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If you’re eager to become a teacher, you may wonder whether having an associate’s degree is enough.1

Naturally, this depends on your definition of “enough.” For some, the opportunities afforded by an associate’s degree in education provide ample satisfaction—from the possibility of making a profound impact in another’s life to the joys of working with children. For others, the diploma serves as a launching pad to a higher degree and a lifelong career in teaching. 

So, can you be a teacher with an associate’s degree? 

You can become one, so let’s examine what you may encounter if you choose this educational route to understand if it aligns with your goals. 

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

An associate’s degree in education is typically a two-year commitment (or the successful completion of at least 60 credits).2 With your degree in hand, you may have the chance to explore a role as a:3

  • Preschool teacher
  • Substitute teacher
  • After school program teacher
  • Paraeducator (teacher assistant)
  • Child counseling assistant
  • Childcare employee
  • Nanny
  • Adult education consultant
  • Library assistant
  • Special education aid

Additionally, an associate’s degree in education may enable you to become a tutor—a rewarding profession that allows you to hone in on your passion, whether that’s English or algebra, and advance your teaching skills.4

What Are the Job Outlooks for These Occupations?

Educators are sought after across the nation.5 Yet, as with many professions, your prospects will hinge on the specific job you choose, as well as your location.

The need for teacher assistants, for example, is expected to increase across the board over the next several years, while the outlook for early childhood educators—such as preschool teachers—is terrific: it’s deemed the third most in-demand position in the country. 6,7 

As expected, the jobs listed above require particular aptitudes, such as:8

  • Interpersonal dexterity
  • Strong communication and leadership skills
  • Time and classroom management
  • Superior organization 
  • Empathy and patience

Take some time to reflect on your strengths and passions. You can also talk to a loved one to help you as you navigate considerations like your region, professional interests, and organic gifts (like critical thinking).

Do I Need Additional Licenses or Certifications to Teach With an Associate’s Degree?

The answer to this depends entirely on the state where you choose to seek a job, as well as the organization to which you apply and the role you’re after. If you choose to specialize in a certain subject area, that can require additional accreditation.

For example, if you have your heart set on becoming a paraeducator at a Title I school, you must obtain a teacher’s aide or assistant certification.9 Meanwhile, Special Education aids must be certified specifically in Special Education.10 In some states, including California, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a full licensure to serve as a substitute teacher.11 Gain additional tips from our guides like How to Become a Substitute Teacher in California to explore all possible career paths in education.

Is An Associate’s Degree in Education Worth It?

Benjamin Franklin once remarked that “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Few would disagree. An associate’s degree in education can supply students with advantages that go beyond gaining an understanding of the skills needed to work in childcare and school settings. These include:12

  • Reduced tuition costs – Whether you choose to stick with an associate’s degree or apply your credentials to a four-year program (or longer), an associate’s degree tends to be less expensive than a bachelor’s degree. 
  • Less time – One of the most appealing aspects of an associate’s degree in education is that it requires less time than a bachelor’s degree. This may equip you to enter the workforce—and start earning a living—sooner.
  • Superb flexibility – You might have a penchant for art, or a desire to teach children the basics about health. Whatever your interests may be, many associate’s in education degree programs permit students to focus on a specialized topic.

Further, an associate’s degree in education empowers you to explore the field of learning before committing to a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree.

This is not to say an associate degree is without faults—the primary one being that all 50 states in the nation require public school teachers to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, as well as state licensure.13 The upside of this? You can enter a four-year education program with two years already behind you. 

What Can I Expect to Learn Pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Education?

In addition to acquiring a broad comprehension of the education industry, an associate’s degree in education may furnish you with knowledge on:

  • Contemporary education trends
  • Constructing effective lesson plans
  • Working with children with behavioral, emotional, and cognitive challenges
  • Child development and psychology
  • Education technology

Another huge bonus is that you may gain hands-on experience that will prepare you well for the educational field.

Advance Your Career in Education with Alliant University’s Education Programs

“Can you be a teacher with an associate’s degree?” It isn’t just a valid question—it’s a critical one to ask if you’re interested in teaching.

While you won’t be able to become a fourth grade biology teacher, you may find that an associate’s degree suits your needs perfectly, mainly by allowing you to hit the ground running. Alternatively, you might decide that a higher education degree is a wiser path for your long-term goals.

Wherever you may be in your decision, Alliant International University is a stellar place to start. With various degrees and certifications in the education field—from an MAE and an EdS in school counseling to Arizona and California teaching credentials—Alliant International University provides its students with the expertise they need to make a difference.

Check out Alliant today to jumpstart your journey in education.


Sources: 

  1. Staff, Teacher.org. “Teacher.Org Staff.” Teacher.org, September 15, 2023. https://www.teacher.org/blog/benefits-rewards-teaching-career/. 
  2. “Associate degree in education: Definition and FAQ” | indeed.com, June 24, 2022. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/associates-in-educat…;
  3. Green, Alison. “What Jobs Can You Get with an Associate Degree in Teacher Education.” Work, November 21, 2017. https://work.chron.com/jobs-can-associate-degree-teacher-education-2620…;
  4. “11 reasons to become a tutor: What you need to know,” January 26, 2023. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/reasons-to-become-tu…;
  5. Shelton, Caitlyn. “State-by-State Teacher Shortages (and What They’re Doing about It).” NewsNation, January 26, 2023. https://www.newsnationnow.com/us-news/education/education-reform/hold-h…;
  6. “Substitute teacher: Career definition, occupational outlook, and …” Accessed December 14, 2023. https://learn.org/articles/Substitute_Teacher_Career_Definition_Occupat…;
  7. Sparks, Sarah D., and Gina Tomko. “6 Challenges for Early Educators as Preschool Growth Halts.” Education Week, August 25, 2023. https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/6-challenges-for-early-educato…;
  8. “Substitute teacher skills: Definition and examples” | indeed.com, January 26, 2023. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/substitute-teac…;
  9. “Teacher’s Assistant Career Guide.” Teacher Certification Degrees, November 28, 2023. https://www.teachercertificationdegrees.com/careers/teachers-assistant/…;
  10. “Get the Job You Really Want.” Zippia. Accessed December 14, 2023. https://www.zippia.com/special-education-assistant-jobs/. 
  11. “What is required for a substitute teacher certification?” - learn.org. Accessed December 14, 2023. https://learn.org/articles/What_Is_Required_for_a_Substitute_Teacher_Ce…;
  12.   Seiter, Cecilia. “Earning an Associate Degree in Education: Everything You Need to Know.” Forbes, July 28, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/education/education-associates-degree/.&…;

  13. “Q&A: Can I become a teacher without a bachelor’s degree?,” March 29, 2023. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/can-i-become-teacher…;

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