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3 business-focused career options to explore with a master’s in adult education

At a glance

  • Individuals who graduate with a master’s in adult education might pursue business-focused roles, such as training manager, learning and development director, or training and development director.
  • Certification is not typically required to be a training manager and training and development director. However, a master’s degree and experience may be helpful for leadership roles in this field.
  • Positions in adult education also leverage talents such as communication, confidence to make decisions and the ability to collaborate.
  • University of Phoenix offers a Master of Arts in Education/Adult Education and Training that can help prepare graduates for business roles in adult education. Graduate in as little as 16 months with fixed tuition and flexible courses!

What is adult education?

Adult education, sometimes referred to as continuing education, is the act of teaching people basic skills and knowledge who are past the age of primary and secondary schooling. Adult learning can look like covering the basics of literacy and language, teaching non-native speakers how to speak English, or leading organizational training and development for employees.

Becoming an instructor who helps people earn a high school diploma or high school equivalent certificate, such as the General Education Development, or GED, diploma, is another option. Additionally, as mentioned above, there are also roles in the business side that help employees learn new skills or receive required corporate training.

What role does it play in business?

Because adult education is different from primary and secondary education, this typically means there are alternative approaches to teaching and learning. Therefore, specific curricula and training are required to teach adult learners. This opens up new educational roles for those interested in both curriculum design, training management and adult education.

Businesses usually require employees to go through corporate training to learn new technology or stay up to date on trends in their industry. This is where adult education comes in. These professionals aid in employee development by creating curriculum based on their training needs. They are not only critical to providing lifelong learning opportunities to help employees stay relevant, but companies benefit as well by the cost savings associated with retaining and upskilling employees.

To succeed in developing adult learners, these employees must have an understanding of the knowledge and skills required to engage working adults. Possessing these skills can help motivate adults to reach their potential and help businesses thrive.

The Master of Arts in Education/Adult Education and Training (MAEd/AET) is a non-licensure, business-minded degree with a foundation of educational theory and practice. The MAEd/AET prepares individuals to train and educate adults and build educational programs that engage adult learners using a variety of delivery formats.

“The MAEd/AET program prepares candidates especially well for a career in a business setting by preparing candidates to understand the process of organizational change and how to communicate effectively to stakeholders, as well as evaluate the educational and training needs of an organization.” – Ashley Bartley, Associate dean, College of Education

3 business-focused career paths for a Master’s in Adult Education

What does it mean to prepare for a future in adult education with a Master of Arts in Education/Adult Education and Training? Well, it depends on your interests. If you are interested in the business side of adult learning, such as leading workshops or developing a training curriculum, a master’s degree in adult education can help prepare you to pursue a variety of careers. Graduates of the non-licensure degree program at University of Phoenix might pursue roles such as training managerlearning and development director, and training and development director.

Let’s explore what this graduate degree can do for you and how helping adults meet their educational goals could become a career option for you.

Interested in earning your Master of Arts in Education?

1.   Training manager

Training managers typically plan, coordinate and teach new methods that specialists, like instructors and supervisors, can use when instructing an organization’s staff in knowledge- and skills-enhancement programs.

Job duties can include overseeing training and development staff, aligning with an organization’s goals, developing and implementing training programs, and evaluating the effectiveness of programs.

These programs depend on the organization where you work, but they can involve topics such as office productivity, teamwork workshops or safety procedures. The idea is to train staff on how to better an organization’s workforce.

To become a training manager, individuals generally need to have a combination of education and work experience. Many roles require a relevant master’s degree. However, some roles only require a bachelor’s degree.

Many employers expect work experience when looking for applicants to fill their management roles. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that some training managers begin as a training and development specialist to gain that necessary experience. Roles in teaching, human resources or management are all ideal first steps toward becoming a training manager.

The role doesn’t typically require industry certification, but some associations offer classes that can help improve knowledge in the training management arena. Examples of such associations are:

In terms of soft skills that are helpful for employability, communication and the ability to collaboratethink criticallymake decisions and lead are all good to develop.

2.   Learning and development director

Learning and development directors are similar to training managers, but instead of focusing on how to effectively manage the methods of instruction, these specialists focus on the instruction itself. Their role is generally to review and dissect existing training programs and then create and implement strategies on how to improve them.

Other job responsibilities may include:

  • Implementing instructor performance review
  • Consulting for organizations
  • Preparing the budget
  • Understanding the organization’s needs to provide relevant instruction

Education requirements for this role depend on the specific employer but can be either a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. Aside from school, several years of work experience is important for demonstrating that you can lead in this role with confidence.

This is another role in which leadership, communication and decision-making are crucial. Being able to decide what needs to be implemented within specific organizations — and then communicating those needs — is vital to this role. Since director positions are typically leadership roles, it’s important that applicants feel confident and prepared to take charge.

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3.   Training and development director

Training and development directors share similar responsibilities to managers in that they are responsible for leadingdesigning and implementing training programs that meet the needs of their organization. They take, however, a bigger-picture approach and often have a hand in many tasks. A manager typically identifies training needs, and a director guides the implementation of the solutions for those needs.

These professional job duties include:

  • Instructor selection, hiring and management
  • Course development and curriculum design
  • Trainee assessment methods
  • The tailoring of instruction to meet business-specific goals
  • Collection of data on the effectiveness of each program

Because this role relies heavily on leadership, it may require candidates to hold a master’s degree. Work experience in leadership or in relevant positions can also be helpful in preparing for a director role.

Additional credentials to consider include professional certifications from such organizations as the previously mentioned Association for Talent Development or the International Society for Performance Improvement.

And, of course, it is always beneficial to stay informed on the latest trends and technologies related to training and development. You might find this information through relevant conferences, webinars and workshop classes.

For example, the Training Industry Conference & Expo takes place at least twice a year and offers networking opportunities, breakout sessions and other discussions regarding organizational obstacles and solutions. So, if you’re a lifelong learner, you might enjoy this aspect of the role.

As these examples illustrate, education doesn’t apply only to K-12 students or even college students. A lifelong learning mindset means adults can benefit from ongoing training — and they need training and development specialists to provide it.

Equipped with the right knowledge and qualifications, you can become such a professional. And a master’s degree in adult education can be a valuable step toward achieving this professional path.

Earn a degree in adult education at University of Phoenix

Are you an adult learner who is interested in going to school to help other adults achieve their educational goals? Does the sound of a flexible college schedule and a fixed tuition appeal to you? University of Phoenix offers a non-licensure Master of Arts in Education/Adult Education and Training degree and other programs in general education, which can be completed in as little as 16 months. The UOPX Master of Arts in Education/Adult Education and Training covers topics such as:

  • Evaluating effective professional practice
  • Applying professional ethics to leadership practices
  • Evaluating community factors to address the needs of diverse populations
  • Evaluating research and synthesizing information from multiple sources
  • Identifying types of lifelong learning programs
  • Explaining the role of marketing within the field
  • Describing the characteristics of formal and informal adult education and training settings
  • Analyzing the purposes of adult education and training
  • Developing the knowledge and skills required for effectively engaging adult learners in distance learning experiences 

This education program also teaches valuable skills like understanding culturally diverse populations, incorporating technology into adult education and training programs, helping adults learn in self-directed and self-motivated ways, and how to serve adult students, colleagues, industries and communities as an expert educator and trainer.

Learn more about all the ways University of Phoenix can help you pursue your academic goals. Here, you’ll learn from faculty who bring their average of 26 years of experience in the field they teach. You’ll have access to around-the-clock resources and support and access to our Career Services for Life® after you graduate. And we can help you save both time and money on your degree through fixed tuition, scholarship opportunities and potential credit for work and life experience. 

Michael Feder


Michael Feder is a content marketing specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program and a New Jersey native!


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