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How to Start a Career in Curriculum Development?

It is not uncommon for educational professionals to start their careers only to discover they have a passion for using their skills beyond classroom walls. With 57,305 employed curriculum professionals in the U.S. and many opportunities for independent work, curriculum development presents a great alternative for educators who want to build their careers outside the classroom.

Graduates of the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction online program are ready for a career in curriculum development with the necessary knowledge and skills. Courses like Research-Based Instruction equip students with the methods, content, materials and research knowledge for instruction and teaching strategies.

Below is a comprehensive guide on how to begin your career in curriculum development, with essential considerations, job opportunities and academic paths to consider.

What Is Curriculum Development?

As Indeed notes, curriculum development refers to systematically creating educational materials and instructional strategies to facilitate effective learning. Curriculum professionals have a number of responsibilities such as reviewing and improving course content, assessing curricula, observing teachers’ skills, reviewing the use of technology tools, analyzing student test results, conducting research or teaching school faculty how to use certain tools.

Before exploring the steps you should take to start your career in curriculum development, familiarize yourself with the roles and responsibilities of curriculum professionals. You can ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you passionate about building learning experiences?
  • Do you have strong analytical skills?
  • Are you comfortable collaborating with subject matter experts?
  • Do you enjoy creating educational content?

For those with classroom teaching experience wanting to expand their careers into curriculum development, a Devlin Peck article emphasizes that this transition is both popular and worthwhile. Peck notes that “many of the skills a teacher uses every day can transfer over to an instructional design role.”

While not exactly the same, the role of instructional designer is very similar to that of curriculum development positions at large. Indeed notes that curriculum developers, in general, need a master’s degree, classroom experience and teaching certification.

What Skills Do Curriculum Developers Need?

Experience and degrees only take you so far in the curriculum development space. Professionals in this area must have the necessary skills to succeed in curriculum design and development. According to Indeed, the skills that make good curriculum developers include:

  • Analytics
  • Creativity
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication and writing
  • Compassion
  • Technology and educational software
  • Project management and organization

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all path to becoming a curriculum developer, certain qualifications and experiences can bolster your credentials. ULM’s online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction program prepares graduates with knowledge and skills in the above areas. It also prepares students in Louisiana to add on a Teacher Leader endorsement and select electives that meet state requirements and add-on certifications.

Build Your Curriculum Development Career in 5 Steps

Those who know curriculum development and the necessary qualifications for the space may want another resource: actionable steps. The following are straightforward steps to help you construct a path toward success.

  1. Seek Mentorship from Experienced Curriculum Developers

As Indeed notes, connect with experienced professionals in curriculum development and seek mentorship opportunities to gain insights and guidance from their expertise.

  1. Specialize in High-Demand Areas

Identify high-demand areas within curriculum development — such as STEM education, project-based learning or digital literacy — and focus your professional development efforts accordingly. ULM’s program allows students to specialize by adding on certifications in the following areas: reading, English as a Second Language (ESL), early intervention, educational diagnostics, mild/moderate disabilities, academically gifted and early childhood.

  1. Build Your Portfolio

Build a portfolio of curriculum development projects highlighting your skills, creativity and impact. Because curriculum developers need writing skills, this is a great way for you to showcase your writing abilities.

  1. Experiment and Test

Mandy, a transitioning teacher turned curriculum developer, shares helpful advice to aspiring curriculum development professionals: “If you’re still teaching, don’t be afraid to start experimenting with curriculum design. Try it out. It’s a crucial step in gaining confidence and experience.”

  1. Pursue Advanced Education

Lastly, opting for an advanced education in curriculum and instruction is a good way to deepen your knowledge and expertise in the field while also getting a diploma to help you build credibility. ULM’s program does just this.

Can a Master of Education Help You Become a Curriculum Developer?

Choosing a comprehensive master’s program can make the transitioning process easier by providing not only a structured education on the main skills you need but also building credibility for future employers.

The University of Louisiana Monroe’s online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction program is a valuable opportunity for educators aiming to advance in curriculum development. The online format allows students to engage with course materials at their own pace, collaborating with peers and instructors in virtual learning environments.

Learn more about ULM’s online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction program.

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