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What Does a Curriculum Specialist Do?

Good teachers know that succeeding in the classroom takes preparation, time, and energy. Sustained effort over many years can drain long-term educators, motivating some to seek out careers in administration. The school setting provides them with the connection to education that they find fulfilling. Another role that gives teachers the chance to use their skills outside the classroom is that of curriculum specialist.

A look at the career path of an educator who went from classroom teacher to curriculum specialist sheds light on what curriculum specialists do. After nine years of classroom teaching, Glenn Wiebe was ready for a change. He earned an M.A. in American History but wanted to continue his career as an educator. His desire to facilitate effective teaching while having limited classroom time prompted him to become a curriculum specialist. Knowing that every child has a unique learning style helped him create material that middle school students find engaging. His school has been using these approaches to transform classrooms into more dynamic and effective learning environments.

Wiebe is one of many teachers who leave the classroom to pursue work as curriculum specialists.

What Is a Curriculum Specialist?

Curriculum specialists provide support to teachers by helping create and revise materials used in the classroom. They analyze student data to assess and improve the school’s implementation and evaluation of classroom material. Their job typically involves research and requires them to find appropriate textbooks and curricula in order to improve the learning outcomes of the school’s student body.

Educators with classroom experience find themselves well-suited for this role. Curriculum specialists apply primary research to developing appropriate teaching materials for students. Their knowledge and experience in classroom settings provides them with insight on the kinds of curricula, activities, and assignments most likely to raise the standards of learning while inspiring children to learn through new textbooks, helpful technologies, and unique teaching methods.

Job Outlook and Salary for Curriculum Specialists

Another name for the curriculum specialist role is instructional coordinator. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the 2018 salary of instructional coordinators as almost $65,000 per year. At 11%, the job growth rate for this role is higher than average. BLS data places the average yearly salary in Kansas at $57,320. Most curriculum specialist openings require applicants to hold a Master of Science or Education degree and have analytical, communication, decision-making, interpersonal, and leadership skills.

Emporia State University offers a Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction program available completely online. Educators seeking a new career that leverages their classroom experience while continuing to impact the student body can enroll in this program and choose their own pace. The online program can be completed in as few as 12 months.

Learn more about Emporia State University’s Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction (C&I) – Effective Practitioner PreK-12 online program.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Instructional Coordinators

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Instructional Coordinators – Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2018

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