How to Decide if Curriculum Designer Jobs are a Good Fit for You

For the past two episodes we have been digging into two of the most common fields of interest for teachers who are looking to leave the classroom, but want to stay in the field of education.  We started with educational consulting, and then we looked at instructional design.  

Today we’re going to spend some time discussing the last option in this vein and that is curriculum design. Curriculum designer jobs are very similar to instructional designer jobs and after last week’s episode, I want to make sure that I explain the differences between the two.

While many people use instructional design and curriculum design synonymously, there are some specific differences we are going to talk about as well as…

  • What curriculum design is and the roles of curriculum designers 
  • All the nitty gritty info about curriculum design like salary, requirements, and necessary skills
  • How to find jobs in curriculum design

What is curriculum design?

According to BetterTeam.com, curriculum designers “work with teachers, organizations, and clients to create and implement educational programs. They can work in schools, offices, universities and other organizations, and may require specialized subject knowledge and skills. They also create appropriate learning materials.”

PracticalAdultInsights.com states, “A curriculum designer is a person who is involved in the process of creating and designing learning materials for various areas of education. At times curriculum designers improve upon materials and curricula that are already being used in classrooms. Designers usually specialize in one area of education, such as elementary, intermediate, high school, college, adult, online learning, or even homeschool curriculum.”

So in a nutshell, a curriculum designer creates, modifies and updates educational materials and curriculum for learners. And after hearing the definition, you may be starting to see how similar curriculum design and instructional design are to one another.

What is the difference in curriculum design and instructional design?

According to Indeed.com, instructional design “comprises the design, development, and delivery of learning systems based on research of how students learn.”  Curriculum designers, on the other hand, “work with educational institutions to create lesson plans and curriculum.”

The biggest difference between the two can be summarized into one sentence.  Curriculum design is what the student is learning while instructional design is how the student is learning.

So think about it like a car.  

There are those people who dream up the look of a brand new vehicle.  They think about the shape, the colors, the interior layout, etc.  Then there are those who put together the frame of the car, insert the transmission, align the wheels, etc.

The visionaries who create the look of that brand new four door sedan are the curriculum designers.  They know what it needs to look like and how it should function. 

The individuals that put together the actual prototype are the instructional designers.  They know the inner workings of each cylinder and how to make the car more fuel efficient.

These individuals are all car designers, they just have different parts to design.

The same holds true for curriculum and instructional designers.

If you dream up a resource that helps students learn about multiplication with a Minecraft theme, you’ve taken on the role of a curriculum designer.  As you add varying levels of complexity and consider how you will introduce it, allow students to practice it, and assess their level of mastery, you’ve taken on the role of instructional designer.

While there are times when a curriculum designer will do the same job as an instructional designer and vice versa, typically, curriculum designers determine what skills students need to learn and what the “packaging” will look like while the instructional designers break down the learning process in order to get to how students are going to learn these new skills via a specific platform.

Therefore, when you determine which part of the learning process is of more interest to you, you can starting searching for either instructional designer jobs or curriculum designer jobs.

What do curriculum designers do?

The role of a curriculum designer then is to take the topics students need to learn (in a specific grade or at a certain level) and package them in thematic units or in a flow that makes sense.  

Some of the specific duties and responsibilities of curriculum designers include:

  • Researching standards to determine compliance
  • Developing engaging and thoughtful lesson plans and teacher content
  • Curating relevant supplemental resources
  • Measuring student progress, output, and feedback
  • Observing students and teachers in the classroom setting
  • Provide digital components and technological options to help students

What are the requirements for becoming a curriculum designer?

To land a job as a curriculum designer, you need…

  • Bachelor’s Degree (Master’s Degree is typically preferred)
  • 3-5 years experience in the classroom or in educational management
  • Strong research skills
  • Excellent communication skills

Depending on the specific job you are looking at, you might also need…

  • A degree or certificate in curriculum and instruction
  • Familiarity in instructional design

While curriculum designers are different from instructional designers, it is highly likely that you will work closely with instructional designers.  Therefore, having a working knowledge of that part of the process could prove to be very helpful!

What is the salary?

According to Glassdoor.com, the estimated base pay average for curriculum designers in the United States is $50,076 per year.  However, just as with a job as an educational consultant and instructional designer, there is potential for additional pay up to $30,868 based on bonuses, commissions, tips, and profit sharing.

But remember, if you choose to be an independent or freelance curriculum designer, you can charge any price you want.  Just be sure you consider your ideal client, cost of living prices for the location you are serving and competitor pricing.  Then based on the resulting information, determine appropriate rates.

What other jobs are related to curriculum design?

If you sell curriculum online (via Teachers Pay Teachers, your blog, or any other online platform), you can call yourself a curriculum designer.  But there are several jobs that are very similar to curriculum design that you might want to look into further including…

  • Curriculum Developer
  • Course Planner
  • Curriculum Design Editor
  • Curriculum Specialist
  • Learning Consultant
  • Instructional Designer
  • Instructional Planner

Where can I find curriculum designer jobs?

If you open Google and simply type in “jobs related to curriculum design,” you’ll be inundated with TONS of job postings.  Some of them will be in person positions while others will be remote positions.  This is the best place to start in order to discover what options are available to you.  

But just like we discussed with educational consulting and instructional design, you need to determine which route you want to pursue before you move forward with the job hunt.

1| Determine your route

You can choose to be hired by a company or you can choose to be an independent or freelance curriculum designer.  Either way, you need to evaluate the pros and cons before determining the best route for you.

If you would like to pursue curriculum design as an entrepreneur, opening a Teachers Pay Teachers shop would be a great way to get your feet wet.  I have an entire course designed to take you from knowing basically nothing to designing engaging curriculum and opening a customized TpT shop.

If you would like to begin pursuing curriculum designer jobs in an already established company, consider applying for a new service I’m offering called Resume Refresh

I will help you uplevel your current resume and tailor it to the new position you are seeking outside of the classroom. At the end of our sessions, you will walk away with a brand new resume.

Want a Free one-on-one
Discovery Call?

Understanding where you are currently and how to get to the next level is crucial if you plan to leave the classroom. Let me give you personalized insight into your next best steps!

2| Become certified

Experience is always a HUGE bonus, but if you don’t have much of that…certifications can be the game-changers.  So look into certification programs or even full college degree programs if that is the path you want to pursue.

Here are a few certification programs to get you started…

If you think curriculum designer jobs might be interesting, be sure to spend some time looking through all of the resources below.  There are so many valuable sites dedicated to this specific career path and I genuinely believe you will find this content useful.

Curriculum design resources: