How to Become a Curriculum & Instructional Designor: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


A curriculum and instructional designer creates the materials and instructions that are used to teach students at schools, from elementary through to high school (and sometimes postsecondary institutions as well). Curriculum designers work with educators and school boards to determine what a curriculum must cover. They then design the curriculum and monitor classes to assess what students are learning.


Annual salaries for curriculum and instructional designers will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2013, the average annual salary for curriculum and instructional designers working in the U.S. was $63,070 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for curriculum and instructional designers, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in Curriculum and Instructional Designer

California has the greatest number of employment opportunities, as well as the highest wages, with 18,080 curriculum and instructional designers making an average salary of $72,560 annually. Texas is second in the nation, with 12,260 jobs, and offering an annual mean wage of $64,220.

The metro areas employing the most curriculum and instructional designers are:

  • New York-White Plains (5,190)
  • Washington D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria (4,350)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach (4,270)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of curriculum and instructional designers are:

  • Ann Arbor, MI (5.2 per 1,000 jobs)
  • Warner Robins, GA (3.68 per 1,000 jobs)

The metro areas employing the best-paid curriculum and instructional designers are:

  • Trenton-Ewing, NJ (average salary $89,770)
  • Kingston, NY (average salary $87,110)

Employment and Salary Information for Curriculum and Instructional Designers

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as a curriculum and instructional designer. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Why Become A Curriculum and Instructional Designer?

Every school student is taught from a curriculum prepared by a designer. Assembling a curriculum is a big responsibility, having an impact on many kids. If you’re up for the challenge, though, there are plenty of advantages to being a curriculum designer:

  • The industry is growing. Education is a growth industry, and employment of designers is expected to grow 13% from 2012 through to 2022.
  • Math is still math, but there are always new ways of teaching a subject, and new things students will have to learn. Your innovations will help make that possible.
  • Curriculum design is highly collaborative and involves working with everyone from school boards to teachers.
  • Shape kids’ futures. A teacher has an impact on the classes he or she teaches. But a curriculum designer shapes the learning of every student in every school using their curriculum.
  • See your work in action. A curriculum designer doesn’t just file their curriculum away. It gets used to teach kids—and it gets tested and refined. If you’re someone who likes to experiment and improve things as you go along, this job may be for you.

Curriculum and Instructional Designer: What You Need To Know

You need a number of specialized skills to become a curriculum designer. You need to know the subject for which you’re designing the curriculum, you need an understanding of teaching, and you need to be able to measure the effectiveness of the materials you put together. Developing these skills requires higher education, but a working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Understanding of Teaching Methods
  • Subject-Matter Expertise
  • Ability to Work Collaboratively
  • Ability to Train Others
  • Observation, Data Collection and Analysis

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about curriculum and instructional designer careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Curriculum and Instructional Designer Careers

Master’s degree

Most positions in curriculum and instructional design are with schools or government agencies (state or federal), and require a master’s degree. Most designers have a degree in either education or curriculum and instruction. Classes often include instructional leadership, curriculum assessment, educational diversity, education research, classroom management and educational technology.

Some designers have master’s degrees in a specialty such as history, math, science, or English.

Public schools may also require curriculum designers to have a state educator’s license.