5 Reasons NOT to Get a Degree in Education

Dec 6, 2021

Throughout the United States and beyond, the traditional pathway to teaching typically involves earning a bachelor’s degree in education through an accredited college or university and passing a licensure exam. While this may be the most common option, it certainly isn’t the only way to become an educator.  

Teaching is becoming more and more accessible to people from all walks of life. Alternative options such as subbing or teaching at private and charter schools are more lenient for education and certification requirements. There are even some unique benefits to taking the road less traveled. Here are the top five reasons you should NOT get an Education degree and instead take an alternative or nontraditional route to teaching. 

Avoid four more years of college. 

Assuming you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree, there’s no need to go back to get another one in education. Many alternative pathways to teaching — including substitute teaching, teaching overseas, and emergency teaching — accept candidates with bachelor’s degrees in a range of subject areas. Due to critical teacher shortages, some states are specifically looking for those with knowledge in high-need subjects, such as math, science, special needs, and bilingual education. You may need to submit an official college transcript or complete a competency exam, but it is no longer essential to have a degree in education to lead a classroom. 

Save your time and money; get paid while you learn!

While the traditional route requires a 4-year degree in education (averaging $35,000 per year in costs!) and a stint of unpaid student teaching, alternative pathways are much more efficient. Several options require minimal startup costs, such as paying an application or authorization fee to become a substitute teacher or covering the cost of a competency exam. At most, some alternative routes require you to complete an accelerated teaching certification program, which can take 1-2 years to complete and cost as little as $4,000.  

These alternative teacher preparation programs focus on practical instruction and allow you to start teaching as early as possible. You may even be able to secure a paid position as part of your program! Whether it’s through student teaching, subbing, or Career and Technical Education (CTE) teaching, you can earn between $100 and $200 a day. 

Get teaching to fit into your schedule. 

One key advantage to going the nontraditional route is its flexibility. Many options are offered online and with adjustable timelines so future teachers can prepare at their own pace. Plus, these alternative teaching programs often work directly with school districts so that you can receive training while you teach, putting your new skills to work right away.

Whether you are juggling multiple jobs, family responsibilities, and/or financial obligations, these alternative pathways are designed to be as accommodating as possible so that you don’t have to put the rest of your life on hold while you pursue teaching. 

Feel more confident in the classroom and your career.

Believe it or not, teachers from alternative pathways and programs stay in education longer. According to research by the National Association for Alternative Certification, 83% of teachers from nontraditional routes teach for longer than three years, while only 60% of those from traditional routes do the same.

This makes sense when you think about it. Most undergraduate students pursuing a degree in education start teaching in their early 20s before they have enough time to understand their strengths and career interests fully. In contrast, teachers that come through alternative pathways range from ages 22 to 65 and typically have more life and work experience. You’ll be able to start teaching with more confidence and a more developed skillset, which will make you an effective leader in the classroom. 

Help create a more diverse representation of teachers.

Schools are now recognizing and valuing different types of work experience and educational backgrounds in their potential teachers to diversify their staff. By offering these alternative pathways to teaching, schools can attract and retain professionals that can more easily fill subject gaps, teaching shortages, provide unique perspectives, and support the specific demographics of the student population. Teaching in substitute, emergency fill, CTE, or overseas positions are in-demand jobs essential to creating a seamless and enriching educational experience for students. Know that your unique background and perspective are valued as you help shape the minds of tomorrow’s future leaders. 


Are you still unsure about starting or switching your career to teaching? Substitute teaching may be the easiest and quickest way to try it out. 

Online tools, such as Teaching Nomad’s substitute teaching job board, can help you explore the available opportunities by location, grade level, subject area, and requirements. Register with us today, and we’ll connect you with the best substitute teaching jobs in the U.S. and beyond. We’ll even pay for your background check and provide free training!


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