Can You Be a Teacher with an Associate’s Degree?

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The minimum educational requirement for K-12 teachers in the United States is a bachelor’s degree, so even the best associate’s degree will likely be insufficient if you’re looking for a career as a teacher.

Can You Be a Teacher With an Associate’s Degree

The good news is that there are many alternative career paths for people who want to be in teaching-related positions that only require an associate’s degree in education.

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In this guide, we’ll explain what an associate’s degree in education is and review a list of jobs and career paths earning this degree may open up for you.

What Is an Associate’s Degree in Education?

elementary teacher assisting her student

If you want to take a solid step toward a career in teaching but cannot commit to a 4 year program, it’s important to know how long it takes to get an associate degree.

An associate’s degree in education is a 2 year degree that prepares graduates to enter the field of education. After graduation, degree holders may start their careers or pursue a bachelor’s degree in education.

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Education associate degree programs generally give students an overview of the field, as well as the history of teaching, current trends and issues, and factors that influence methods of instruction. Common subjects covered include child development, behavior management, educational technology, and lesson planning.

Some programs may require a practicum to ensure learners have hands-on teaching experience by the time they graduate.

Like bachelor’s degree programs, many associate programs offer concentrations in specialized fields, such as elementary teacher education or child and adolescent development.

What Can You Do with an Associate’s Degree in Education?

teaching assistant giving instructions to hs students

Here is a list of teaching-related jobs you may pursue with an associate degree:

Teaching Assistant

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national average salary for teaching assistants is $30,920 per year.

Teaching assistants help teachers perform their primary duties. These duties may include helping with grading tests, preparing equipment for lessons, recordkeeping and taking attendance, instructional responsibilities, or assisting students with questions or homework.

An assistant may also supervise children outside the classroom, such as during recess, school outings, or field trips.

Childcare Worker

childcare worker working in a daycare facility

Childcare workers ensure the safety, education, and proper development of children whose parents or guardians are not available. According to the BLS, the national average salary for a childcare worker is $28,520 per year.

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These workers most often work in daycare centers or nurseries. Common duties include creating schedules for activities, bringing children to and from school, preparing meals, and assisting with other immediate needs.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool Teacher doing art class

Preschool teachers educate young children (typically under five years old) before they enter kindergarten. According to the BLS, the national average salary for a preschool teacher is $35,330 per year.

Common duties include creating learning plans that incorporate songs, rhyming, playtime, and other learning modalities to engage students and encourage language and social development. Preschool teachers typically work for private daycare facilities or school districts.


Tutor teaching her HS student

Tutors help students learn specific subjects or courses outside of school settings. The BLS indicates that the national average salary for a tutor is $36,680 per year.

Tutors often help with test preparation, homework, study skills, and grade improvement. They may work with groups of students or individuals to help them succeed academically.

Childcare Director

Childcare Director writing notes

Childcare directors oversee the operation of preschools and daycare centers. They are responsible for ensuring the care and safety of each student. According to the BLS, the national average salary for a childcare director is $49,690 per year.

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Common duties include developing curriculums to help children learn and grow, ensuring the facility complies with local laws and regulations, and regularly communicating children’s progress with their parents.

Should You Consider an Associate’s Degree?

teacher with an associate’s degree in education

While an associate’s degree alone will not qualify you to work as a classroom teacher, it can serve as a stepping stone on that path. If you are not ready for the requirements of a bachelor’s degree, earning an associate in education may be an option to consider.

With an associate degree, you may consider a career as a teaching assistant or a preschool teacher, which can both be valuable opportunities and experiences for starting a career in education.

If becoming a certified teacher is your end goal, you may transfer credit hours acquired from an accredited associate’s degree program to a bachelor’s program at a later date. In fact, many associate degrees are designed specifically for transfer to 4 year programs.

To learn more about this topic, you can check out our article on whether an associate’s degree is the same as an undergraduate degree!

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Isaac Scott
WRITTEN BY Isaac Scott

Isaac has a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. His primary focus is accredited schools offering degrees online or in a hybrid format.