Become a Curriculum Designer: Career Guide

Learn how to become a curriculum designer. Research the job description and education requirements ,and find out how to start a career in curriculum design.

Should I Become a Curriculum Designer?

Curriculum designers, or instructional coordinators, develop educational programs and instructional materials for schools, organizations and companies. They can also assist the teachers, principals or other customers in the implementation of the curriculum and evaluate how well it's working after a period of use. Unlike most teachers who may work only during the school year, curriculum designers tend to work year-round.

Positions in curriculum design often require a mix of experience and specialized education. Teaching is often a jumping-off point for prospective curriculum designers so most people want to begin their careers with bachelor's degrees or master's degrees and teaching experience. However, teaching experience may be most relevant for individuals wanting to work in K-12 education. Positions at private companies that provide curriculum materials for specialized areas may value extensive subject matter knowledge, technology skills and technical writing skills more than teaching experience. The following table represents common requirements for curriculum designers.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's degree may be preferred
Degree Field Education, instruction and curriculum design
Experience 3-5 years in education management or teaching with some experience developing curriculum materials
Licensure A teaching or education administrator license may be necessary, requirements for licensure vary by state
Key Skills Instructional skills, ability to work collaboratively, knowledge of subject area, organizational and project management skills, familiarity with web design, online learning management systems and the ability to create online curricula
Salary $64,040 (Annual mean salary for an instructional coordinator)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2014)

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

Curriculum designer positions require at least a bachelor's degree. The most relevant degrees are in education, instructional design or instructional technology. Bachelor's programs in education often include courses in teaching and psychology, whereas instructional design or technology programs offer courses in curriculum design, Web design and multimedia technology.

Success Tip

  • Find opportunities to develop technical design skills. Online curricula and computer-based learning tools are becoming increasingly common at all levels of education. Aspiring curriculum designers may want to incorporate technology into their teaching as early as possible in order to develop expertise.

Step 2: Obtain a Teaching Credential or Education Administrator License

A teaching credential or education administrator license is a requirement for those who plan on working in the public school system. The State Board of Education or equivalent state licensure committee determines teaching credential requirements, which may include a bachelor's degree, basic skills test, completion of a training program and supervised practice teaching experience. For candidates whose bachelor's degrees are not in education, there are alternative licensing programs that circumvent the need for certain education courses. Education administrator licensing is regulated by the state. Most states require candidates to have completed some amount of graduate training and some may also require you to pass an exam.

Step 3: Gain Relevant Work Experience

The curriculum designer position is not an entry-level one and may require 2-5 years of relevant experience. This experience may come from teaching, designing training materials and/or developing curricula. Many prospective curriculum designers begin as a teacher in an area of particular interest and gain work experience that way.

Step 4: One Way to Advance your Career: Earn a Master's Degree

Earning a master's degree not only gives you more experience but also allows you to network with other professionals in your field. The expertise, experience and the professional references you meet as a result of your master's degree may help to advance your career.

In addition, certain employers, particularly public school systems, may expect curriculum designers to possess a master's degree in an education-related field. Master's degree programs in instructional design or technology typically expound upon ground covered in undergraduate studies, but they also cover additional topics such as distance learning, evaluation techniques and instructional material development.

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