How Do I Become a K-12 Course Developer?

Explore the career requirements for K-12 course developers. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Elementary Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a K-12 Course Developer?

A K-12 course developer, also known as an instructional coordinator, is responsible for determining the curriculum that teachers will follow and the materials that will be used in all subjects at all grade levels from kindergarten through grade twelve. They may demonstrate different instructional techniques to help teachers improve their teaching skills, and they also determine the curriculum's effectiveness. K-12 course developers may opt to specialize in a specific subject area or age group that they develop curricula for. They need good analytical skills to assess materials, strong decision-making skills to finalize curriculum guidelines and strong leadership skills to direct teachers in the use of the curriculum.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Curriculum development
Licensure Licensed by state, sometimes with a school administrator license or endorsement
Key Responsibilities Create and edit curricula, write and edit lesson plans, develop education tools and incorporate advancing classroom technologies
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7% (for instructional coordinators)*
Median Salary (2015) $62,270 (for instructional coordinators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a K-12 Course Developer Do?

As a K-12 course developer, you're involved in creating curricula that adheres to goals and standards set by a school or district and also complies with state and federal regulations. You write lesson plans and develop educational tools, such as flash cards, interactive websites or learning activities. You could also implement new technologies in the classroom, monitor the quality of materials used and create new teaching strategies.

You're part of a team in this position, working with editors and other development staff to produce manuals, learning tools and lesson plans. You could also train teachers on how to use your product. You'll regularly meet with staff and education administrators to decide on content. A typical day could involve many activities, such as writing course materials, researching educational technology, reviewing ideas and designing a website.

What Training Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers generally prefer that you have experience as a teacher and knowledge of the publishing industry ( The BLS further stated that if you work in a public school, you'll need to earn at least a master's degree. You can find several schools that offer master's, specialist and doctoral programs in educational development that cover topics in curriculum development, education, publishing and writing.

Will I Need to Be Licensed?

If you work in a public school, you'll need to obtain a state license. You might need a teaching or instructional coordinator license, though some states could require that you earn a school administrator license or endorsement. Academic standards vary, though a master's degree is usually acceptable. You might need to have some teaching, development or leadership experience to be eligible for licensure. Like teaching and school administration licenses, you'll usually need to complete some continuing education courses to keep your license valid.

Would I Work For a School?

You could work for a particular school or school district. However, several private companies also exist that specialize in developing curricula for elementary, middle and high schools. You might work as a regular employee or contractor. If you have experience writing course material for multiple grades or subjects, your skills could be in higher demand.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The work performed by special education teachers and high school administrators is similar to that of K-12 course developers. These education professionals need a bachelor's or master's degree and a teaching license. Special education teachers may have to modify curriculum to adapt to the needs of their students based on their individual learning plans. Like K-12 course developers, they need to be able to understand the program objectives and find strategies and materials to effectively teach the skills or concepts that the curriculum intends. High school administrators must assess the effectiveness of their teachers and may arrange for K-12 course developers to train or assist teachers with implementing the designed curriculum. Like K-12 course developers, school administrators work with teachers to ensure the classroom instruction meets the school's standards and follows the approved curriculum.

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