Pursuing a career in education is admirable. Once you’ve made that decision, you must determine the type of students with whom you’d like to work.
You might choose to pursue early childhood or primary education to work with younger students, or select secondary or higher education. You could also decide to focus on supporting gifted learners, who are present across all educational stages.
A Master of Education in curriculum and instruction can prepare you for a variety of careers in education by offering the advanced knowledge and instructional techniques needed to develop positive educational outcomes for specific types of students.
At ASU Online, our distinguished program — ranked No. 2 in best online master’s in curriculum and instruction by U.S. News & World Report, 2022 — offers two targeted concentrations structured to meet professional goals in education.
Let’s take a closer look at the two concentrations you can select as part of the Master of Education in curriculum and instruction program, and the potential career outcomes for each. Keep in mind that this degree and its concentrations are designed for professionals who are already active and licensed educators. These programs do not lead to teaching certification or licensure.
ASU Online's Master of Education in curriculum and instruction concentrations
Early childhood education
If you have a passion for working with young children — guiding them as they begin their educational journey and encouraging them to feel a connection to learning — early childhood education can be the start of a rewarding career in education.
Early childhood education applies to children from birth to age 8, which includes preschoolers through third graders. This is when many children develop the basic knowledge that becomes the foundation for the rest of their formal education.
As a student, you’ll combine theory and practice to meet the educational, social and emotional needs of young learners. You can expect to develop familiarity with:
- Community collaboration.
- Early childhood pedagogy.
- Instructional technology.
- Policy analysis.
As a graduate, you can teach preschoolers, elementary-aged students and learners in similar positions. You might also become an administrator, helping to guide higher-level decision making that supports positive learning outcomes, or even teach other aspiring educators at the collegiate level.
Selecting a concentration in gifted education as part of your Master of Education in curriculum and instruction program prepares you to focus on academically talented students.
You can learn about providing this vital support through a combination of theory-based coursework and many practical, hands-on opportunities to apply that knowledge. Additionally, you can build the talents needed to identify students’ academic abilities.
Gifted learners have plenty of potential and may already have notable accomplishments. However, they may require dedicated professionals to help them fully realize that potential. To that end, roles that focus on gifted learners span across direct education, administrative and support roles.
Jobs for curriculum and instruction degree graduates
You can pursue a variety of careers depending on the concentration you pursue and your interests. The following positions represent some, but far from all, professional paths that graduates follow:
- Curriculum developer.
- Early childhood social and community service manager.
- Education administrator.
- Gifted educator.
- Post-secondary educator.
Read further to learn more about these roles and which degree concentrations can best prepare you for that career.
What careers can I pursue with a concentration in early childhood education?
If you choose to complete the early childhood concentration, you can compete for roles such as an early childhood social and community service manager or post-secondary educator.
- Early childhood social and community service manager
Applying what you learn as an early childhood educator outside the classroom can be appealing to those who are interested in business and working with children. One such career path is the social and community service manager position. These professionals coordinate and supervise social service and education programs offered by community organizations focused on young children.
Social and community service managers create educational programs and oversee the professionals and volunteers who implement them. Social and community service managers are also responsible for collecting appropriate data to show the effectiveness of their programs.
The administrative topics covered as part of the early childhood concentration can offer valuable support in this regard, as can the coursework you’ll complete related to statistics and program policy.
The salary for this curriculum and instruction job sits at a median of $69,600, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While a bachelor’s degree can be enough to secure some positions in this field, others require a graduate degree. No matter the specifics of the role, advanced education can help you stand out as an attractive candidate.
- Post-secondary educator
Teaching future early childhood educators is another possibility with an early childhood education concentration. Teaching at the collegiate level requires at least a master’s degree and may require a PhD. It’s also helpful to have work experience either as an early childhood teacher or in a related career in education.
In this role, you can share the same concepts, principles, theories and strategies that you learn during the course of your master’s degree with the next generation of early childhood educators.
Flexibility is a key benefit in this career. Depending on whether you work as a full- or part-time faculty member, you could also remain directly involved in educating young learners or the crucial administrative work that supports positive educational outcomes. At the same time, you’ll continue to gain practical knowledge that can be incorporated into your collegiate-level lesson plans.
Salary can vary significantly based on whether a post-secondary educator works on a part- or full-time basis, as well as the institution that employs them. However, the BLS notes that median annual pay for post-secondary educators is $80,560. This role also benefits from strong projected growth, with an additional 156,700 positions expected to open from 2020 to 2030.
What careers can I pursue with a concentration in gifted education?
Jobs for curriculum and instruction degree graduates with a gifted education concentration similarly span across teaching, administrative and other support positions. One career to consider is becoming a gifted educator.
- Gifted educator
From a broad perspective, gifted educators generally fulfill the same duties as other teachers. The key difference is that they develop lessons, create academic plans and form support structures for strongly performing students.
The knowledge and abilities you can develop through the gifted education concentration directly support these efforts. A deep understanding of how to enable student achievement for high-potential learners, as well as how to address the pressure placed on them, can lead to positive results.
It can be difficult to effectively compete for this unique and demanding role without specialized education. While the BLS does not separately track gifted educator pay, compensation for high school teachers can provide some insight with a median annual pay of $62,870.
What careers can I pursue with either concentration?
Some careers in education are accessible to graduates who complete either a gifted education or early childhood education concentration. Potential roles include, but are not limited to:
- Curriculum developer
Curriculum developers, also called instructional coordinators, create materials used by teachers. Additionally, a curriculum specialist plays key roles in implementing those assets and analyzing their performance.
Completing a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in gifted education can equip you with the specialized knowledge needed to foster the development of exceptional students.
The instructional coordinator position requires a master’s degree in education. Prospective employers may prefer a curriculum and instruction degree over other options, due to the relevancy of that program’s coursework to the role. The BLS reports that instructional coordinators earn a median annual pay of $66,970.
- Education administrator
Education administrators make key decisions about curriculum and other important student needs — both academic and non-academic — serving in a vital leadership role. The ultimate goal is to provide a safe and productive learning environment for students.
By building competencies in areas such as administration, early childhood pedagogy and educational technology, you can effectively support positive educational and developmental outcomes for younger students. Education administrators may focus on gifted students or work with younger learners, among many other possibilities.
This curriculum and instruction job title includes more specific positions such as principal and kindergarten administrator.
While the minimum requirements for this educational leadership role can vary based on the specific position involved, a master’s degree may be preferred or required. The median annual pay for educational administrators is $98,490, according to the BLS.
An advanced education degree that makes a difference
Educators, from teachers in classrooms and community program leaders to administrators and curriculum designers, play crucial roles in student development.
Earning a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction from ASU Online means building the knowledge and practical experience needed to effectively compete for and serve in such positions. At the same time, you can benefit from the increased flexibility an online degree provides and access a suite of student services that can support your success.
By selecting a concentration in early childhood education or gifted education, you can tailor your studies and, as a graduate, more effectively support and positively influence students in those groups for years to come. Explore these concentrations to begin defining your path forward.