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 computers 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 an educational technology specialist, and educational technology specialist salary and outlook.
Educational Technology Specialist Job Description
Educational technology specialists (ETS) or instructional technology specialists (ITS) work in elementary, middle, and secondary schools. 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 and understanding of how technology can impact learning and each student’s future.
Educational Technology Specialist Requirements and Common Tasks
Educational technology specialists commonly have a bachelor’s degree in education technology. A certificate or degree in a specialized ETS course of study is beneficial and may be required by some employers. Licensed teachers may choose to pursue a master’s degree in education technology to expand their career options.
The ideal ETS candidate has excellent problem-solving and communication skills. A knowledge of technology including computers, technology hardware and software, and the Internet are necessary skills for an ITS. 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 curriculum. Part of an educational technology specialist’s job is technology support, such as troubleshooting and maintaining computer hardware and software. 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 requires at the minimum a bachelor’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. Earning a master’s degree may make candidates more competitive and lead to higher earning potential. In states where educational technology specialists are required to be licensed, the ed tech program completed should hold approval from the state board of education. Typically, the steps towards becoming an educational technology specialist are:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in educational technology or a closely related subject, such as instructional technology.
- Complete a school-based internship working in educational technology and design.
- Take your state’s tests for educational technology specialists and become licensed, if required in your state.
- Apply to entry-level positions in educational technology.
- Consider a master’s program in ed tech or other post-graduate IT programs to advance your credentials.
Courses such as 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. While many instructional technology specialists have a bachelor’s degree, the majority of those working in this field hold a master’s degree.1 Upon successful completion of an educational technology program, graduates may become qualified for state certification in the instructional technology specialty; not all states offer or require this certification before employment.
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 certification in software coding can 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 an average annual salary of $62,270.2 The job outlook for educational technology specialists is bright, with a job growth rate between 5% and 8% projected through 2024.2 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.
- Top School Technology Blogs – Our list of the top 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. 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. O*NET OnLine: Instructional Designers and Technologists https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/25-9031.01
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Instructional Coordinators https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm