Do you love education and children, but you don’t necessarily want to teach five days a week? Then you should consider being a curriculum developer. The role goes by several other titles as well, including “instructional coordinator,” “curriculum specialist” and “instructional designer.”
A curriculum developer works behind the scenes in education to ensure that material taught in each course not only complies with state standards, but is also taught in an effective and developmentally appropriate way. All grade levels utilize curriculum developers, although responsibilities can vary based on a school district’s resources and the specific grade level. Interested candidates must enjoy working with administrators and children, as well as designing lesson plans within a specified framework.
Work environment and job duties
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 133,000 instructional coordinator jobs existed in May 2013, with 38 percent of those in public and private elementary and secondary schools.
A K-12 curriculum developer can work with one or several public or private schools to ensure that all teaching material is effective and that it meets state education standards. Because of the necessary licensing and educational background, most curriculum developers work in either elementary or secondary education. A K-12 curriculum developer who worked in both elementary and secondary education would typically work at a very small, private school.
As a curriculum developer, you’ll spend your time meeting administrators and occasionally instructing teachers on new instructional methods in the classroom. To accommodate teacher availability, many curriculum developers must schedule meetings before and after school hours. In some cases, you may also be responsible for selecting specific textbooks based on the curriculum you designed.
Raising standardized test scores is an overarching goal of most curriculum developers working at public schools, although some specialize in other fields as well, including gifted and talented education, special education and English as a second language. In an effort to raise scores, curriculum developers are often charged with explaining new standards to teachers, and assisting them in using the appropriate technology during their lesson plans.
The amount of necessary travel depends on district funding. For example, many school districts share a curriculum developer to save costs, which would require you to travel between multiple schools. In rural districts, this can mean a significant distance between destinations.
The hours of a curriculum developer may offer more day-to-day flexibility than a teacher’s schedule. However, you also are unlikely to get the summer off.
Requirements and education
A bachelor’s degree is a must for working in almost any field related to educational administration. Regardless of where on the K-12 spectrum you work, almost all curriculum developers hold a master’s degree. This is especially true for middle and high school curriculum developers, who often specialize in the subject area they work most closely with, such as math or English. Many universities offer advanced degrees or certificates in curriculum development or curriculum design through M.Ed programs.
Most public schools also typically require curriculum developers to pass the state teacher licensing examination. Some districts require you to hold an educational administration license as well. Additional credentials vary by school district, and can include 18 months of teaching experience or completing a mandatory certification course in the area you intend to specialize.
Salary and career outlook
In May 2013, the median salary of an instructional coordinator was $60,610. Those who worked in public and private elementary and secondary schools earned a median $65,770, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of this group earned $93,840, while the bottom 10 percent earned $35,000.
The job growth rate of instructional coordinators is expected to increase 13 percent through 2022. Various factors account for this above-average growth rate, including an increasing emphasis on school accountability and instructional efficacy. The risk of losing federal funding has made public schools more committed to maximizing the material and instructional methods in recent years.
Note that the job opportunities for curriculum developers within a particular district depend considerably on funding. To save money, districts that once had a curriculum developer in each school may require several schools to share one curriculum developer.Learn More: Click to view related resources.
- "Instructional Coordinators," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013
- "Occupational Outlook for Instructional Coordinators," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Instructional Coordinators