Educational Technology Specialist Career Guide
Educational technology specialists, also known as instructional technology specialists or EdTech specialists, collaborate with teachers and school administration to facilitate the use of technology in classrooms and the school as a whole. An educational technology specialist should be well-organized with proficiency in technology and an aptitude for teaching. With the increasing use of various technologies in schools, instructional technology specialists are rapidly becoming key participants in reshaping the learning process. This guide provides further information on what educational technology specialists do, how to become one, and their salary and job outlook.
Educational Technology Specialist Job Description
Educational technology specialists (ETS) or instructional technology specialists often work in elementary, middle, and secondary schools (private or public), colleges or universities, government agencies, or in corporations and non-profits. They play a key role in identifying appropriate educational technology for all types of classroom applications, including the needs of special education students. EdTech specialists frequently collaborate with educators and administrators in curriculum design by sourcing or creating new technologies to be used in classroom instruction. Using past program data and outcomes, they assist school administrators in identifying and correcting problems and deficiencies within current technology-based programs. Educational technology specialists frequently train teachers and others on using hardware and software in the learning process.
Instructional technology specialists also implement and maintain computer networks as well as technology-based learning hardware and applications. An important aspect of an EdTech specialist’s job in a school setting is to foster both appreciation for and understanding of how technology can impact learning and in turn, each student’s future.
Educational Technology Specialist Requirements and Common Tasks
Educational technology specialists commonly have a master’s degree in education technology and may be certified teachers and/or hold an endorsement in educational technology or administration. In addition to master’s degrees in education (M.Ed. or EdM), education technology degrees are also available in other graduate degree types, including Educational Specialist (EdS) degrees, Doctor of Education (EdD) degrees, and PhD in Education degrees.
The ideal ETS candidate has excellent problem-solving and communication skills. Knowledge of technology including computer-based training software, web page creation and development software, and photo and video creation and editing software will be helpful for prospective instructional technology specialists. Educational technology specialists identify, design, and effectively incorporate technology plans, tools, and programs into a school’s learning environment. ETS candidates should be able to instruct both teaching staff and students in the use of technology-based learning tools. On a day-to-day basis, an educational technology specialist is involved in assessing students’ educational needs and matching those needs with appropriate technologies. They may also work with teachers to enhance and update class curricula. Part of an educational technology specialist’s job may be in technical support, such as troubleshooting and maintaining computer hardware and software. Some ETS professionals may also be involved in budget planning for their school or district.
How to Become an Educational Technology Specialist
Qualifying for a job as an instructional technology specialist typically requires a minimum of a master’s degree, preferably in educational technology or a related subject. Many schools also look for certification in instructional technology or industry-related IT certifications. Depending on the employer and job scope, a teaching certificate may also be a requirement. In states that offer educational technology certification or endorsement, such as Texas, New York, and Georgia, the EdTech program completed should hold approval from the state board of education. Typically, the steps towards becoming an educational technology specialist at a public school are:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in educational technology, education, or another related subject.
- Complete a school-based internship.
- Take your state’s tests for teacher certification and become licensed, if required.
- Earn a master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree in educational technology, instructional technology, or a related degree such as curriculum and instruction.
- Take your state’s licensing exam for educational/instructional technology and get an endorsement, if necessary.
- Apply to educational technology specialist positions.
Coursework in curriculum assessment and development, classroom learning support/development, data research/interpretation, and leadership development will form the core of most educational technology programs. Through courses such as these as well as supplemental training, prospective educational technology professionals will learn how to source and implement emerging classroom technologies across different media.
Helpful Skills and Experience
An instructional technology specialist should be technologically savvy, organized, and possess excellent communication skills. These specialists must also have strong problem-solving, research, and planning skills. Some schools prefer instructional technology specialists to have programming or coding experience. Prior teaching experience is also helpful for EdTech specialists to build their understanding of classroom management and how technologies are actually used in a classroom setting. While not a requirement in all school districts, many schools look for ETS candidates who can write software or website modules to support classroom activities, so courses or certifications in software coding can also be helpful for this career.
Educational Technology Specialist Salary and Job Outlook
The work that educational technology specialists do is similar to that of instructional coordinators, who make a median annual salary of $64,450.1 The job outlook for instructional coordinators is bright, with a job growth rate of 6% projected through 2028, which is about the same as most jobs.2 ETS candidates can find career opportunities in elementary, middle, and secondary schools as well as in universities and in private and government organizations that offer classroom-based training. Licensed teachers are often ideal candidates and can advance their careers by completing an educational technology specialist program.
EdTech Career Interviews
- Instructional Coach, Marisa Kaplan
- Learning and Technology Consultant, Tony Vincent
- Lead Technology Facilitator, Jon Bergmann
Possible Job Titles for This Career
- Educational technology specialist
- Instructional technology specialist
- Instructional coordinator
- Instructional technologist
- Education design specialist
- Learning development specialist
- Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT): An association that works to provide professional development for educators and administrators focused on instruction through technology.
- International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE): A member-driven organization that seeks to improve education through technology and student-involved teaching methods.
- School Technology Blogs: Our list of the innovative school technology blogs for educators.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Do I need certification to become an educational technology specialist?
Answer: Many states do have teaching certification or administrator certification requirements for educational technology specialists, particularly if the specialist will have a role in classroom instruction. It’s best to check with your state department of education or a local ETS program for guidelines specific to your state. If you are planning to work in a private school or at a corporation or other business, you may not need certification. You may also be interested in our guides to traditional and alternative teacher certification.
Question: Where can I work with a degree in educational technology?
Answer: In addition to working directly with school districts, educational technology specialists find work with private companies that design and develop instructional materials, such as multimedia textbook publishers and new media instruction companies. ETS professionals also work for not-for-profit and government organizations.
Question: Can I earn a degree in educational technology online?
Answer: Yes! Many schools offer undergraduate and master’s degree programs in educational technology online that can prepare you for this career on a flexible schedule.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Instructional Coordinators https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm