Curriculum specialists assist department heads in developing curricula. They are also called instructional coordinators or instructional specialists. Their role is to visit classrooms, talk to students, teachers, and administrators, review course materials, and make recommendations to improve student learning.
Working as a curriculum and instruction specialist, one needs to have a master’s degree in the field. The position requires staying current on the latest pedagogical theory and practical instruction implementations, so they must also possess experience in designing curricula as faculty members.
Curriculum specialists can work in a variety of settings
If you have all the primary qualifications (degree, experience, license), you are eligible to work in an educational setting of your choice. The most common workplaces for curriculum specialists are education support services, state and local governments, higher education, and colleges.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Become a Curriculum and Instruction Specialist
To take on the role professionally, a curriculum and instruction specialist requires a license, mandatory in many states. The first step in obtaining a license is to enroll in a bachelor’s program, sit for the state’s exams, and undergo a background check like ordinary teachers.
Many professionals begin their careers as teachers, where they gain most of their experience before moving on to administrative roles. A master’s degree from a reputable institute can significantly aid in moving up the career ladder. A curriculum and instruction master’s degree coursework includes teacher leadership, research methods, and curriculum planning. For more information on the master’s program, visit here.
If you are not already certified to teach in your state, you should probably select a program that that state’s education board has approved. To put it simply, the procedure for becoming a curriculum specialist is the same as for ordinary teachers.
Here is the step-by-step process.
1. Earn your primary degree
Start your career by earning a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field from a state-approved program. For instance, the degree could be in early childhood education, educational psychology, leadership and management, or more. Almost any of these academic majors will get you into a master’s program. Most bachelor’s programs last four years.
2. Get Classroom Experience
Since curriculum specialists evaluate teacher performance using observation and data analysis, employers require extensive teaching experience. Additionally, teachers are likely to be more open to constructive criticism from someone with classroom experience than someone whose understanding of the subject is purely theoretical.
Some districts divide their curriculum specialists by grade level or subject, so they must be familiar with the grades or subjects they oversee. Larger communities are more likely to have such divisions.
Having classroom experience also allows a potential curriculum developer to understand the adjustments necessary to ensure students learn what is in the curriculum. In general, curriculum specialists are well-versed in educational resources, technological advances, and teaching methods, making new curricula more efficient.
3. Prepare for a State Certification and License
In public schools, curriculum and instruction specialists, especially those who work in classrooms, may be required to hold a teaching license or a school administrator license. The requirements for licensure vary from state to state, but most states call for a degree in education. Some states accept degrees only from accredited programs, and others require supervised practice through a student teaching program.
Some districts or regions may require additional certifications or licenses in addition to the degree as a part of the renewal process—for instance, an administrative license or a certification in the field in which one wishes to specialize. Most often, individuals must pass an examination that tests their general teaching skills and subject expertise based on their subject area. These courses cover curriculum development, theory, and writing. If you are not already certified to teach in your state, you should probably select a program that that state’s education board has approved.
Depending on your certification, you may be able to instruct students in any grade level, from high school to elementary school to preschool.
3. Go for Higher Education
Specialists in curriculum and instruction often hold master’s degrees. The advanced training provided by a master’s program enables them to design curriculum materials that meet the standards set by the state.
A master’s program teaches various curriculum models, instructional methods, and learning theories, which individuals can apply to design curricula for school districts. These skills acquired by graduate students studying curriculum and instruction are used to evaluate test scores and other indicators of student learning. Naturally, most employers prefer a master’s degree when hiring a curriculum specialist. However, a bachelor’s degree holder also has the potential to become a curriculum specialist if they have sufficient experience and skills.
People seeking to advance their education flexibly can also find online degree programs, specifically for masters in curriculum and instruction.
4. Start the job hunt
Look for a job opportunity for a curriculum developer by doing job research. You can create a custom resume for a specific job role once you have found a job opportunity that supports your career goals. Don’t forget to include your contact information on your resume, so the employer can get in touch with you for more information or schedule an interview. If an employer asks for recommendations, you should also send a cover letter, writing samples, and a resume.
What jobs are available for a Curriculum and Instruction degree holder?
You can gain stable, rewarding jobs with a master’s degree in curriculum development and instruction, such as:
- Instructor Specialist
- Curriculum Specialist
- Curriculum developer
- Project Coordinator of curriculum
- Teaching mentor
- Curriculum and Instruction Director
- Manager in training and development
The role and responsibilities of these jobs may differ depending on the industry. Still, the goal is the same: to facilitate learning that helps students achieve academic success.
Candidates for a curriculum and instruction degree must be passionate about shaping the curriculum and possess the ability and knowledge to make decisions. Because of the specialized nature of the role, one has to go through a vigorous procedure.
After earning a bachelor’s degree, they must earn certification and a state license before taking on administrative roles in the specialized area. So most of these graduates start working as teachers to gain classroom experience. It is also safe to say most curriculum and instruction master’s level students are certified teachers seeking licensure.
Curriculum and instruction majors study teaching methods, research methods, and curriculum design, which they apply to their roles once acquiring the position. Teaching theory and design are also important concepts for curriculum and instruction specialists. If one possesses advanced communication and organizational skills, one will be more successful in this career.