Curriculum Design

(Curriculum/Instructional Coordinators, Specialists, Developers, Managers)

We appreciate the contributions to this resource from several Wellesley alumnae engaged in curriculum design. 

Career paths in curriculum design are wide-ranging, beginning with the variety of terms and job titles you will hear and levels of preparation required (a Bachelor’s degree is required, often a master’s is preferred--or depth of knowledge in the subject). There is often confusion within the occupation surrounding titles. Typically, the role involves development and evaluation of curricular and training materials.

Curriculum design focuses on the creation of the overall course blueprint, mapping content to learning objectives, including how to develop a course outline and build the course. Each learning objective is met with assessment strategies, exercises, content, subject matter analysis, and interactive activities.

Often, teachers may transition into curriculum development if they are seeking to continue working in education without directly teaching students. If you are seeking alternatives to classroom teaching, there are many choices, including curriculum design.

School-based Career Path

Within public schools, the role of curriculum (or instruction) specialist or coordinator is well-defined and most states require 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.

Skills & Responsibilities Required

All curriculum specialists must have a desire to enhance and improve the education system, and 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. 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.

Online curricula and computer-based learning tools are becoming increasingly common at all levels of education. Curriculum designers will likely need to have a decent level of comfort with and understanding of basic web design concepts. As today’s students rely heavily on online resources to keep current with their coursework, curriculum designers should be familiar with methods of both creating and maintaining web-based curriculum materials. Aspiring curriculum designers may want to incorporate technology into their teaching as early as possible in order to develop expertise. You may want to strengthen your background by taking some business classes as well as courses in instructional design.

Alternatives to School-Based Careers

With a Bachelor’s degree, entry-level opportunities may be open to you if you have expertise in a particular subject (languages, social-emotional learning, science, technical knowledge, etc…). A Training and Development Specialist or Manager may not require advanced degrees. Training and development specialists design and implement instructional programs for companies' employees. Training and development managers, who oversee them, plan, coordinate, and direct these programs. Their goal is to improve workers' skills and knowledge and, in turn, performance.  While the needs of an educational program in a corporate environment might be distinctly different than one in an elementary school, both need a mindfully designed curriculum in order to function properly. A curriculum designer’s job is to ensure that any educational program they work with has the most effective curriculum materials possible, according to WiseGeek.


Average Base Pay (depends on location)
$59,139/yr (low end = $49k; high end = $82k)

Salaries for Related Job Titles

Curriculum Specialist: $51K
Curriculum Developer: $62K
Education Manager: $67K
Educational Technology Specialist: $55K
Instructional Coordinator: $63K (Glassdoor reports $48,363)

Professional Organizations

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) – A professional organization that provides career development tools and networking for instructional coordinators and administrators.

American Association for Teaching & Curriculum (AATC) – The AATC promotes the scholarly study of teaching and curriculum and provides members with a scholarly journal, networking opportunities, and an annual conference.

Additional Resources

  • Search The Wellesley Hive for alumnae who work in curriculum or instructional design and do an informational interview
  • Connect with Career Education’s Civic Engagement Program, as they have some opportunities to get educational (and curriculum development) experience in nonprofits and after school programs.
  • Search Handshake for opportunities that can give you more experience in building educational content and curriculum coordination
  • The IDEALIST offers career advice and lists volunteer and paid opportunities (over 600 volunteer opportunities, 1100 jobs, and 36 internships involving key search word “curriculum” as of June 2018)

Wellesley Alumnae-recommended Sites