What’s the Best Degree Path for Becoming an Instructional Coordinator?

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Education is consistently one of the most popular majors for college students, but not everyone wants to teach in the classroom. If you want to make an impact through curriculum and instruction without being a classroom teacher, a career as an instructional coordinator can be ideal. Instructional coordinators work behind the scenes, developing curriculum and increasing the effectiveness of teaching methods. These professionals may focus on:

  • grade level
  • subject matter
  • technology

With an instructional coordinator degree, you can earn good money. In fact, instructional coordinator is one of the top 10 highest-paying careers in education. Seasoned professionals earn a salary of $75,000 per year. Instructional coordinators go by several different titles:

  • Curriculum specialists
  • Director of instructional materials
  • Personal development specialists

No matter the title, these professionals do a lot of the same work. Below, you will find information on instructional coordinator degree options, job outlook, and more.

Undergraduate Instructional Coordinator Degree Options

The first step in becoming an instructional coordinator is earning a bachelor’s degree. The most common undergraduate degree is elementary education, especially for those seeking coordinator positions in a K-12 system. Instructional coordinators at the middle- and high-school levels often double-major in education and another subject.

Some students choose to start out at a community college and earn an associate’s degree for instructional coordinators designed for those who wish to major in elementary or secondary education. These degrees ensure that you complete lower-division general education courses. There will be some required courses that prepare you for a seamless transfer into a bachelor’s degree. Many community colleges offer online associate degrees. They may be more cost-effective than larger colleges. Earning a degree to become an instructional coordinator is the first step to a long-term career.

Some aspiring instructional coordinators attend a four-year institution. Those seeking to work with middle- and high-school students often earn bachelor’s degrees in common school-related subjects like:

  • biology
  • English
  • history
  • mathematics

In some settings, instructional coordinators are required to earn a teaching or administration license. These licensing requirements include additional coursework and testing. Individuals should check with each state’s board of education for specific requirements.

Beyond the Bachelor’s Degree for Instructional Coordinators

A bachelor’s degree is just the first step in the process of becoming an instructional coordinator. The vast majority of positions require a master’s degree in education or in instructional design. In addition, some states and districts require a teaching certificate or some other formal certification to go along with the master’s degree. Instructional design coursework focuses on creating a curriculum based on best practices of design. It merges:

  • aesthetics
  • pedagogy
  • theory

Coordinators learn how to collect data and perform evaluations to help them make decisions when designing content for students. Other topics include:

  • assessment
  • evaluation
  • technology

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Having the correct educational credentials is critical to the job.  However, you should be aware that some instructional coordinator positions require relevant work experience, as well. Many instructional coordinators start off working in the classroom as teachers of specific grade levels or academic disciplines such as:

  • biology
  • math
  • English

Many teachers suffering from classroom burnout  still want to work in education. The chance to develop a curriculum is an excellent option. It allows them to continue on a similar career trajectory that may be better suited to their needs and desires.

A number of instructional coordinators have administrative experience working as a principal or vice-principal. Some instructional coordinator positions are at the management level and are well suited for those with experience in this area. An instructional coordinator at the administrative level may manage other curriculum designers. He or she may be charged with developing a curriculum for entire schools or districts.

The career path takes:

  • hard work
  • dedication
  • time

The rewards are often worth it. Instructional coordinators engage in meaningful work, and they are paid a salary commensurate with their knowledge and dedication.

Characteristics of Effective Instructional Coordinators

In addition to job-specific skills, effective instructional coordinators possess a range of personal attributes and characteristics that make them effective on the job.

  • Computer Literacy – Very important is strong computer literacy in areas such as:
    • data analysis software
    • presentation software
    • educational technology

As instruction continues to utilize various technology platforms for teaching and assessment, instructional coordinators must possess advanced skills in this area.

  • Data Analysis – Analytical skills are a must for instructional coordinators. Much of their time is spent analyzing and interpreting data. This   is used to inform their recommendations on things like coursework, textbooks, and teaching methods. A strong background in data analysis and statistics is essential.
  • Group Communication – Instructional coordinators often lead training for teachers and report findings to school administrators and board members. It is critical that they possess excellent presentation skills in order to convey critical information in a group setting.
  • Interpersonal Communication – Being able to communicate in pairs or small groups is crucial to the success of any instructional coordinator. They work closely with teachers and administrators and must be able to effectively build relationships with teachers, school administrators, and other stakeholders.
  • Leadership – Many instructional coordinators serve as trainers and mentors to teachers. Leadership and decision-making abilities are critical in this capacity.

A Day in the Life of an Instructional Coordinator

A typical day for an instructional coordinator begins around eight in the morning. For those working in elementary schools, the day often starts earlier. There are teacher observations during instructional periods where the coordinator evaluates new and current teachers on pedagogical practices. From the observations, the coordinator will draft a report outlining the strength and areas of opportunity for the teacher. They will work with other school leaders in helping the teacher to succeed. After the report is created, the coordinator will often work closely with the teacher by serving as a mentor and trusted partner.

Another daily task is researching, evaluating, and preparing what curriculum schools should use. They also identify the specific teaching methods that work best. This task takes place in stages. The instructional coordinator must be familiar with school- and district-wide test scores, as well as district-level teaching and learning goals and areas of emphasis.

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When preparing to make changes to the curriculum, instructional coordinators vet materials like:

  • textbooks
  • technology platforms
  • comprehensive learning materials

While these are not daily tasks, instructional coordinators participate in:

  • workshops
  • committees
  • conferences

These keep them abreast of current trends in education. These workshops include topics such as:

  • assessment
  • educational research
  • pedagogical practices
  • technology

Other weekly or monthly tasks include interpreting and enforcing state and district educational codes and regulations. These are passed down from state education boards and superintendents. The coordinator works closely with building-level administrators during this process to ensure regulations are being followed.

Professional development is often required for instructional coordinators. This often includes attending and completing formal training. The training  helps them learn new skills and keep up with the changing landscape of education.

Instructional coordinators attend weekly staff meetings with colleagues. They are often present at events like school fairs and performances that take place outside of normal school hours. They also attend certain school-board and district-level meetings to learn and share critical information.

As you can see, instructional coordinators do important work that influences every student and staff member. The work is fulfilling and challenging. Aspiring instructional coordinators can expect a regular schedule with a consistent level of routine. The higher pay is indicative of the level of work being done, as well as the time spent per week, which often goes beyond the traditional 40 hours.

Job Outlook for Instructional Coordinators

According to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of instructional coordinators is expected to increase by 10 percent from 2020 through 2030. The 10 percent growth over this period matches or exceeds the average rate of growth for all occupations combined.  About 20,400 job openings are projected each year for a 10-year total of 204,000.

Much of the demand is expected to be caused by individuals exiting the occupation for other fields or retiring. Nearly 50 percent of instructional coordinators are employed by public and private elementary and secondary schools. Districts that are more assessment-focused may turn to instructional coordinators to develop curriculum and teaching methods. This creates more job opportunities. Funding, particularly at the public-school level, plays a major role in personnel decisions. Schools that are apportioned more money, or are in stronger financial positions, may have the ability to hire instructional coordinators.

In addition to elementary and secondary institutions, about 20 percent of instructional coordinators work in public and private post-secondary colleges and universities. The remaining instructional coordinators typically work in state and local governments. Those positions are also reliant on government funding.

The states employing the highest number of instructional coordinators are:

  • New York
  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Illinois

When drilling down into the local level, the following metropolitan areas have the highest employment numbers:

  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC, VA, MD, WV

As with most occupations, the highest number of openings are concentrated in city centers and metropolitan areas. Individuals who are living in or willing to relocate to more populated areas should expect increased job opportunities.

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Pay for Instructional Coordinators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for this occupation is $66,970 per year. The median annual wage represents the wage that half of all instructional coordinators earned more than and the other half earned less than. Also, the lowest 10 percent earned $39,270. The highest 10 percent earned approximately $106,000.

When broken down into industries,  instructional coordinators working in government settings earn the highest wages, on average.

  • Government: $76,780
  • Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private: $70,270
  • Educational support services; state, local, and private: $67,240
  • Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private: $62,950

While the majority of jobs are located in densely populated metropolitan areas, some job opportunities exist in smaller, non-metropolitan locales. The highest-paying non-metro areas include:

  • Northeast Louisiana non-metropolitan area: $56,680
  • Central Louisiana non-metropolitan area: $49,700
  • North Coast region of California non-metropolitan area: $78,260
  • Northern Vermont non-metropolitan area: $58,500

Though the pay is often lower in non-metro areas, you should take into consideration the lower cost of living in these places, especially when it comes to housing. In addition, not everyone wants to live in city conditions. Many people prefer living in a more rural setting with a slower pace of life.

What Instructional Coordinators Do

The main charge for instructional coordinators is evaluating the effectiveness of coursework and curriculum, along with the teaching techniques used for instruction. The occupation takes a very active leadership role through observing teachers engaging in instruction. It also involves evaluating large swaths of data such as test scores and learning outcomes. Based on their observations and research, instructional coordinators make curriculum and teaching recommendations to school administrators and school-board members.

Some instructional coordinators develop and lead training sessions and workshops related to pedagogy. These workshops may center on a new or revised curriculum, or on specific teaching techniques. With the increasing use of educational technology, more instructional coordinators conduct training on the use of software and hardware.

The Work Environment of an Instructional Coordinator

Most instructional coordinators (63 percent) work in school settings, ranging from elementary to postsecondary schools. Elementary and secondary schools employ the largest percentage (44 percent). Those working in elementary school settings work hours ranging from seven a.m. to four p.m., 12 months a year. Those working in post-secondary institutions work eight a.m. to five p.m. year-round. Individuals working for non-school government agencies work year-round with hours ranging from eight to five, as well.

Instructional coordinators working in school settings are generally located at the specific institution they develop curriculum for. They usually have their own office located in the administrative section of the building. Some instructional coordinators work at school district offices. Government employees work in a typical office setting.

BDP Staff
December 2021

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