Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Career Guide

A curriculum and instruction specialist is an administrative position that works on developing and improving curriculum at a school and assessing the effectiveness of curriculum and instruction. The typical applicant seeking a job as a curriculum specialist will have experience teaching in the classroom or serving as an education administrator. Often a supervisory position, individuals in the curriculum and instruction specialist career focus on different ways to improve learning opportunities for students and educators alike. Improvements are made through research, development and testing of new curriculum and teaching methods, selecting appropriate textbooks and materials for use in the classroom, advising teachers and administrators on education regulations as well as new and innovative ideas that will enhance teaching. When a new course is developed, a curriculum specialist may be responsible for determining what classes should be included, the order and appropriate materials and method of instruction to make the class most beneficial. In this guide you will find information about curriculum and instruction specialist outlook, salary, common tasks, and frequently asked questions.

Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Job Description

A curriculum and instruction specialist is tasked with developing new curriculum or improving existing curriculum at a school. They may conduct research and make recommendations to the administration. They may also work with teachers and administrators to implement new curriculum, evaluate existing curriculum, and assess the quality of instruction.

Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Requirements and Common Tasks

In nearly all states, a curriculum specialist is required to hold the state teaching or education administrator certification or licensure. A master’s degree in education is also required in most circumstances. According to O*Net Online, 73% of instructional coordinators have a master’s degree and 20% have a post-master’s certificate.2 Depending on the pay and expected required tasks of a particular position, if a candidate is to be considered competitive for a curriculum and instruction job, there may be minimum experience requirements. All curriculum specialists must have a desire to enhance and improve the education system. They must be familiar with current guidelines, policies and regulations as they pertain to education in a given area. A successful curriculum coordinator will work well in large groups and be able to teach, guide and mentor other teachers and administrators. Curriculum development jobs also require strong interpersonal and communication skills. On a day-to-day basis, curriculum and instruction specialists assess education programs and constantly look for ways to improve them. In many school districts, a curriculum specialist may be responsible for providing guidance and direction to multiple schools. Development of curriculum for new courses, supervision of curriculum content, implementation of curriculum changes, interpretation of regulations and planning or advising on the best technological materials and textbooks for given courses are among the typical tasks fulfilled by a curriculum and instruction specialist. Additionally, they may provide teacher training and observe teachers in the classroom.

How to Become a Curriculum and Instruction Specialist

Students earning a curriculum and instruction degree will take coursework in areas such as teacher leadership, research methods, and curriculum planning. Students will also be required to complete a portfolio showcasing their skills as an outstanding candidate for a curriculum and instruction degree. Lesson plans and educational papers, proving the student’s skills in various areas, make up the portfolio. Curriculum and instruction degree candidates will also be required to take a state test, such as the Praxis in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, to demonstrate content knowledge. Once the student completes a curriculum and instruction program the school will send the information to the appropriate state for certification. Upon receiving a degree in curriculum and instruction, the graduate can apply to the state for the additional certification endorsement.

Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual salary of $60,050 for instructional coordinators.1 Level of education, experience teaching and/or serving as an education administrator, coupled with location, are primary determining factors in potential salary earned. The BLS projects a 13% employment growth from 2012-2022 for instructional coordinators which is about average compared to all occupations.

Helpful Skills and Experience

Having advanced communication and organization skills will help candidates be effective in this career. Curriculum and instruction specialists also need advanced knowledge about curriculum design and teaching theory.

Possible Job Titles for This Career

  • Curriculum and Instruction Director
  • Curriculum Coordinator
  • Curriculum Director
  • Curriculum Specialist

Additional Resources

Instructional Coordinators, Bureau of Labor Statistics – The BLS provides information and data on an instructional coordinator career.

Curriculum and Instruction Degrees and Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Curriculum and Instruction Specialist

Question: What degree do you need to become a curriculum and instruction specialist?

Answer: Most employers require a master’s degree to work as a curriculum and instruction specialists. Some curriculum and instruction specialists have a master’s degree in the field they specialize in such as math.

Question: What is the difference between a curriculum and instruction specialist and an instructional coordinator?

Answer: There are several job title variations that describe professionals who develop and coordinate curriculum.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm
2. O*Net Online: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/25-9031.00