What Can You Do With an Education Doctorate? (With 10 Jobs)

Updated July 19, 2023

A person smiles as they read from their computer screen while working from home.

A doctorate in education is an advanced degree in the study of learning processes and the implementation of the curriculum in schools. People who pursue this degree often seek educational leadership roles and enact changes in their organizations. Learning what jobs you can get with a doctorate in education, along with the common responsibilities of those roles, can help you prepare for your next job search.

In this article, we define an education doctorate, including 10 jobs for you to consider, review the job outlook and take a look at some tips for pursuing employment with this higher-education qualification.

What is an education doctorate?

An education doctorate is the highest-level academic graduate degree you can pursue in the field of education. There are two key types of education doctorate degrees you can pursue:

  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.): An Ed.D. is a professional advanced degree that focuses on leadership in education, readying graduates to work in upper-level administration jobs at schools.

  • Ph.D. in education: A Ph.D. degree in education is a theoretical degree focused on research and insights about educational techniques, readying graduates to work as education teachers and researchers.

You can typically specialize in an area of interest, like instructional design in education, educational technology or early childhood education. Depending on your degree path and specialization, an education doctorate may involve coursework in areas like remote learning, neuroscience and human development and data-driven decisions. Doctoral programs in education often require capstone projects, which are practical projects applying complex skills and ideas or dissertations, which are academic research papers studying a topic in education in-depth. Depending on your schedule and the type of project you pursue, earning a doctoral degree in education can take between four and seven years.

Related: FAQ: Should I Get a Doctorate In Education? (Plus Career Options)

What can you do with an education doctorate?

With a doctorate in education, you can work at all levels of education, from kindergarten to higher education. You can also pursue careers outside of teaching, like education research and policy. Individual employers' requirements vary, but most schools prefer candidates with a master's degree or doctorate degree for roles in educational leadership positions. They also typically want educators with a strong understanding of educational theory, psychology and social issues that affect education.

Here are 10 career paths you could pursue with an education doctorate:

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.

1. Education consultant

National average salary: $64,307 per year

Primary duties: An education consultant works as an independent contractor or for a consulting company to help schools improve their curriculum. They observe and review the existing curriculum and policies at a school, make recommendations based on their expertise about how to improve and devise an action plan the school or company can implement. A consultant may have a specific focus, like integrating technology into the classroom or improving the curriculum for students in special needs programs. These specialties can affect what the consultant focuses on and what types of schools and companies contract them.

2. Dean of students

National average salary: $66,513 per year

Primary duties: A dean of students is an administrator in a college or university. They're usually the highest level of administrative authority in a school or program within the larger university. For example, a dean of a school of education focuses on managing that school within a larger university structure. They organize faculty and staff, manage the budget and foster student involvement and satisfaction. They set goals for the growth and success of their schools and departments and manage initiatives and strategic planning to meet those goals. A dean may report to the vice president or president of the university.

Related: 37 Dean Interview Questions (With Sample Answers and Tips)

3. Education researcher

National average salary: $68,957 per year

Primary duties: An education researcher works at a research organization or university, conducting experiments and developing research to understand learning processes. They study how personal attributes and organizations or institutions can shape the educational outcomes for specific populations, like students of a particular age or skill level. An education researcher can focus on specific elements of education, such as processes or forms of learning. They also produce scholarly articles and books that help spread their discoveries throughout the education community. Eventually, their findings can affect the curriculum and practices at every level of education.

Related: What a Researcher's Work Is and How To Become One

4. Curriculum developer

National average salary: $71,606 per year

Primary duties: A curriculum developer, or curriculum coordinator, oversees the development of the subjects comprising a school's course of study. They can work at a school, developing their curriculum to meet the needs of their student body and following guidelines state and federal departments of education set. A curriculum developer also can work in government at the state or federal level, developing standards for the schools in their jurisdiction to create systems of resources and exams to test schools' success in teaching the curriculum.

Related: How To Become a Curriculum Developer (With Tips)

5. Education professor

National average salary: $79,477 per year

Primary duties: An education professor works in a higher education institution teaching education theory to students at the college or university level. They create semester-long lesson plans, assign projects, design exams and assign and grade papers. They also conduct office hours to give students one-on-one help with the course material. Education college professors can also take part in clubs on campus, depending on their interests. They often contribute to the administration and program planning of the education program at their school.

Related: 12 Reasons To Become a Professor (Plus Jobs and Salaries)

6. Education policy advocate

National average salary: $80,323 per year

Primary duties: An education policy advocate works in education reform, creating and promoting policy changes for educational systems in their local, state or federal government. These advocates develop and promote policies to improve students' lives and learning outcomes of all educational and economic backgrounds. They're passionate about increasing civil rights in education to provide equal opportunities to every student. Advocates may review school records and conduct private evaluations to determine the fairness and quality of current policies. They also reach out to senators and members of the executive branch of government to advocate for their educational reforms.

7. School superintendent

National average salary: $92,050 per year

Primary duties: A school superintendent works with the district's school board to oversee the development and executive operations of the institutions in their jurisdiction. They meet with the school board and implement their decisions in schools. Superintendents make day-to-day decisions about educational programs and resource allocation on behalf of the board. They hire and manage principals for the public schools in their district and oversee schools from the elementary level through high school.

Related: How Much Does a School Superintendent Make? (Plus How To Become One)

8. Provost

National average salary: $96,910 per year

Primary duties: A provost is the chief academic officer of a university. They manage the budgetary and academic affairs of the students and programs at their university. They oversee the university policies and ensure each department and faculty member follows them. Provosts work with the deans of different schools and departments to deliver learning experiences to advance their school's reputation and student experience. They can also oversee the university's services, such as information technology, international studies, library services and research programs. They report to the university president and help implement the president's initiatives.

9. Principal

National average salary: $105,298 per year

Primary duties: A principal works in a school at the highest level of management. They handle the hiring and management of faculty and staff. They're also responsible for setting the performance goals for the school, making sure they align with the standards state and federal departments of education set. If they work at a private or charter school, they can handle fundraising and organizing funds. A school principal may also advise or discipline students. Many principals also inform parents about their child's behavior or new initiatives at the school.

Related: FAQ: Should I Be a Principal? (With Duties, Benefits and Salary)

10. College president

National average salary: $145,287 per year

Primary duties: The president is the highest management level at a college or university. They make executive decisions about the programs, funding and policies of the school. The president may work with a board of trustees and different committees, from college focus groups to legislative members, to implement new initiatives to improve the student experience. They may plan improvements to the college, like new buildings or renovations. A president also raises money for their university by spending time with donors, hosting fundraisers and meeting with stakeholders of the university.

Job outlook for common education doctorate careers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), here's job outlook data for some of the most common jobs you might pursue with this degree:

  • Postsecondary education administrators: The BLS predicts jobs for college and university administrators, like presidents, provosts and deans, may grow 7% by 2031.

  • Postsecondary education teachers: Professors teaching education may see an 8% increase in jobs by 2031, according to the BLS.

  • Elementary, middle and high school administrators: The BLS reports that jobs for kindergarten through secondary administrators like principals may grow 5% by 2031.

Related: 5 of the Highest-Paying Jobs in Education (With Job Outlook)

Tips for pursuing employment with an education doctorate

Below is some guidance to help you pursue these roles after graduating with your degree:

  • Rely on your network. Employers in academia often take referrals seriously, so fostering strong connections with people you've worked with in academic environments can be an effective strategy. Attending conferences, participating in online discussions within the education industry and utilizing alumni groups at your alma mater may be beneficial.

  • Create a targeted resume or curriculum vitae (CV) for each job. Many academic jobs require a CV rather than a resume, but some may request a traditional resume. While your academic CV may be much more comprehensive than your resume, focus on demonstrable results and unique accomplishments in either.

  • Highlight your leadership skills. When networking, drafting cover letters and interviewing for education doctorate jobs, remember to emphasize your leadership skills. Many jobs for education doctorates require clear-minded decision-making during stressful moments, so it's important to showcase your ability to delegate, justify your decisions and make strategic choices on behalf of the university.


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