Course Developer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the preparation needed to become a course developer. Research the job description, educational requirements, key skills and certification options to see if a career in the field of training and development could be the right choice for you.

Essential Information

According to job postings found on, course developers often work with human resources departments to implement employee training programs about topics ranging from company policies to new equipment to professional skills. Some work in a corporate setting, either directly with employees or with fellow instructors, while others may find employment within educational institutions. Undergraduate and/or master's degrees are a common requirement in this profession. Course developers may work under various job titles, including the following:

Instructional CoordinatorHR SpecialistTraining & Development Manager
Required EducationMaster's degree at minimumTypically, bachelor's degree at minimumTypically, bachelor's degree at minimum
Other Requirements Often, specialized licensing in teaching or administrationOften, certification or on-the-job experienceOften, master's degree with a specialized concentration
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 13%*8%*11%*
Average Salary (2014) $64,040*$62,590*$111,030*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

Job duties vary based on industry, but some common duties for course developers working in human resource departments may include researching company needs and drafting course outlines. During the research phase, course developers review multiple variables, such as corporate structure, employee knowledge base, employee training preferences and training deadlines. Course developers use this information to determine how to structure each course, what skills to cover and what communications tools to utilize.

After creating potential training courses, developers test these courses to verify that they are effective. Testing may involve having small groups of employees go through training courses. After each group completes a course, they often fill out surveys to determine what they learned from training. Answers from these surveys allow course developers to adjust training modules as needed.

Course developers and instructional designers employed by colleges and universities may work in an advisory role. Their duties might include helping faculty to devise online lesson plans, and then implementing those plans. They may need to have an understanding of Web design technologies, such as HTML and Dreamweaver. Those who work with elementary and high schools may play a more direct role in creating lesson plans, assignments and a formal curriculum for a specific course.

Job Requirements


According to the BLS, workers in the human resources and training industry are often required to have the minimum of a bachelor's degree for employment. Recent job postings for course developers listed on also showed an employer preference for applicants with bachelor's degrees.

Undergraduate degrees in human resources may prepare workers for this career field, but other majors, such as communications or education, may also provide necessary job training. Human resources courses may cover training and development, labor relations, problem-solving, business law and organizational behavior. Other relevant degree programs include those in instructional design and technology. Such programs provide students with the technical training to create corporate training seminars or produce instructional simulations. Those who wish to work in course development for an educational institute may be required to have a bachelor's or master's degree in the area they wish to work, as well as a teaching credential.


Not all employers require certification, per the BLS; but since course developers are in a niche field within human resources, certification may help them prove their years of experience and expertise to potential employers. Several trade organizations within the industry offer certification programs, including the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI).

While there may not be many course developer certification programs, HRCI does offer a more general option: the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification program. Eligibility for the PHR exam includes several years of experience within the industry. The exam covers topics such as workforce planning, business management, labor relations, risk management and human resources development.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, in May 2014, instructional coordinators -- who help develop curricula for schools -- earned an average annual income of $64,040. Alternatively, human resources specialists earned an average annual salary of $62,590; while at that same time training and development managers for businesses earned an average annual wage of $111,030. During the 2012-2022 decade, the BLS estimated that instructional coordinators would experience 13% employment growth, approximately as fast as average for all occupations. Comparatively, the BLS projected that human resources specialists would see 8% growth; while training and development managers would experience 11% growth during that same interval.

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