Become a Curriculum Designer: Career Guide

Learn how to become a curriculum designer. Research the job description and education requirements and find out how to start a career in curriculum design.

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Do I Want to Be a Curriculum Designer?

Curriculum designers, or instructional coordinators, develop educational programs and instructional materials for schools, organizations and companies. They can also assist the teachers, principals or other customers in the implementation of the curriculum and assess how well it is working after a period of use. Curriculum designers often work year round, as opposed to teachers who may work only during the school year.

Job Requirements

Positions in curriculum design often require a mix of experience and specialized education. Teaching is often a jumping-off point for prospective curriculum designers, so many people will want to begin their careers with bachelor's degrees or master's degrees and teaching experience. However, teaching experience may be most relevant for individuals wanting to work in K-12 education. Positions at private companies that provide curriculum materials for specialized areas may value extensive subject matter knowledge, technology skills and technical writing skills more than teaching experience. The following table represents common requirements for curriculum designers.

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's degree may be preferred*
Degree Field Education, instruction and curriculum design*
Licensure and Certification A teaching or education administrator license may be necessary, requirements for licensure vary by state*
Experience 3-5 years in education management or teaching with some experience developing curriculum materials**
Key Skills Instructional skills, ability to work collaboratively, knowledge of subject area, organizational and project management skills**
Computer Skills Familiarity with web design, online learning management systems; many positions require the ability to create online curricula**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Job postings from July 2012.

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

Curriculum designer positions require at least a bachelor's degree. The most relevant degrees are in education, instructional design or instructional technology. Bachelor's programs in education often include courses in teaching and psychology, whereas instructional design or technology programs offer courses in curriculum design, Web design and multimedia technology.

Success Tip

  • Find opportunities to develop technical design skills. Online curricula and computer-based learning tools are becoming increasingly common at all levels of education. Aspiring curriculum designers may want to incorporate technology into their teaching as early as possible in order to develop expertise.

Step 2: Obtain a Teaching Credential or Education Administrator License

For those who plan to work in the public school system, a teaching credential or education administrator license is a requirement. The State Board of Education or equivalent state licensure committee determines teaching credential requirements, which may include a bachelor's degree, basic skills test, completion of a training program and supervised practice teaching experience. For candidates whose bachelor's degrees are not in education, there are alternative licensing programs that circumvent the need for certain education courses.

Education administrator licensing is also regulated by the state. Most states require candidates to have completed some amount of graduate training and some may also require the passing of a test.

Step 3: Gain Relevant Work Experience

The curriculum designer position is not an entry-level one and may require 2-5 years of relevant experience. This experience may come from teaching, designing training materials and/or developing curricula. Many prospective curriculum designers begin as a teacher in an area of particular interest and gain work experience that way.

Step 4: Earn a Master's Degree

Certain employers, particularly public school systems, may expect curriculum designers to also possess a master's degree in an education-related field. Master's degree programs in instructional design or technology typically expound upon ground covered in undergraduate studies, but they also cover additional topics such as distance learning, evaluation techniques and instructional material development.

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