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Adult Education Courses and Schools

As thousands of adults pursue continuing education programs at technical schools and vocational colleges, demand for teachers who specialize in adult career education continues to rise. Adults interested in taking business classes, English and grammar courses, or other supplementary courses to enhance their career or lifestyle enroll in continuing education programs and need guidance from an experienced instructor. Adult career education is also known as self-enrichment education, and most educators who complete an adult education degree program work on a part-time basis or are self-employed.

Completing an adult education online offers an alternative option for instructors who do not want to attend a campus to complete their training. Programs available in an online format can offer more flexibility for those who are working full time and want to complete their degree. Becoming an educator for adults is very different than teaching high school or college students, and some adult education courses themselves can be offered online.

What is an Adult Education Degree?

Adult continuing education degree programs are designed to train students in how to teach and train adults in a variety of courses and subjects. Most adult educators have extensive life experience in a particular field or subject category so they become subject experts; they can then deliver programs and instruction to adults by learning how to teach and preparing necessary curriculum.

A formal adult education degree program provides training on how adults learn, how to teach in a formal classroom setting, and how to teach in a corporate setting. These degree programs are a supplement to an existing bachelor's degree, and are typically a part of a Master of Arts or Master of Science program at a college or university.

Adult Education Degree Requirements

The adult education degree program is usually a Master's degree program that can be completed in under two years. These degree programs supplement an existing degree in the student's field of specialization; for example, an accountant who has completed a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance may pursue an adult education degree so that they can teach accounting classes. The course format involves assignments, quizzes and examinations; some schools offer hands-on training by allowing students to role-play or shadow an instructor to gain experience.

Students interested in completing an adult education degree program can enroll in courses such as adult learning theory, self-directed learning principles, teaching assessment and evaluation, distance education delivery, and curriculum design. More and more courses are now being offered online, and a degree may also include courses related to teaching over the Internet. Training may encompass both online and offline settings so that students can teach in both learning environments.

Types of Adult Education Courses

The majority of continuing education courses and programs are limited to short sessions of just one or a few classes per week. The classes are typically introduction or beginner's classes, but some educators may choose to offer one-on-one lessons as well. Common enrichment courses offered by a trained instructor include:

  • Cooking

  • Painting

  • Financial planning

  • Gardening

  • Internet skills

  • Foreign language

  • Literature

  • Playing a musical instrument

  • Teaching a sport

Educators who have extensive business or corporate experience may also conduct workshops, seminars and classes for business professionals who want to enhance their career skills or explore other areas of their industry.

Completing an Online Adult Education Program

Completing a degree online offers many advantages for students who want a more flexible schedule and do not want to attend a campus setting. Several distance learning opportunities for a master of arts in education are available, and the online format can be just as valuable as completing the degree onsite.

An online adult education program is delivered in a unique format; it is often comprised of: online presentations from the instructor; communicating with students via e-mail; participating in discussion forums; and collaborating with students on projects by using online platforms.

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of completing an online program is the ability to then teach adults in an online setting; the online learning environment offers an enriching experience for adult learners, and can be an efficient format for teaching many different types of continuing education classes.

Job Opportunities and Employment Prospects After Adult Education Training

An adult career education provides several skills and specialized knowledge for teaching adults in a classroom or corporate setting. Some instructors move into fields of public speaking and conducting group seminars or training, and may be hired as independent contractors by companies and businesses who want to teach employees about a specific subject.

The median hourly wage of self-employed, self-enrichment teachers was $16.08 in 2006 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Occupational Statistics. Adult educators may also pursue positions as training managers, education administrators for a postsecondary school, or corporate training specialists. Median annual salaries range from $35,000 to $75,000+ depending on the field, the instructor's experience and the level of degree completed.

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Adult Education Courses and Schools