benefit, depending what you're looking to do. I did an online certificate through a local community college, so maybe $1000-1500 for the classes and books. I have a Masters Degree in my field, but the business education was fantastic - more because of how it helped my own business vs it making me more employable.

amyable

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2014, 06:44:34 PM »
Also, in most Texas schools, a MA in Education will not significantly increase your income.  You also need to be certified to teach public school here.  In Texas, there are alternative certification programs which allow you to finish your certification during your first year of teaching; however, depending on the districts you are applying in, some schools will not want to hire someone who is not already certified. 

shanghaiMMM

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2014, 06:53:13 PM »
Thanks for the information guys. I need to think a little more deeply about what I want to achieve I guess. Having been to University twice already I would really quite like to avoid having to go back full-time again, hence the thought about online study.



Also, in most Texas schools, a MA in Education will not significantly increase your income.  You also need to be certified to teach public school here.  In Texas, there are alternative certification programs which allow you to finish your certification during your first year of teaching; however, depending on the districts you are applying in, some schools will not want to hire someone who is not already certified.

This is off topic slightly - but I'm finding it quite difficult to get decent information about how (as a British teacher) I would be able to teach in USA. I know each state has it's own standards and I'm finding it quite frustrating finding the information I need.

If anybody knew of reliable websites where I could find this for, say Texas or Colorado, that'd be much appreciated!
« Last Edit: November 26, 2014, 06:55:13 PM by shanghaiMMM »

MoneyCat

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2014, 07:47:08 PM »
Whatever you do, don't invest more money in a Master's in Education.  Education is currently undergoing a process of privatization in the United States with a shift away from professional teachers and toward amateurs from organizations like Teach for America.  Teach for America is basically a program that puts college graduates without training into classrooms for two years in return for paying part of their student loans.  Public schools will all be converted into private charter schools with lower pay, lower benefits, and longer hours.  It's not worth the investment to get a Master's in Education if you are planning to move to the USA.

amyable

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2014, 07:56:06 PM »
Thanks for the information guys. I need to think a little more deeply about what I want to achieve I guess. Having been to University twice already I would really quite like to avoid having to go back full-time again, hence the thought about online study.



Also, in most Texas schools, a MA in Education will not significantly increase your income.  You also need to be certified to teach public school here.  In Texas, there are alternative certification programs which allow you to finish your certification during your first year of teaching; however, depending on the districts you are applying in, some schools will not want to hire someone who is not already certified.

This is off topic slightly - but I'm finding it quite difficult to get decent information about how (as a British teacher) I would be able to teach in USA. I know each state has it's own standards and I'm finding it quite frustrating finding the information I need.

If anybody knew of reliable websites where I could find this for, say Texas or Colorado, that'd be much appreciated!

In Texas, as you narrow down the city you are planning on moving to, I would contact the ESC region center for that area (http://tea.texas.gov/regional_services/esc/). Often these region centers offer certification opportunities (which typically cost something), you can also look at accreditation agencies, such as Texas Teachers.  All these certification programs cost something, so shop around--I know there are more that I'm not aware of since I did a traditional certification with my MA in Education.

DavidAnnArbor

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2014, 08:00:52 PM »
Wouldn't mastery of the Chinese language Mandarin become a job opportunity in the United States? Maybe there are schools that would want you to teach Mandarin?

shanghaiMMM

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2014, 08:16:47 PM »
MoneyCat That's very interesting to know and I'm glad I know it before taking the Masters plunge! Although it doesn't really leave me with much hope of getting a decent wage as a teacher in the USA if they're going to start hiring unqualified people. (UK has started this is some parts too)

amyable - Thanks for that info - I will definitely check out the link provided and get in touch with some education boards.

Wouldn't mastery of the Chinese language Mandarin become a job opportunity in the United States? Maybe there are schools that would want you to teach Mandarin?

That would be interesting. I'm currently about HSK 5 level which roughly equates to a C1 on the European language framework. No idea if that would be good enough to get me a job teaching Mandarin though!



expatartist

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2014, 08:51:51 PM »
I'm currently about HSK 5 level which roughly equates to a C1 on the European language framework. No idea if that would be good enough to get me a job teaching Mandarin though!

HSK 5 is great! You might also want to look into the many programs in the US which seek to:
A) Get young people internships/jobs/education in China
or
B) The other way around - bring Chinese students to the US. Chinese students are a huge money-maker for US high schools and universities. Your background could be a great one for this kind of 'linking' position

With 10-year visas being an option now between the 2 countries, there may be more opportunities on that front in the future.

agent_clone

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2014, 02:57:38 AM »
There may be other business opportunities there as well.  From a previous job I had I know that there can be a lot of grammatical mistakes for native Chinese speakers translating documents from Chinese to English (Just as I would expect the opposite to be true).

lhamo

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2014, 03:16:05 PM »
East China Normal University has a Master's program in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.  Tuition should be reasonable, and you might be able to get a scholarship (Hanban offers scholarships for TCFL at Beijing Normal, and they probably have them at ECNU, too).  Question would be if you could fit in the classes around your current teaching schedule.

Look at some of the related associations in the US to check job prospects, though - while Mandarin instruction has been expanding rapidly in the US, a lot of those positions are filled by Hanban/Confucius Institutes volunteer teachers.  There are also TONS of Chinese students in the US who are looking for ways to stay on after they finish their degrees.  You also potentially have the same kind of discrimination issues that people looking for English teaching jobs here face -- preconceived notions of what a "proper" teacher of the language looks like. 

MustardTiger

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2014, 05:16:46 PM »
I am a teacher certified in Texas.  You can take an alternative cert. course that can be completed in a few months plus continued classes through your first (paid year).  My cert program cost around 7k I believe.  In Texas you can expect to make anywhere between 35-50k starting out teaching.  Just curious, what is your salary like teaching in China?

shanghaiMMM

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2014, 01:00:06 AM »
Ihamo - thanks for the advice. The course does indeed only require a HSK5 to get on, so it's something to think about. But like you say, could I really do a better job than native Chinese speakers? I know as I learn Chinese I would definitely want a native speaker. Anyway, thanks for the idea and the info!

I am a teacher certified in Texas.  You can take an alternative cert. course that can be completed in a few months plus continued classes through your first (paid year).  My cert program cost around 7k I believe.  In Texas you can expect to make anywhere between 35-50k starting out teaching.  Just curious, what is your salary like teaching in China?

$7k seems a bit steep for a course only a few months long! But good to know, thanks.

I'm currently in my 3rd year of teaching, when / if I move to America I'll have had 5 years, could you give a rough estimate of the salary I could expect?

As for my current salary - about $52k (around $44k after tax). But then I get free housing which is worth quite a bit. And then there are bonuses - over the 4 years will be around $28k. Plus then there are free flights each year. You get more with experience/Masters. So it's a pretty good package and why I'm curious how much of a pay cut I'll be taking if I move to America!


denverite

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2014, 06:09:43 PM »
I teach in Denver, where it does pay to have a teaching certificate, but I don't think you will be able to earn as much as you are in China for a few years in the system.

For alternate routes, you could consider charter schools, which have lower requirements for teachers, but which also require more time than public school teaching.

Poopsio

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2014, 06:53:02 PM »
MBA at wharton.

MrsPete

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Re: Teacher thinking of career change. Best Masters to get for higher income?
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2014, 02:55:41 PM »
Whatever you do, don't invest more money in a Master's in Education.  Education is currently undergoing a process of privatization in the United States with a shift away from professional teachers and toward amateurs from organizations like Teach for America.  Teach for America is basically a program that puts college graduates without training into classrooms for two years in return for paying part of their student loans.  Public schools will all be converted into private charter schools with lower pay, lower benefits, and longer hours.  It's not worth the investment to get a Master's in Education if you are planning to move to the USA.
Sadly, this is 90% true.  I don't completely agree that education is becoming "privatized", but it's definitely changing.  Especially high school.  What's happening -- in my area anyway -- is that public school is VERY QUICKLY moving away from today's traditional public school set-up and is moving towards Charter Schools and Online Learning.  These are cheaper for the taxpayers than traditional public school, and the fact that they simply don't work well for below average students and students from at-risk environments -- well, we just don't care about that. 

I'm glad that I became a teacher.  It's worked well in conjunciton with my engineer husband's career (and you'd be surprised just how many teacher-engineer couples I know -- I mean, really, more than you'd believe; something about the two personalities attracts).  He earns more money than I do, but I've had more time for the house and the kids.  I have better retirement benefits and more stability than he does.  The vast differences in our jobs has made us rock-solid as a couple; what he doesn't have, I do.  In contrast, two-teacher couples (who are fairly common) struggle. 

But when my best and brightest students talk about wanting to teach, I tell them that they can't expect to have my job for a 30-year career -- my job is disappearing at a fast rate.

Since you're looking at several different states, investigate what credentials are necessary to teach in each state.  For example, in my state you're not required to have a masters -- in fact, they won't even pay us more if we do have a masters -- whereas, in some other states, a new teacher must earn a masters within X number of years.  So consider that in making your choice.