8 of the Highest-Paying Careers for EdD Holders

Career Resources Education

By earning a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree, you’re preparing yourself for a career with lasting impact—on students, on the future of a college or university, on your community, or on the trajectory of a nonprofit trying to improve other communities locally and abroad.

You’re also positioning yourself for advancement. Professionals who earn an EdD open themselves up to roles leading and operating schools on an elementary, high school, and college level. They learn to lead in a way that can be transferred to the front of a classroom or at the ground level of an organization.

Below is a look at what eight of those possible careers could be, and how much they pay, ranked in order of the reported average starting salary.

8) Postsecondary Teacher

Salary Range: $30,508$153,154

Postsecondary teachers work at the college or university level, developing course curricula, instructing students in a specific area of study, and assessing their progress. When they’re not teaching, professors are often conducting research, writing scholarly papers, or attending conferences.

Professors’ salaries vary based on where they are on the tenure track and their area of expertise. The median salary for a professor based on rank, according to PayScale, is:

Salaries range further depending on the professor’s focus. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10 highest-paying subjects—and what those subjects offer in terms of average annual wage—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

7) Executive Director

Salary Range: $41,498-$178,925

Executive directors typically serve as the senior leaders of a nonprofit organization or business. They oversee the organization’s staff, budget, policies, and initiatives, and often collaborate with a board of directors to draft and implement strategic plans, including fundraising. The median salary for an executive director is $77,082.

6) Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal

Salary Range: $50,833$122,422

Principals oversee a school’s daily operations. They hire and manage teachers and staff, set goals for their school, mentor and discipline students, and assess and prepare reports on student outcomes.

A principal’s salary might differ depending on whether he or she works at an elementary, middle, or high school. The mean wage for a principal, according to PayScale is:

5) Academic Dean

Salary Range: $57,365-$166,678

Deans work at the senior administrative level of a college or university. The role varies depending on the institution, but deans often manage faculty and staff, set academic goals, implement strategic planning, oversee their department’s budget, help fundraise, support research initiatives, and foster student development. Deans annually earn an average $90,329. Some departments you might find them in are:

  • Admissions: Those working in admissions develop and lead recruitment initiatives for a college or university. They evaluate applications, decide the number of students who should be admitted to the school, who those students should be, and communicate with prospects and their families.
  • Research: A dean of research often oversees faculty and collaborates with them to create a strategy for developing short- and long-term research initiatives. They also work to secure research funding, oversee the research budget, and establish key industry partnerships.
  • Student Affairs: The student affairs office typically oversees a variety of different departments, such as residence life, athletics, student support services, and diversity and inclusion. A dean of student affairs typically establishes and evaluates nonacademic programs that foster and enrich the student experience, as well as handle disciplinary issues and communicate with students’ parents or legal guardians.
  • Advancement: The advancement office—also known as “development” or “alumni relations” depending on the school—is responsible for securing funding for the college or university from potential donors, including alumni, government policy makers, corporations, and foundations. They nurture and maintain those relationships, ensuring all gifts received are being used as intended.

4) Top Executive

Salary Range: $69,780-$208,000

In education, this includes positions like “chief learning officer”—a senior-level professional who develops and drives strategies that help his or her college or university meet critical business goals. Chief learning officers focus on creating strategies for training, learning, and development, and typically oversee an institute’s latest technologies, such as its online learning platform. Top executives earn an average $103,950 per year.

3) School Superintendent

Salary Range: $84,431-$171,591

Superintendents are the top executives of a school district. They’re responsible for establishing and overseeing their district’s budget, staffing, infrastructure, and spending. They collaborate with their school board to develop and carry out their district’s vision and the goals that fall under that vision. Superintendents earn an average $117,673 per year.

2) Provost

Salary Range: $87,500-$244,237

A provost—or “vice president,” depending on the college—is a senior-level academic administrator who tends to be second in command after the president. Provosts work closely with deans and department heads, and help determine their institution’s academic goals and priorities, as well as how to allocate the resources necessary to support those initiatives. They often oversee daily operations, and work to hire and retain a diverse faculty. The average salary for a provost is $148,053. 

1) College President

Salary Range: $184,868-$1,554,058

Presidents are the top leaders of a college or university. Most have a background in academics, having served as a full-time faculty member before filling an administrative role, such as dean or provost.

In the role of president, they establish and execute on their school’s strategic vision, strive to maintain academic standards, spearhead fundraising for the institution, oversee the school’s budget, and meet with students and faculty to discuss any concerns, challenges, or opportunities. Presidents are often delivering speeches to a variety of constituents, such as donors, lawmakers, alumni, or faculty, and work to raise the profile of their institution, both locally and abroad.

Presidents’ salaries vary depending on the type of institution they work for. Public college presidents earn an average $431,000, while private college presidents make $513,817.


A Doctor of Education can help prepare you for success in any of these eight positions. Explore Northeastern’s Doctor of Education program and learn more about how you can take the next step in your career.