Adult GED Teacher: Job Description and Salary Information
Job prospects can be grim for adults who haven’t earned a high school diploma. If you’re interested in helping to close this education gap, you may want to consider becoming an adult GED teacher.
Adult GED teachers help adults earn their general education development (GED) certificate — the equivalent of graduating from high school. Because almost all jobs require at least a GED certificate, teaching adult GED students gives you a chance to help them find work and improve their lives.
This guide will provide an overview of what it takes to become an adult GED teacher, including the prerequisite education, likely income, and advantages and disadvantages of this career. Browse through the article or use the following links to skip forward to what you’re looking for:
At a glance: adult GED teachers
General educational development (GED) exams have four subject tests that assess high-school-level academic skills. Adult GED teachers ensure their students gain the knowledge and skills they need to pass the GED exams.
Adult GED teacher job description
Adult GED teachers instruct their students in reading, writing, math, social studies and science. Adult GED teachers also help students improve their critical-thinking, problem-solving and communication skills.
At the beginning of the course, an adult GED teacher assesses each student’s academic capabilities. These initial assessments help the teacher customize their learning programs, lesson plans and teaching methods to suit each student’s precise needs.
Adult GED teachers test their students’ abilities both formally and informally throughout the course. Regular tests allow the teacher to evaluate student progress and modify lesson plans and learning goals based on what’s working and what’s not.
Many GED courses meet early in the morning or later in the evening because most students have work and family obligations. Adult GED teachers must keep in mind their students have important responsibilities competing for their attention outside of class. However, students typically choose for themselves to enroll in an adult GED program, so they usually are highly motivated to succeed.
Adult GED courses are offered by non-profit organizations that support adult education, public or private schools, community colleges, community support centers and for-profit education companies. Some adult GED courses enroll people who are incarcerated to give them a better chance to succeed after their release. The actual classes are usually held at a school, library or other community building.
Income projections for adult GED teachers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and various career-centered websites offer average salary estimates for adult GED teachers.
- BLS: $50,280
- PayScale.com: $39,917
- Salary.com: $46,413
The BLS estimates average job growth over the next 10 years for this career.
Who makes a good adult GED teacher?
People who are:
- Sociable and easy to talk to
- Patient and resourceful
- Good at motivating and inspiring students
- Organized and careful about time management
- Devoted to learning
- Thoughtful about interacting with people from diverse backgrounds
- Able to express ideas precisely in writing and in oral presentations
- Qualified with a degree in an education-related field
Interested in becoming an adult GED teacher?
Check out the video to gain a perspective on what it’s like to be an adult GED teacher.
Different types of adult GED teachers
The path to a career as an adult GED teacher depends on where you want to teach. Most adult GED teachers work in either full-course high school equivalency programs or short-course GED test-preparation programs.
Full-course adult GED teachers
These teachers instruct students in two- to six-month courses that provide the equivalent of a high school education to adults preparing to take the GED exam.Continue reading to learn more about full-course adult GED teachers
- What full-course adult GED teachers do
- Educational and certification requirements
- Pros and cons of being a full-course adult GED teacher
What full-course adult GED teachers do
Full-course adult GED teachers give their students the equivalent of a high school education in classes that last from eight weeks to an entire semester (four to six months). These high school equivalency classes are offered by many community colleges, high schools, non-profit adult education programs, and state or local correctional departments.
Full-course adult GED classes cover a vast swath of academic material in a relatively short time. The main subjects include:
- Language arts (reading comprehension, writing and editing)
- Math (arithmetic, quantitative reasoning, algebra and geometry)
- Social studies (geography, civics, economics and U.S. history)
- Science (chemistry, physics, biology, physiology and the scientific method)
Adult GED students and teachers must commit significant attention and focus to the course if they hope to absorb the material and succeed on the GED exams. Adult GED teachers must keep courses organized and carefully planned. During each class, they:
- Lead students through lessons and in-class skill exercises
- Assign homework (essays, worksheets and projects)
- Assess student progress via their performance on homework, quizzes and in-class participation
- Tailor future lessons and homework based on their assessment of student progress
Adult GED teachers may also work with students one-on-one or in smaller groups outside of class. They usually set aside time outside of the daily class schedule to prepare for each day’s lesson and to grade student work and tests.
Educational and certification requirements
Adult GED teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree at minimum. Some states also require full-course adult GED teachers to be certified to teach elementary or secondary school. Some jobs may also require a master’s degree. Internships with educational institutions or prior student teaching experiences also are common requirements.
Many adult GED programs seek out teachers certified in adult basic education (ABE). The ABE certification exam tests for mastery of the literacy, math, history and science content covered in the GED exams.
Pros and cons of being a full-course adult GED teacher
As you consider a career in this field, make sure to take into account the positive and negative parts of the job.
- Help low-income and immigrant students earn an opportunity for better jobs
- You need only a bachelor’s degree (and a teaching credential in some cases)
- Working irregular hours can leave your day free
- Not as prestigious as other teaching jobs
- May include contacting students or assessing student work on the weekends
- Some adult GED programs are underfunded or lack administrative support
Short-course adult GED teachers
These teachers instruct students enrolled in intensive GED test-preparation courses.Continue reading to learn more about short-course adult GED teachers
- What short-course adult GED teachers do
- Educational and certification requirements
- Pros and cons of being a short-course adult GED teacher
What short-course adult GED teachers do
Short-course adult GED teachers help their students pass the GED exam with an intensive test-prep class usually lasting from two to six weeks.
Short-course adult GED test-prep classes give students an overview of GED testing content. Teachers work with students to improve academic skills and learn the best test-taking strategies. They also administer frequent practice exams so students are ready to succeed when taking the actual GED test.
Short-course adult GED teachers lead both in-person GED prep classes and online GED test-prep programs. Online programs are often better for students who have difficulty getting to a scheduled class or face learning difficulties in traditional classroom settings.
Online GED test-prep classes include lots of online practice quizzes and downloadable study guides that students review on their own time. Teachers are available for questions, review and one-on-one tutoring via video-chat applications.
Short-course GED exam-preparation classes are usually operated by for-profit educational test-prep companies.
Education and certification requirements
There are no universal minimum requirements for short-course adult GED teachers. However, most employers seek out teachers with a bachelor’s degree and teaching (or tutoring) experience. Some jobs may also require a master’s degree.
Pros and cons of being a short-course adult GED teacher
Keep in mind both the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a short-course adult GED teacher:
- Teach students who are dynamic, enthusiastic and eager for opportunities
- Rewarding to educate many first-generation college students, often from immigrant families
- Opportunity for breaks from work between courses
- Can be stressful to fit all course content into just a few weeks
- Courses may focus too much on testing and not enough on learning
- For-profit test-prep companies might have different priorities than non-profit organizations have.
Professional development for adult GED teachers
If you decide to become an adult GED teacher, you’ll want to start thinking about your career prospects, skills and connections. First, you should assess how your resume looks. If you’re missing a bachelor’s degree and teaching experience, you’ll want to earn that degree and start working in education as soon as you can. Working as a teaching assistant or tutor while you attend college might be a good approach.
Once you have a bachelor’s degree, a teaching certificate and some classroom experience, look into ways you can go above and beyond the minimum that most adult GED programs require. One way to make yourself stand out and improve your salary prospects is to earn a master’s degree in an education-related field.
Benefits of continuing education
Becoming an adult GED teacher requires a high level of teaching skill. You must have expertise in pedagogy to succeed as an adult GED teacher. If you want to improve your abilities as an educator, consider pursuing a master’s degree in an education-related field.
Additional jobs for adult GED teachers
With additional education or certification, adult GED teachers may become librarians, instructional coordinators, assistant principals, principals, or an educational administrator at a college or university.
Elementary and secondary school teacher: Many Adult GED teachers also work as elementary and secondary school teachers. You must have a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential.
Librarian: A master’s degree in library science (MLS) is generally required for employment. Some states also require librarians to pass a standardized test.
Instructional coordinator: Instructional coordinators generally need to complete a master’s degree related to a subject like curriculum and instruction, and they may be required to have a teaching or educational administrator license.
Academic advisor: With a master’s degree in an education-related field, you can transition into being an academic advisor at either the K-12 or college/university level.
Education consultant: Adult GED teachers can become education consultants if they want to tackle challenges in a variety of schools and education systems. You’ll probably need an advanced degree in an education-related subject.
Education policy analyst: With an advanced degree in an education-related subject, adult GED teachers can become policy analysts and examine big-picture issues affecting education nationwide.
School principal: Adult GED teachers wishing to become a school principal should seriously consider earning a master’s degree in an education-related field. Most states also require public school principals to be licensed as school administrators.
Educational administrator: Depending upon the position, either a bachelor’s or master’s degree may be required. For a higher-level position such as dean or president, a master’s degree or doctorate in educational leadership may be required. Some states require you to earn a school administrator license for these jobs.
Best of the web: our favorite adult GED teacher blogs and websites
The web makes it easy for us to stay connected to prominent adult GED educators. Here is a list of our favorite websites and blogs, in no particular order:
Favorite adult GED teacher websites and blogs
- Professional Development Workshops for Adult GED Teachers
- GED Academy
- Working in Adult Literacy
- Get Your GED Now Blog
Favorite adult GED teacher Twitter handles
- Teacher Robert: @TeacherRobert1
- Bernie Floresca: @BernieFloresca
- Damon Tinnon: @GETYOURGEDNOW
- Adult Learning Center: @ALC_VB
- Noal Weiland: @noaliekate
Ready to Research Degree Programs?
- "Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers
- "Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers and Instructors," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015