Start Your Career in Educational Technology – 2020 Guide

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Educational technology is an exciting career field that could lead to work in many different environments. While you might work in a school or design software to be used in schools, you could also be involved in training for a business or the military. You might also work for the government or a nonprofit. Educational technology encompasses any job that involves teaching or training individuals, whether they are students, employees or soldiers. It is a field that might have a number of different job titles as well, including curriculum developer, corporate trainer, media specialist, online instructor and more.

People vs. Machines

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The first decision to make when you are considering pursuing this career is whether you want to be more on the training or the design side. In other words, do you want to spend most of your time working with people, using the latest innovations to teach them, or do you want to create educational and training material? Many people start in one area and move into the other, or switch their focus back and forth. You may eventually find yourself doing this as well, but when you are just starting out, it’s a good idea to have a single focus. As a trainer or educator, you might serve as the technology specialist in an elementary, middle or high school or you might run corporate training programs as part of a company’s human resource department. Various types of instructional design could include creating software that universities will use for their online classes, designing a specific curriculum for a certain academic subject area or making a training program for a particular employer or industry.

What to Study in School

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One reason choosing a focus is important is because it will affect your concentration in school. You’ll need some education training and some technology training no matter what, but you may take more classes in one area or the other depending on what you plan to do after you graduate. One common concern for students is how to pay for school. You can cover tuition and other costs using savings, grants and scholarships. You can also take out student loans. Many people take out a mix of federal loans, but also private loans from Earnest. Like purchasing a home, student loans are considered one of the few kinds of “good” debt since a college education usually increases your lifetime income. You’ll also increase your marketability with a graduate degree, and in any case, a master’s degree in educational technology or a related field will be a requirement. Some schools will want you to have a certificate in instructional technology or industry-related certifications in instructional technology. If you plan to work in schools, you may also need a teaching certification. A background in software coding can also be helpful.

Entrepreneurial Possibilities

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If you are interested in the field but also can’t seem to let go of the idea of starting your own company or working for yourself as a consultant, don’t let that stop you. There’s even a hot new buzzword, “teacherpreneurs”, that describes teachers who combine these passions. From creating and selling your own curriculum online to starting your own online tutoring company to consulting as a specialist, there are many possibilities that will allow you to revolutionize the world of education and run your own business at the same time.

Qualities That Will Help

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One of the most important aspects of your job is fostering an enthusiasm for technology in both students and teachers. This means you’ll need to be an effective communicator. Even if your primary focus is on creating and designing instead of teaching and training, the better you are communicating your ideas and what you believe they can do, the more successful you can be. You need to have strong problem-solving skills and have the type of personality that sees issues that arise as challenges rather than roadblocks. If you are working for a large organization or school district, your job description might be fairly narrow, but in small organizations and school systems, you might be hands-on with many different parts of the job, including decisions about purchasing and budgeting.

What Steps to Take

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This is such a varied field that it can be overwhelming trying to decide what and where your focus should be. Keep in mind that as you take classes and later progress in your career, that focus will tend to narrow on its own. However, you may be looking for a general blueprint for the best approach to pursuing this career.

Your first step should be getting a bachelor’s degree in education, educational technology or something similar. Next, you may want to look into an internship. This might be school-based or it might be industry-based depending on your main area of interest. If you need to get teacher certification, this is the time to do it. Next, you should pursue a master’s degree in a degree such as instructional technology, curriculum and instruction or something similar. Your state may also have a licensing exam related to this, and you should take this after completing your master’s. At this point, you can start applying for positions.

Of course, there are many variables. The military tends to have its own specialized career paths, and if you are interested in pursuing a career there, it’s probably best to talk to recruiters. You’ll also need to decide whether you want to work as a civilian or if you want to enlist. Be sure to look at the benefits and drawbacks of both approaches. As is the case with any career path, you’ll benefit from networking and finding mentors along the way. Your university professors, your school’s alumni association and professional organizations can all be good sources for this. You might also look into seminars related to your specialty. While you may be able to learn valuable things from online seminars, nothing substitutes for the opportunities to network at a more traditional seminar setting, so you may want to try to attend at least one.