K-12 Curriculum Developer – Job Description and Salary Information
K-12 curriculum developers oversee elementary and secondary school curriculum and teaching standards. They develop instructional material, coordinate its implementation with teachers and principals, and assess its effectiveness.
Also known as curriculum coordinators, instructional coordinators and curriculum specialists, these professionals typically have several years of teaching experience before moving into this role.
The majority of curriculum developers have a master’s degree, as well as teaching certification to work in public schools.
Our guide offers insights into the required education, salary and job outlook of the curriculum development profession. Browse through the content or use the following links to jump to your desired destination:
At-a-glance: K-12 curriculum developers
|Typical study time||6 years|
|Job Outlook 2014-2024||7% increase|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Curriculum developer job description
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.
As a curriculum developer, you’ll spend your time meeting administrators, reviewing student test data, observing teachers in the classroom and occasionally instructing teachers on new instructional methods. In some cases, you may also be responsible for selecting specific textbooks based on the curriculum you designed or for writing grant proposals.
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.
You may specialize in a particular grade level, such as elementary or high school, or specific subjects, such as language arts or math.
Some 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.
Who makes good a good curriculum developer?
Someone who has:
- Analytical skills to examine student test data and make recommendations for improvement in curriculum and teaching
- Effective writing skills
- Good interpersonal skills to establish effective working relationships with teachers and school administrators
- Creativity — able to think of new ways to engage students
- Leadership skills to coach teachers on effective instructional strategies
Interested in becoming a curriculum developer?
Hear what Carol Muhn, a curriculum specialist at Leonard Herman Intermediate School in San Jose, California, has to say about her career.
Curriculum developer job duties
Curriculum developers typically do the following:
- Analyze student test data
- Review and recommend textbooks and other educational materials
- Observe work of teaching staff to evaluate performance, and to recommend changes that could strengthen teaching skills
- Recommend teaching techniques and the use of different or new technologies
- Develop procedures for teachers to implement curriculum
- Train teachers and other instructional staff in new content or programs
- Mentor or coach teachers to improve their skills
Pros and cons of being a curriculum developer
- Variety — no two days are alike.
- Intellectually stimulating work.
- Helping students learn, but without daily classroom responsibilities.
- Time spent traveling between schools.
- Work schedule is year-round.
- Teachers may not be receptive to input from the curriculum specialist.
How to become a curriculum developer
If you want to be a curriculum developer, you will most likely need to earn a master’s degree in education or curriculum and instruction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports most instructional coordinators (97 percent) have education higher than a bachelor’s degree, and 73 percent have a master’s degree. To enter a master’s degree program, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in teacher education or subject specialty such as math, English or history.
Certification requirements for curriculum developers
Many school districts require curriculum developers to pass the state teacher licensing examination. Some districts require an educational administration license as well. Additional credentials vary by school district, and can include 18 months of teaching experience or the completion of a certification course in your subject area specialization.
Curriculum developer salary
The median salary of a curriculum developer in 2014 was $62,270, according to the BLS. The highest paying industry is the federal government, with $89,370 reported as the mean annual salary. Government-related positions overall fared higher than the norm, with $66,970 reported as the average salary. Other salary-based websites report an average salary of $56,007-$70,213.
- $59,620 (Glassdoor.com)
- $56,007 (Payscale.com)
- $70,231 (Salary.com)
- $63,000 (SimplyHired.com)
The BLS predicts a 7 percent growth rate for curriculum developers through 2024. 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 job opportunities for curriculum developers with 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.
Professional development for curriculum developers
As a curriculum developer, it’s important to stay current with the newest educational technologies, as well as new instructional methods.
Professional associations for curriculum developers
There are several professional associations available to curriculum developers. Because most of them have already been teachers for a number of years, they are probably a part of the National Education Association. There is also ASCD, an organization dedicated to educators and administrators and formerly known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Curriculum developers may also join groups pertinent to the subject they specialize in, such as:
- International Reading Association
- Council for Exceptional Children
- National Council for Teachers of Mathematics
- National Council for the Social Studies
- National Council of Teachers of English
- National Science Teachers Association
- National Association for Music Education
Benefits of continuing education
Continuing education is a requirement for sustained licensure in many states. Professional organizations such as the ASCD offer professional development courses where curriculum developers may earn CEUs.
Best of the Web: our favorite curriculum developer blogs, websites and Twitter handles
Favorite curriculum developer blogs and websites
Favorite curriculum developer Twitter handles
- Carrie Sturch: @TigerCurriculum
- Cathy Fisher: @D60Curriculum
- Denise Jordan: @curriculum_lady
- Debbie Van Horn: @curriculum_girl
- Courtney Lockridge: @soonerhorns
Related career: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