Continuing education (CE) for teachers represents a direct pathway to advancement, providing professionals with the competitive edge necessary to attain a rewarding and profitable career. While most states and schools require teachers to earn a minimum number of continuing education units (CEUs) or continuing education credits (CECs) every five years to renew their teaching licenses, many teachers opt to pursue additional certifications and degrees for their own career advancement.
Higher education institutions and education companies offer courses, trainings, and workshops designed to meet your continuing education requirements and goals. The following information can help you better understand the importance of continuing education to your career, introduce you to several types of CE opportunities, and connect you with valuable CE resources.
Why Is Continuing Education Important for Teachers?
Continuing education proves essential to working teachers who wish to stay current on new ideas and best practices in education. It consists of academic, graduate-level courses that provide relevant, in-depth education to teachers seeking CE credits needed for state relicensing. Although many busy teachers take only the required number of relicensure credits, others exceed these requirements by earning a graduate degree or credential that offers the added benefit of salary or career advancement.
Frequently Asked Questions on Continuing Education for Teachers
- What is the difference between professional development and continuing education?
- Professional development focuses on efficient coverage of current topics and counts as nongraduate hours or units toward state relicensing. CE courses require submission of a university transcript and yield transferable academic credits that a teacher may use toward a degree program. However, states, schools, programs, and websites tend to differ in their use of the terms "continuing education" and "professional development," so contact your licensing agency to determine whether a course meets the specific requirements of your district and state.
- Does continuing education have to be a full degree program?
- Teachers seeking to advance their careers and increase their salary sometimes opt to pursue an advanced degree. However, you do not have to enter a full degree program to earn continuing education credit.
- Are teachers required to pursue continuing education?
- Almost all teachers must pursue continuing education to keep their teaching licenses current. Although re-licensure requirements vary by state (and sometimes by school district), many states require teachers to complete 6-12 graduate-level credits of continuing education to renew their five-year teaching license. Other states only renew five-year licenses if teachers complete 75-300 clock hours of nongraduate professional development.
- How do I know if a specific course is a good value?
- CE opportunities vary in quality and value, so check for positive reviews before enrolling in any classes. Look for courses that boast a content-focused, collaborative, active-learning approach combined with modeling and feedback from experts.
Eight Reasons for Teachers to Pursue Continuing Education
Promotion or Salary Increases for Teachers
Continuing education -- particularly within a degree program -- often qualifies teachers for leadership positions and/or higher pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a teacher's salary with a master's degree is significantly higher than teachers who only hold a bachelor's degree.
Job Performance and Image
Learning and applying new ideas, methods, and skills can improve a teacher's teaching quality, personal confidence, and professional image.
Best Teaching Practices
Continuing education exposes teachers to current theories, practices, and technologies in an increasingly complex and specialized discipline.
By providing specialized skills and knowledge, continuing education often benefits teachers seeking to move into a new education field, become administrators, or change careers entirely.
Personal Development and Interests
Continuing education allows teachers to step out of their teaching roles, enjoy being learners, and sometimes even pursue academic fields or hobbies that interest them personally.
Time Management Skills
Taking courses while also fulfilling work and family obligations keeps teachers busy, and continuing education encourages the development of time-saving skills and techniques that enable top performance.
Job Marketability and Security
By increasing a teacher's credentials, continuing education helps teachers become more qualified and desirable to employers. This desirability may prove increasingly important as the educational career landscape shifts and more people earn advanced degrees.
Because students enrolling in graduate education courses usually already work as teachers, taking graduate courses allows them to develop networks and join communities of teaching practitioners.
Continuing Education Options for Teachers
Continuing education can include shorter-term workshops, trainings, and seminars, as well as noncredit and for-credit courses. In some cases, your school administrators may hire third parties to deliver teaching workshops and seminars onsite at your school; however, teachers often have to arrange and pay for their own continuing education journey.
Many teachers pursue CE options online, although attending courses on campus at nearby colleges and universities may be a more attractive option for those who prefer in-person learning. If you are seeking to obtain career-advancing credentials, online or local certificate programs or master's and doctoral degrees provide a great way to take your career to the next level.
- Workshops and Seminars
Weekend or week-long continuing education workshops and seminars offer efficient ways of fulfilling nongraduate credit requirements. Although these options may not translate directly into pay raises, they often build a teacher's skills, confidence, and awareness of current teaching problems and strategies. Workshops and seminars typically serve as affordable and quick ways of meeting one's professional development quota, and some schools will pay to bring a workshop or other program to their site.
- Mindsteps: Demonstrating the application of Mindsteps' seven principles of effective instruction, these workshops determine and address teaching challenges that workshop participants face in their own classrooms. Educational institutions often hire Mindsteps to give workshops at schools, but online learning options also exist. Prior participants report high return on investment.
- Heinemann Seminars and Workshops: Heinemann offers onsite seminars, online courses, and offsite workshops and retreats focused on general topics, including reading, writing, math, and comprehension.
- Staff Development for Educators: SDE holds conferences, online seminars, and onsite workshops designed to help teachers stay current on trending topics, such as project-based learning, technology and integration, and engagement in classroom management.
- Genuine Lindamood-Bell Workshops: These research-validated K-12 teacher workshops -- offered online or onsite -- focus on math and phonemic awareness, visualization, and verbalization.
- aha! Process, Inc. Workshops: A social justice-oriented organization dedicated to increasing resource equity and community sustainability, aha! Process offers onsite workshops for K-12 schools, higher education, communities, workplaces, healthcare settings, and the criminal justice sector.
- Noncredit Online Courses
The flexibility, affordability, and availability of noncredit online courses allow teachers to educate themselves and meet their professional development quotas from the comfort of home. In addition, due to the wide array of online courses available, this option allows you to pursue important and specific topics related to your own classroom. Prices vary, but many online courses cost only a few hundred dollars and take only a few weeks to complete.
- Mount Wachusett Community College: This college offers K-12 CEUs, social media courses, and certificates. It also offers teaching courses related to gender in the classroom, generational learning styles, online learning and K-12 teaching, substitute teacher preparation, cell phones in the classroom, and teaching students with autism.
- Advancement Courses: This site offers courses designed to help teachers advance their salaries and meet continuing education requirements. Topics available include teacher wellness, teaching gifted and talented students, teaching at-risk students, new teachers, and parent and community impact.
- National University: National University's affordable CEU online courses address contemporary teaching challenges, including attention deficit/hyperactivity, autism and Asperger's, child abuse, bullying, inclusion, diversity, and aggression.
- Wichita State: Wichita State offers noncredit teaching courses that cover fundamental K-12 subjects like Spanish, physical education, physics, math, English, history, and social studies.
- University of Phoenix: University of Phoenix offers more than 100 four-week online continuing education courses for teachers. Topics include classroom management, curriculum development, instruction, reading methods, early childhood education, online teaching, and special education.
- Online Courses for Credit
Online for-credit graduate courses allow you to meet your state's graduate-level CE requirements without having to go to a college campus every week. Online graduate courses at accredited institutions also provide you with academic credits that can put you on the path to an advanced degree.
Although graduate courses may prove more expensive than noncredit courses or workshops, graduate coursework may offer a great return on investment when it is used to attain an advanced degree and secure a higher teaching position/salary. Although accelerated options exist, many online graduate-level courses meet weekly over a full semester.
- CE Credits Online: CE Credits Online offers courses that meet graduate-level professional development credit requirements for teacher recertification and salary advancement. Courses vary by state but cover a variety of education topics, including ESL/ELL learning, classroom engagement, parent engagement, bullying prevention, teaching technologies, and special education.
- PBS TeacherLine: This site provides many resources, including 15-, 30-, and 45-hour self-paced online graduate courses on topics related to math, science, social studies, reading, and instructional technology and strategies.
- ed2go Teacher Professional Development Online Courses: ed2go offers affordable online courses on many essential teaching topics, including teaching creatively, understanding adolescents, special needs teaching, classroom discipline, reading and writing strategies, and computational strategies.
- University of La Verne Professional Development Courses: These nondegree, graduate-level courses include topics such as teaching in the digital age, cognitive teaching approaches, experiential education, ELL brain learning, and special needs brain learning.
- Learners Edge: This site partners with universities to connect teachers to over 100 courses that cover topics like positive interventions, movement's role in learning, neurodiversity, social emotional learning, and cultural competency.
Learn More About Online Continuing Education Programs for Teachers Near Me
Do you want to pursue an advanced degree, despite your busy schedule? Fortunately, many online degree programs can meet your needs for flexibility and affordability as you pursue your career goals. Most online master's degree programs for teachers allow you to complete your degree from home and move at your own pace.
Whether you wish to improve your performance at your current teaching job, enter a specialized teaching area, or transition out of teaching into an administrative or training role, you can find an online degree that will help you along your path. The links below will introduce you to ranked lists of master's programs that can help you advance your career and increase your salary.
Building a Resume Highlighting Continuing Education
If you pursue continuing education with the goal of getting a promotion, earning a higher salary, or changing your career, you must take care to highlight CE activities on your resume. Your continuing education credentials demonstrate to your current institution or potential employers your dedication to improvement and growth in your field. Use the following tips to showcase your education qualifications and your commitment to professional development.
List Only Relevant Items: Employers do not appreciate resumes listing information irrelevant to a position; consider carefully which of your continuing education and professional development accomplishments are relevant to the job you are applying for.
List Most Important Items First: Employers often do not read whole resumes carefully. Optimize your chances by putting your most significant or impressive continuing education achievements at the top of your list.
Emphasize Recent Continuing Education: Because education issues and best practices change over time, employers consider currency when evaluating your continuing education work. Therefore, list dates for recent continuing education efforts, and leave off the dates for continuing education earned five or more years ago.
Put Education Credentials on the First Page: When applying for education-related jobs, put your degrees, certifications, and other academic credentials in an education and professional development section on the first page of your resume. When applying to jobs in other industries, the education section often goes on the last page.
Use Keywords and Precise Descriptions: Provide full course, training, workshop, or certification program titles when listing your continuing education work. Because resumes often get sorted and searched electronically by keywords, using titles containing these keywords can help your employment chances. Education keywords include curriculum development, inclusion, classroom management, K-12, brain-based learning, special needs, and technology integration.
Sample of Continuing Education Section on a Resume
Education, Professional Development, and Affiliations
Bachelor of Arts, Education – Western Washington University
"Creating Compassionate Classrooms: Overcoming Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES)." CE Credits Online, 2018.
"Gender in the Classroom." Mount Wachusett Community College, 2015. Workshops
"Being the Change: Teaching Through Identity and Social Comprehension" with Sara K. Ahmed. Heinemann, 2019.
National Education Association
American Federation of Teachers
Additional Resources on Considering Education for Educators
The professional organizations, chat boards, and support tools listed below can provide helpful information to teachers seeking to stay on top of current trends and continue their education. These sites explain how to find and evaluate the right CE opportunities and degree programs to meet your career goals.
- A to Z Teacher Stuff: This site offers teaching products, information about teaching examinations, and grade-specific and general teaching discussion forums. The site's fully searchable archive may prove useful to those wishing to explore a particular question or issue.
- All Education Schools: This site offers overviews of associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral teaching degree programs and explains how to evaluate a teaching program's quality.
- American Federation of Teachers: A professional organization for teachers, AFT serves many purposes, including advocacy, education, and networking. Its site provides a description of effective professional development for teachers and offers links to various informative conferences and other resources on continuing education.
- Learning Bridges - Teacher Support Tool: This site offers teaching tools aligned with state and common core standards. Offerings include instructional strategies, lesson plans, parent activities, professional development, and an online community of teachers.
- Learning Policy Institute: The Learning Policy Institute offers a useful, research-based outline for evaluating the quality of continuing education and professional development for teachers.
- National Education Association: This association provides advice, support, and resources designed for public school teachers. It also holds important teaching conferences and events that can count toward noncredit CE requirements.
- Pro Teacher: This site has a regular following of teachers who post information and opinions on a variety of teaching topics.
- Teacher Certification: Visitors to this site can access information regarding state continuing education and other teaching requirements, a list of online general teaching schools, a career guide, a teacher certification blog, and lists of teacher education resources related to specialized teaching topics.
- Teacher Certification Degrees: This website offers a comprehensive guide to teacher certification, including teaching requirements by state; descriptions of teaching degrees, degree levels, and careers; and a searchable list of schools offering in-person and online continuing education for teachers.
- Teachers.Net: This site boasts 150 specialized chat boards, including state chat boards for those interested in state-based teaching information. Given its size, this site often provides quick replies to questions.