A master's degree in education--sometimes referred to as an "Ed.M."--can not only advance your career, it can add to your bank account as well. A 2007 article by Liz Pulliam Weston found that educators with a master's degree earned $106,000 more over their careers than those who held only a bachelor's degree in the field. Many school systems--including the State of Washington and State of Delaware public school systems--pay teachers based on the degrees they've earned as well as any supplemental credits beyond that.

Step 1

Earn your bachelor's degree. Whether you're applying for a master's program online or at a traditional on-campus facility, an undergraduate degree is a prerequisite. Your bachelor's degree does not necessarily have to be in the education field, although individual programs may factor that into the admissions process.

Step 2

Compare online and on-campus programs. The website "Degree Directory" offers a list of top online schools that offer a master's in education program.

Step 3

Pick a focus for your studies. A wide range of master's programs in education are available, including Early Childhood Education, Education Administration, Guidance Counseling, Curriculum and Instruction. Some programs--such as Early Childhood Education and Instruction--will focus on in-classroom techniques, while other programs--like administration and curriculum--will focus on non-teaching skills.

Step 4

Apply for or enroll in an accredited master's degree program in education. Application procedures will vary based on individual schools and programs.

Step 5

Pass your classes in order to earn your diploma. The time it will take to earn this degree will vary based on the program and your approach to it. According to Harvard's Graduate School of Education, full-time programs can take as little as 1 year to complete; if you plan to attend school only part-time to earn your degree, it can take longer.

Step 6

Continue earning credits for classes taken post-graduation. Many schools, including Columbia University's Teachers College, offer continuing and professional studies. Schools may also offer non-degree programs that allow participants to earn credits beyond their master's degree, but which do not lead to the conferring of an additional degree.

Step 7

Note how many post-graduate credit hours you have earned. This information can be used by current teachers for a salary increase. In the State of Delaware, these post-graduate courses must be at the graduate level and directly relate to the educator's field of work. In Washington, a first-year teacher who has already earned a master's degree and 45 post-graduate credit hours will be paid just over $3,000 more than a first-year teacher with a master's degree alone.

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