PROS / You can be involved in the teaching process without having the same duties as a teacher.
CONS / Most positions are year round and do not have summers off.
VERDICT / The number of open positions is growing more quickly than other education careers.
Many job titles describe this position within education careers. Some of these include: curriculum specialist, instructional coordinator, personnel development specialist, instructional coach, instructional designer and director of instructional material. A curriculum developer is the person behind the scenes who supports teachers and plants the newest technology in the classroom and curricula. They assess teaching strategies and suggest ways to instruct students more effectively. Occasionally, they will even teach students, using new methods. When new state and federal guidelines come out, the curriculum developer assists teachers to incorporate these new standards into classrooms. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that this education job will grow the fastest until 2018. If you are interested in education careers, learn more about higher education teaching and special education teaching, our number two and three reviews respectively.
While salaries can range with location and school district budgets, O*NET reported that the average curriculum developer made 58,780 dollars in 2009. Most people’s salaries ranged from 33,520 dollars to 93,340 dollars annually.
In 2008, the number of curriculum developers was 133,900. The BLS projects that by 2018, the number will have risen to 165,000. This 23-percent increase in open positions is much faster than average according to the BLS. The BLS suggests that those with experience in math, science and reading will especially be in demand. Those working with continuing education courses, students with special needs and English as a second language are in demand as well.
The BLS expects this large increase of growth because of changes that are occurring in the education standards. New curricula need to be created to incorporate state and federal standards. Additionally, teachers need training on how to implement these guidelines into their classrooms.
Usually, curriculum specialists begin their careers in teaching jobs or in administrative positions. Informational coordinators, according to the BLS, can move to higher administrative positions, or leave the education field and work in the private sector as a manager or an executive. A curriculum developer can also write curricula for special education.
Unlike other educators, many do not have summers off. Their schedule is year round. They are sometimes required to work long hours. Many curriculum developers travel to the schools a lot in order to meet with administrators and teachers.
In order to be qualified, you need to have a master’s degree in teaching, educational administration or curriculum and information. You may also need a teaching license and other certifications and licenses, depending on the state in which you work. Some private schools and adult remedial programs do not require a teaching license for curriculum developers. If you are working with middle school or secondary schools, you need to be specialized in a subject such as geography, math or English. You may also be required to take continuing education courses throughout your employment. Some schools require curriculum specialists to have a Ph.D. or a degree in medicine or law, but most only require a master’s degree.
The BLS reported that some curriculum specialists find their work stressful because they feel pressure from administrators to maintain the curriculum and help teachers use current teaching methods. In such a position, you need to be able to keep up with the changing standards and with improvements in technology.
Instructing teachers can be a large part of your job. Sometimes this instruction is in after-school meetings. Other times, you might teach the teacher’s class and allow them to observe new teaching methods. You must feel comfortable teaching both students and teachers. Part of your instruction for teachers will be in the form of mentoring.
As stated above, working in this position can require you to travel to the schools for meetings and trainings. O*NET OnLine reports that the amount of time required travel time will most likely be minimal for this position.
Basic Skills Required:
The two main facets of curriculum developers’ duties are developing and preparing curricula and assisting teachers in sharing that information effectively. In doing this, you need to have a variety of skills. With every job come many opportunities to strengthen skills that you may already possess. As you consider career choices, think about what skills and talents you have and what you can do to cultivate other abilities.
You will need to have an ability to communicate clearly and tactfully with others. A large part of the work involves interpersonal communication. Much of the work involves working in teams to collaborate on ideas, evaluate current practices and teach people. You also need to be able to take criticism tactfully and deliver constructive criticism where appropriate.
Another intangible skill you need is creativity, which can help you in curriculum design, training information, questionnaires and other instructional material. Creativity is also important in thinking of new teaching methods, ways to measure the effectiveness of teaching styles and in teaching students and training teachers.
Analytical skills are also an important characteristic of a curriculum developer. You need to be able to read the education standards and interpret their meaning to determine whether the curriculum meets the guidelines. You also need to determine whether the curriculum is age appropriate according to students’ reading and comprehension levels.
Writing skills are an important asset in curriculum development. Students and teachers will depend on the information you provide them with for their learning and teaching experience. You might also write grant proposals and other technical articles. Along with the ability to write, you need to be able to cater that information to the audience you are writing for. You will need to be organized and concise in your wording.
It also helps to understand technology and keep up on advances that can benefit the classrooms. As equipment gets older, you can authorize repairs, replacements and upgrades. If there is advancement in the technology for your, it is your responsibility to investigate whether that technology should be incorporated into the curriculum. Many positions will require you to know Microsoft Office and Adobe software. You also need to understand how to use the internet.
Many positions will require teaching experience. This can be a helpful skill because it can give you more credibility when working with teachers to improve their teaching abilities. It can also give you a better perspective on why the teacher does certain things. Administrative experience can help you to understand the goals and overall workings of the school.
A curriculum developer assists teachers by training them in the newest techniques and teaching methods. They review and revise curricula to stay current with new technology and state and federal guidelines. Their curriculum development responsibilities require them to travel to different schools to observe teachers and to give trainings. Their schedules follow normal year-round working hours. Since they work directly with teachers, it is helpful if they are good interpersonal communicators and if they have a teaching background.
A Day in the Life of a Curriculum Developer
Mike is a curriculum developer. His education career began in teaching middle school. He got his bachelor’s degree in teaching and had a lot of fun at it. However, he decided after quite a few years of doing so that he wanted do something else. He enjoyed writing and had written articles for an education magazine during the summer. As he considered the options he had for his career, he decided he wanted to work on school curriculum, writing lesson plans.
In the morning, he walks into his office, turns on the light and sits down at his desk. The stack of papers and notes on his desk are from yesterday’s work. While his computer is booting up, he starts going over his notes.
He was working on an activity for a spelling lesson before he left last night. After brainstorming several ideas, he decided he would create a crossword puzzle to help students learn the vocabulary. He started by listing the words in one column and the definitions for the words in a second column. Mike looked at several given definitions for the words he was defining. As he’d write the sentences, he’d run them through a program to check their reading level. They needed to be second grade reading level, which meant the sentence needed to be simple and concise. He also had to simplify any words that had too many syllables because second graders are just learning how to sound out one or two-syllable words.
Once he had figured out the definitions, he entered the names into a crossword puzzle making program. He then took the crossword puzzle image and put it into the page layout for the book. He made a couple more design changes but didn’t worry too much about that because the graphic design team would make changes on it as well.
Mike looked at his schedule to see how he was doing time wise. He still had three more activities to complete for the part of the workbook he was responsible for developing. The deadline for the book to go to the printers wasn't until the end of the month so he was okay.
They had started, he and his of team of curriculum specialist, by planning the content in the book. Together, they planned what words the book needed to cover and they looked over the new state guidelines to see what had changed. The curriculum developers looked through old textbooks and made curriculum development plans, what things needed to change and what still met the state and federal standards. At this meeting, they also discussed the changes the teachers wanted to make to the book.
Last week, Mike traveled to several schools, talking to second grade teachers in the state to see what they liked about the book and what could be beneficial in the next edition. He’d thought about the suggestions the teachers made and was prepared at this meeting with his team to discuss ways they could alter the curriculum to better meet the teacher’s needs.
The group looked at the overall content. They next went chapter by chapter, planning the exercises and activities. As they came up with their plan, they divided it up amongst them who would work on what part.
Once the pages were written, they would go to the editing team who would check facts, grammar, punctuation, spelling and for any other general errors. The editing team also has a copy of the state and federal standards and would determine whether the curricula they were creating meets these guidelines.
As a curriculum developer, Mike is also on the textbook team for seventh grade social studies. He’s been reading a book on the topic, highlighting important events and details he wants to study up on more. A professor at one of the state universities that has done a lot of research on the topic has been working with Mike on the project. The professor has been writing a history summary on the event and will soon send it to Mike. When he receives it, Mike will consider how the information meets the state and federal standards. He will make plans on how to incorporate any standards that are missing.
Most times, the information Mike gets is too advanced for the grade level so he considers terms that need to be defined and concepts that need to be simplified. This process however, will not be as challenging as converting it to a second grade reading level. It’s surprisingly difficult to communicate historical events to younger children who are at a lower reading and comprehension level because the language needs to be so simple. Seventh graders have a better grasp on vocabulary and can handle words with multiple syllables. The sentences can be more complex and have more than one idea in them. Sentences and paragraphs can be a little longer and activities can be more involved.
The tasks that Mike performs can vary quite a bit. Some days, he travels to schools in the district to meet with teachers and administrators. Other days, he observes classrooms and assists new teachers. Overall, Mike enjoys all of the things he learns as he studies the subjects he writes about. Working as a curriculum developer gives Mike the opportunity to use his teaching skills and creativity on a daily basis and he loves it.