What is a Curriculum Director?

A curriculum developer is like the wizard behind the curtain at schools and other educational settings, deciding on and designing what the teachers will teach and what the students will learn. As most of us have sat in classrooms throughout our lives, we’ve likely never given much thought to who was pulling these strings, tending to assume that teachers are the ones responsible for what students learn. In fact, teachers in today’s educational systems largely go by the script, or rather, by the lesson plan and the textbook, and the school’s curriculum developer will have played a large part in designing that lesson and selecting that textbook. Thus, curriculum developers, who may also be called curriculum specialists or instructional coordinators, can wield a pretty significant influence over the education of students at their school. Of course, these professionals use research, assessments and other data to make their decisions, and it should come as no surprise that a master’s degree is the minimum requirement for employment in this position.

Curriculum Developer Job Description

Summed up, the overall job description for a curriculum developer is to design the instructional material that will be presented to the students at the school, to oversee its implementation in the classroom and to assess its effectiveness for students. All this is of course done in accordance with the learning standards set in place by the school board and the state, especially if the curriculum developer is working at a public school.

On a daily basis, a curriculum developer may be found in the classroom observing teachers, in his or her office analyzing student test data, around campus interviewing school staff, or at a convention reviewing new textbooks. Based on what he or she finds, the curriculum developer makes recommendations to principals, conducts teacher training conferences and develops teaching procedures.

Curriculum developers may oversee the instructional content for an entire school, or they may specialize in certain subject areas or oversee a certain age or grade range.

Work Setting

The majority of curriculum developers are employed by elementary and secondary schools, both public and private. Others work for colleges, universities or professional schools. Still others work for institutions catering to adult learners, and some corporations and agencies hire curriculum developers to create training content for their employees or staff. The government also hires curriculum developers to oversee federal educational regulations.

Job Outlook and Pay

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 curriculum developers earned a median annual salary of $62,270. Those hired by the government are paid the most highly, while those who work for colleges and universities generally have the lowest salaries.

The U.S. Burea of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for curriculum developers will grow at a rate of 7 percent from 2014 to 2014, about as fast as average for all professions.

Job Requirements

To become a curriculum developer requires at minimum a master’s degree and at least several years of related work experience, for example as a teacher or school administrator. Some curriculum developers have educational backgrounds in the subject area they plan to specialize in, such as science or teaching English as a second language. Most however will have a master’s degree in education. Degree programs in curriculum and instruction are also an option.

Related Resource: Become an Instructional Coach

Is Curriculum Development The Career For You?

If you aspire to make an impact on the schools in your community, a career as a curriculum developer may be the way to go. True, teachers will always be the face of education, and teaching provides more real, direct contact with the students. Nevertheless, when it comes down to what American students know and how they learned it, the curriculum director is the one calling the shots.