Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Career Guide

A curriculum and instruction specialist, also called an instructional coordinator, is a school leader who works on developing and improving curricula and assessing the effectiveness of curricula and instruction. Instruction specialists also give guidance to teachers on their teaching methods. In this guide, you will find information about the curriculum and instruction specialist job outlook, salary, common tasks, and frequently asked questions.

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How to Become a Curriculum and Instruction Specialist

Many states require curriculum and instruction specialists to become licensed educators. This means that candidates must first earn a bachelor’s degree, take the required state exams, and be able to pass the same background checks as classroom teachers in order to work in a school environment. This also means that if you are not already certified to teach in your state, the curriculum and instruction program you choose should probably be approved by the state board of education for the state in which it is located. The process to become a curriculum and instruction specialist is therefore similar to that for traditional teachers, as follows:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in education or in another subject area from a program approved by your state’s board of education.
  2. Complete a professional portfolio and/or practicum in a local school district during your program.
  3. Take your state’s required tests to become certified.
  4. Apply to your state for the appropriate license.
  5. Complete a graduate program in curriculum and instruction.
  6. Start applying to open positions as an instructional coordinator.

Students earning a curriculum and instruction degree will take coursework in areas such as teacher leadership, research methods, and curriculum planning. A curriculum and instruction program will also typically require students to complete a professional portfolio or thesis showcasing their skills and development, which commonly will include lesson plans and educational papers. Curriculum and instruction degree candidates may also take a state test, such as the Praxis, to demonstrate content knowledge and qualify for licensure. Upon receiving a degree in curriculum and instruction, the graduate can apply to the state for the additional certification endorsement if offered, and/or apply to jobs as a curriculum and instruction specialist. See our list of best value schools offering curriculum and instruction specialist programs.

Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Job Description

The typical applicant seeking a job as a curriculum specialist will have experience teaching in the classroom or serving as an education administrator. Often in a supervisory role, curriculum and instruction specialists focus on different ways to improve learning opportunities for students and educators alike. Improvements are made through research, development, and testing of new curricula and teaching methods, selecting appropriate textbooks and learning materials for use in the classroom, advising teachers and administrators on education regulations, and staying current on educational trends that will enhance teaching and learning.

They may also work with teachers and other administrators to evaluate existing curricula and assess the quality of instruction. Curriculum specialists typically have a desire to enhance and improve the education system. They must be familiar with current education guidelines, policies, and regulations. 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.

Common Tasks

In nearly all states, a curriculum specialist is required to hold state teaching or education administrator certification or licensure in the public school system. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that instructional coordinators working in public schools need a master’s degree in education or curriculum and instruction to practice, though positions outside of the public school system may be available with different requirements.1 In all cases, there are typically minimum experience requirements, which may be accumulated in the classroom, in school administration, or a combination of both. Types of graduate degrees in curriculum and instruction include:

On a day-to-day basis, curriculum and instruction specialists assess education programs, ensure that they meet state and national guidelines (if in the public school system), 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, whether it’s across grade levels, content areas, or departments. Developing curricula for new courses, supervising class content, implementing curriculum changes, interpreting regulations, and planning or advising on technological materials and textbooks are among the typical tasks fulfilled by a curriculum and instruction specialist. Additionally, these professionals often provide teacher training, based in part on observing teachers in the classroom.

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
  • Instructional Coach
  • Instructional Coordinator

Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Salary and Job Outlook

The BLS reported a median annual salary of $66,490 for instructional coordinators as of 2022.1 A candidate’s level of education, experience teaching and/or serving as an education administrator, and location are determining factors in potential salaries for this position. The BLS projects 2% employment growth from 2022 to 2032 for instructional coordinators, which is about average compared to all occupations.2

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

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 specialist. Most curriculum and instruction specialists have a master’s degree in either curriculum and instruction or another type of pedagogical degree in a specialty field, 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, which may be used differently in different school districts. In many cases, the terms “curriculum and instruction specialist” and “instructional coordinator” are interchangeable.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Instructional Coordinators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes259031.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Instructional Coordinators: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm