How to Become a Curriculum Director

Dr. Jeff Keeling
Dr. Jeff Keeling
High school principal; Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
A teacher professional stands in front of a sketch of a classroom filled with students learning.

What Does a Curriculum Director Do?

Curriculum directors are responsible for overseeing instructional programming for identified grade bands within a school system. Some smaller schools may have a curriculum director for grades K-12, while larger school systems may have them for specific grade spans such as the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Curriculum directors develop a cohesive plan for instruction across the grade bands in their charge and determine how and when assessments will be used to monitor progress toward curricular goals. These professionals often coordinate state assessments within their school systems and work to ensure that classroom instruction is aligned to applicable state standards.

Curriculum Director Requirements: Skills

Curriculum directors need to be highly organized and goal-oriented leaders. As the curriculum and instruction directors within their school systems, they are responsible for overseeing the development of curriculum planning and maps that outline the scope and sequence of each course and the time frames in which material should be completed. As a result, a thorough knowledge of pedagogical best practices and effective assessment strategies is critical for an individual to experience success in this role.

Curriculum Director Requirements: Education

The educational requirements to become a curriculum director are somewhat less formalized than other certificated school leadership positions. Curriculum director jobs require a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction or a related field, at least. For example, individuals holding a principal certification and master’s degree in school leadership also are eligible to become curriculum directors.

In some circumstances, a school system may require curriculum directors to have earned their school superintendent credentials, as curriculum directors often are classified as district-level employees. In these cases, a school system may refer to curriculum director positions as assistant superintendent for secondary education, assistant superintendent for elementary education, etc.

Regardless of the specific title, the responsibilities of supervisory roles related to curriculum are extremely similar. As such, the educational path taken to qualify for such a position is secondary to the necessary skills through professional experiences that qualify an individual for work in the curriculum supervision field. Another important point to consider is that in a supervisory role, interaction is adult-based more than it is student-based, so interested educators should understand this from the outset.

Why Should You Consider a Curriculum Director Position?

Several reasons exist for why educators should consider pursuing a curriculum director position. Naturally, rising to a role such as that of a curriculum director brings increased responsibility. With that responsibility, however, also comes a greater sense of leadership and control over how learning takes place within their school systems.

Curriculum directors should be comfortable with developing and presenting professional development activities and lessons. Additionally, they must also continually monitor progress, not only as it relates to student achievement, but also to ensure that all content is taught in a timely manner.

Ultimately, curriculum directors can shape students’ learning experiences within the grade band to which they are assigned. This requires knowledge related to the way in which students process and understand information. For this reason, it is critical that curriculum directors have prior experience as classroom teachers to understand and appreciate everything that occurs at the ground level.

Curriculum directors also supervise academic programming and teachers within a school system, so the salary earning potential is significantly greater than the salary of a classroom teacher.

In many cases, the benefits associated with a curriculum director salary would be similar to those earned by classroom teachers. However, administrative employees may have additional retirement benefits and school-funded investments into their retirement accounts, etc.

How to Become a Curriculum Director

To become a curriculum director, one needs to be a practicing educator who has the desire to take on increased leadership and oversight responsibilities. Naturally, a teacher who wishes to become a curriculum director should enroll in a graduate program in curriculum and instruction or a closely related content area.

Additionally, interested individuals should speak with those who hold their desired position within their school systems. Before beginning a graduate program, it is imperative to obtain the perspective of those who have held the position being considered to make an informed decision about whether it would be a good fit. Once an individual has determined that they would like to pursue a career as a curriculum director, they should begin taking all necessary steps, including earning a related master’s degree and shadowing currently-serving curriculum directors as soon as possible.

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