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8 Careers You Can Pursue with a Doctorate in Education

Industry Advice Education

You’ve learned more about what you can do with a doctorate in education and perhaps you’ve already started outlining your dissertation topic. Now you want to know what’s next: What could my future look like after I’ve earned my doctoral degree?  

A doctorate in education can prepare you for careers in a wide range of fields—from elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education to corporate training and nonprofits. Here’s a look at eight potential career trajectories you could pursue with an EdD.

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What you should know before applying, from how to choose your dissertation topic to ways you can leverage your doctorate.


1) School Principal

Principals oversee the daily operations of an elementary, middle, or high school. They hire teachers and staff, manage the budget, and enforce disciplinary rules when necessary. Principals also develop and assess educational programming aimed at achieving student learning outcomes, all while striving to create and maintain a positive learning environment. More than 14,000 principal positions are expected to be emerge by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, offering a median pay of $92,510.

2) Superintendent

Superintendents—often referred to as the chief executives of a school district—manage the principals working within their district and evaluate those principals’ progress. Superintendents collaborate closely with a school board to develop and implement new policies and programs in line with the district’s short- and long-term goals, as well as allocate the financial and human resources necessary to achieve the district’s overarching vision. Superintendents earn an average $118,929 per year, according to PayScale.

3) Director of Curriculum

Directors of curriculum typically work at the district level, similar to superintendents. They review textbooks and create and select curricula, as well as recommend instructional techniques and classroom technology to teachers. They then assess the effectiveness of those techniques and learning materials by analyzing student performance and test data. Directors of curriculum command an average $73,339 per year in salary, reports PayScale.

4) Executive Director

Executive directors are often the senior leaders of a nonprofit organization or business. They work closely with a board of directors, yet are the ones who make the daily operational decisions. Executive directors hire and manage staff, handle external relations, engage volunteers, oversee the budget—including all fundraising initiatives—and develop policies, programs, and strategies that guide the organization’s mission and purpose. They make an average $77,418 per year, according to PayScale.

5) Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers work across a broad range of industries, creating organizations’ professional development programs. They evaluate employees’ need for training and then develop and implement workshops, online learning modules, and more to help staff gain the skills and knowledge they need to effectively complete their job or advance in their career. Approximately 2,300 new managerial jobs are expected to surface by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, offering an average $105,830 in salary.

6) Chief Learning Officer

Chief learning officers (CLOs) are senior-level professionals who also have a hand in developing corporate training, learning, and development programs to help their company retain and maintain its competitive advantage. CLOs advise leadership on effective coaching techniques and evaluate employees’ progress. They also typically oversee an organization’s latest technologies, such as its learning management system. CLOs earn an average $147,164 per year, according to PayScale.

7) Professor

Professors work at the college or university level, often within a specific field of study, such as business, healthcare, law, or computer science. They develop syllabi and course curricula, instruct students, and assess those students’ progress. When they’re not teaching, they’re often conducting research, attending conferences, and publishing scholarly journal articles and books. Employment is projected to grow 13 percent by 2024—faster than the average for all occupations, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Professors earn an average $75,430, but that varies depending on where they are on the tenure track and the subject they teach. The highest-paying subjects, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are:

  • Law: $111,210
  • Health Specialties: $99,360
  • Engineering: $97,530
  • Economics: $95,770
  • Agricultural Sciences: $91,580
  • Forestry and Conservation Science: $85,880
  • Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Science: $85,410
  • Physics: $84,570
  • Anthropology and Archeology: $81,350
  • Architecture: $79,250

8) College President

Presidents are the top leaders of a college or university. They establish and execute on their school’s strategic vision, spearhead fundraising, attend student events, and deliver speeches to a variety of constituents, such as donors, lawmakers, government, and faculty, to raise the profile of the institution both locally and abroad. They also collaborate with senior administrators, faculty, and staff to devise new ways to support students and improve their learning environment while maintaining high academic standards. Presidents’ salaries vary depending on the type of institution they lead; public college presidents earn an average $431,000, while private college presidents make $513,817.

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