What Does a Curriculum Specialist Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills & More
Curriculum specialists support school teachers by developing and improving the instructional materials for courses. They may also give constructive feedback on how teachers are implementing those materials and how effective the materials are. Most curriculum specialists work in elementary and secondary schools, colleges, professional schools, educational support services, or for state and local governments. Sometimes curriculum specialists are called instructional coordinators or instructional specialists.
Curriculum Specialist Duties & Responsibilities
In general, this position requires the ability to do the following work:
- Participate in or facilitate curriculum review committees
- Select textbooks and other instructional materials for districtwide implementation
- Set expectations for which parts of the curriculum must be covered within the school year
- Stay informed of trends in instructional methods and educational technology
- Assist teachers in incorporating new technology into their lessons
- Provide feedback to teachers based on individual observation and student performance data
- Use data to monitor district performance in meeting externally imposed standards
- Write grant proposals related to curriculum and instructional matters
Curriculum Specialist Salary
A curriculum specialist's salary can vary depending on location, experience, and whether they're working for a public or private institution.
- Median Annual Salary: $63,750
- Top 10% Annual Salary: $101,500
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $33,550
Unlike teachers, curriculum specialists usually work year-round and don't have summer breaks.
Education Requirements & Qualifications
- Degrees: Most employers require curriculum specialists to have a master's degree, preferably in education or curriculum and instruction. Candidates need a bachelor's degree to enter such a master's degree program. Some employers only require a bachelor’s degree to be a curriculum specialist.
- Certificates: Employers almost always require a teaching certificate issued by the state government. Some schools require a state-issued education administrator certificate as well.
- Experience: Employers often require curriculum specialists to have significant teaching experience because part of the job requires evaluating teacher performance using observation and data analysis. In addition, teachers may be more open to constructive criticism from someone who has years of experience in the classroom than someone with a predominantly theoretical understanding of the profession. A district may divide their curriculum specialist positions by grade level or subject, so the district may require curriculum specialists to have experience in the grade levels or subjects they cover. Such divisions are more prevalent in large districts than in small ones.
Curriculum Specialist Skills & Competencies
In order to competently perform their job duties, it's important for a curriculum specialist to have the following skills:
- Leadership: Curriculum specialists must be able to give guidance to and mentor the teachers that they work with.
- Communication: People in this position must be able to clearly explain any changes in curriculum or instruction to teachers, principals, and school staff.
- Decision-making: Curriculum specialists must be able to confidently make decisions on instructional methods and curriculum materials.
- Analytical: Curriculum specialists must be able to evaluate student performance data, teaching strategies, and curriculum materials, and then make recommendations based on their analysis.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for curriculum specialists will likely grow faster than the average for all occupations, at a rate of 11% from 2016–2026. Since many people in this position are employed by state and local governments, the growth of this job will also depend on state and local government budgets.
Most curriculum specialists work in an office setting. However, they may spend a significant amount of their work time traveling to schools within their district or system to monitor instruction or conduct training.
Curriculum specialists generally work full-time Monday through Friday, year-round (unlike teachers, who usually get summer breaks). Usually, the daily schedule for this job aligns with the general operating hours of the employer. They may also meet with educators outside of classroom hours.
Comparing Similar Jobs
People who are interested in becoming curriculum specialists may also consider some other related positions. Here are some of those related jobs, along with their median annual salaries:
- Training and Development Specialist: $60,360
- Training and Development Manager: $108,250
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017