Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Career Guide

A curriculum and instruction specialist is a school administrator who works on developing and improving curricula and assessing the effectiveness of curricula 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 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 materials for use in the classroom, advising teachers and administrators on education regulations, and suggesting innovative ideas that will enhance teaching and learning. In this guide, you will find information about the curriculum and instruction specialist job outlook, salary, common tasks, and frequently asked questions.

Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Job Description

A curriculum and instruction specialist is tasked with developing new curricula or improving existing curricula at a school. They may conduct research and make recommendations to the administration. They may also work with teachers and administrators to evaluate existing curricula 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 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 To be considered competitive for a curriculum and instruction job, there are typically 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. 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. Developing curricula for new courses, supervising class content, implementing curriculum changes, interpreting regulations, and planning or advising on the 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.

How to Become a Curriculum and Instruction Specialist

Many states require curriculum and instruction specialists to become licensed. This means that candidates must first earn a bachelor’s degree and be able to pass the same background checks as classroom teachers in order to work in a school environment. This also means that the curriculum and instruction program completed should generally be approved by the state board of education for the state in which it is located. The process is therefore similar to that for traditional teachers, as follows:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in curriculum and instruction or a closely related subject, such as instructional design.
  2. Complete a professional portfolio and/or practicum in a local school district.
  3. Take your state’s required tests for curriculum and instruction specialists, if applicable.
  4. Apply to your state for the appropriate license.
  5. Start applying to open positions.

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 showcasing their skills and development, which commonly will include lesson plans and educational papers. Curriculum and instruction degree candidates will also usually be required to take a state test, such as the Praxis: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, 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.

Those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject but want to become curriculum and instruction specialists might consider a master’s degree program that leads to initial licensure.

We have researched the not-for-profit teaching schools in the US offering a curriculum and instruction program and compiled the table below of the best value options. To make our list, schools must have a high graduation rate (85% or above) and a low net price (less than $20,000 per year). A high graduation rate is a traditional indicator of a school’s success, while a low net price represents the affordability of a school. The combination of a high graduation rate and a low net price, along with other factors, suggests a good value school. In the table below, we’ve also included other important information about these schools, including retention rate, transfer out rate, default rate, percentage of tenured faculty, and US News & World Report national and best undergraduate teaching rankings.

Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median annual salary of $62,270 for instructional coordinators.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 7% employment growth from 2014 to 2024 for instructional coordinators, which is about average compared to all occupations.2

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

Curriculum and Instruction Degrees and Programs

Searching for Schools...
Matching School Ads

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 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. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Instructional Coordinators: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm
2. O*Net Online, Instructional Coordinators: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/25-9031.00