Curriculum writers play a large role in equipping the next generation with the knowledge they need to succeed. What is the average salary for these technical writers?
Average Salary for Curriculum Writers
The median annual salary for workers across all professions in the United States is currently $41,950. Writers and authors, meanwhile, earn a median wage of $67,120 per year. Technical writers — a very broad field that includes, but is very far from limited to, curriculum writers — tend to make slightly more. Their annual median wage currently stands at $74,650, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
The salary a curriculum writer earns per year is inevitably going to depend on numerous factors. They include, of course, such variables as the writer’s years of experience, education, and location. In addition, the fact that curricula are produced across the entire spectrum of educational levels must be taken into account.
Not only are curricula written for preschool through college, they are likewise produced for private companies and public institutions running professional training programs. Fire departments use textbooks for trainee firefighters, for instance, and companies may produce curricula aimed at helping employees master new software. All these jobs are likely to be undertaken by professional curricula writers.
Keeping the fact that curriculum writing is a rather broad field in mind:
- ZipRecruiter estimates a average yearly salary of $74,763, while offering a typical salary range of $21,000 to $109,000 per year.
- Glassdoor indicates that curriculum writers make an average of $64,286 per year, adding that most technical writers in this occupation earn between $43,000 and $100,000 annually.
- PayScale has significantly lower estimates, suggesting that the average annual wage for curriculum writers is $53,299. The platform additionally says, based on the data collected, that most curriculum writers make anywhere from $36,000 to $74,000 on a yearly basis.
- Finally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the median annual wage for technical writers who work in the publishing sector, a broader heading that very much includes curriculum writers, is $77,920. This figure excludes internet publishing, which represents an increasing portion of curricula as well.
What Do Curriculum Writers Make Per Hour?
Curriculum writers earn an average of $36 per hour, ZipRecruiter indicates, while PayScale holds this figure to be closer to $30 per hour. As a result of the large salary ranges in this field, however, it is impossible to make generalizations.
Some curriculum writers also work on a freelance basis, and these writers may be paid a rate per word, or agree on a rate for an entire project.
Salary Based on Experience
It is difficult to estimate how a curriculum writer’s number of years in the field impacts their potential earnings, in part due to the fact that curriculum writers produce educational materials across the educational spectrum. Salary.com does offer estimates for the job title of curriculum developers.
Some curriculum writers will be curriculum developers. Others, however, craft curricula based on outlines created by senior developers. Therefore, it is more useful to view this information to get a general idea of the amount by which a curriculum writer’s salary might tend to increase over time.
- In their first year on the job, curriculum developers are estimated to earn an average of $74,309.
- After three to four years in the field, curriculum developers earn an average of $75,197 per year.
- With seven to nine years of experience, that number rises to $78,640 per year.
- Highly experienced curriculum developers who have been in the field for 10 to 15 years earn an average of $80,309 annually.
Salary Based on Education
The same lack of data applies to average salaries for curriculum writers based on their level of education. Here, on the other hand, it would be reasonable to assume that highly-educated curriculum writers are those found at the upper end of the salary scale. That is partly because they will be writing more complex curricula aimed at college students or working professionals more often.
Salary.com suggests, again for curriculum developers as opposed to only curriculum writers, that:
- Those curriculum developers who do not hold a degree, and are likely to have a technical certificate from a vocational school instead, earn an annual average of $75,578.
- Curriculum writers who hold Associate’s degrees earn, on average, $75,831 per year.
- For those who have completed a Bachelor’s degree, the average annual salary increases to $76,212.
- Curriculum developers who hold a Master’s degree or equivalent earn an average of $76,846 annually.
- Those with a PhD or equivalent earn an average of $77,100. That is interesting, given the fact that this is the same as the mean salary across all curriculum developers, suggesting that many technical writers in this field are PhD holders.
We can learn, from this data, that curriculum development is a field that is strongly associated with higher pay for more educated professionals — no surprise, when you consider that curriculum writers create the materials that the rest of us are supposed to be learning from.
Top Paying States
ZipRecruiter posits that California, Alaska, Washington State, and Massachusetts are the top paying states for curriculum writers.
According to the government-run Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program, which collects salary data across professions, meanwhile, the top paying states for technical writers in general are California, Massachusetts, Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
The outlook for technical writers in general is very positive. This field is projected to grow by a grand total of 12 percent in the coming decade, much faster than the growth rate seen across all occupations in the United States.
Curriculum writers in fields that depend on a constant influx of new knowledge, such as software development and computer programming, are especially likely to enjoy an abundance of career opportunities. In addition, the fact that curriculum writers tend to be rewarded for their experience with regular salary raises will be welcome news for anyone who is considering entering this field.
What Exactly Does a Curriculum Writer Do?
Curriculum writing is a rather varied career area. However, professional curriculum writers may engage in any of the following activities:
- Researching and defining a scope for the curriculum — what will be covered, and to what extent, and what will be left out?
- Researching and writing educational content to a predefined scope, wherein areas to be covered and even chapters may already have been lined out.
- Being aware of the knowledge the target learners will have prior to interacting with a curriculum, and writing instructional materials in a tone that is appropriate to the target learners.
- Making the learning experience as appealing as possible, including the use of humor where appropriate, and posing challenging but rewarding questions and tasks.
- Ensuring that the curriculum is in line with relevant regulations.
Curriculum writers may create textbooks, but also handbooks for teachers, workbooks, and even exam manuals to be used in conjunction with a curriculum. Over the course of their jobs, they may work with regulatory boards, educational institutions, e-learning platforms, teachers, or private companies. Curriculum writers will also likely work with other members of a broader editorial team as well as graphic designers.
How to Become a Curriculum Writer?
While some people may aspire to write curricula from a young age, it is just as likely that they will:
- Be asked to write a curriculum, based on their current professional contacts, skills, and job title.
- While looking for a new job, happen upon vacancies for curriculum writers and determine that they are qualified, based on previous experience and expertise.
- See a “gap in the market” and proceed to begin creating curricula — such as, for instance, in the case of professional training curricula in large companies, wherein creating a standardized curriculum may be more effective than running loosely-organized training programs in small groups. Likewise, some professionals may feel called to create curricula for e-learning platforms.
In these cases, the path to this profession tends to be organic. However, those who actively aspire to become curriculum writers will want to pursue a relevant educational path, gain experience in that field, and then apply for curriculum writing jobs.
Qualifications to Be a Curriculum Writer
Curriculum writers who craft curricula for primary or secondary education will typically need, at the very minimum, a Bachelor’s degree in a related field. This may be education, English, communications, or other fields that equip the person with strong writing and teaching skills. It may also be a related technical field, such as mathematics, computer science, or biology, to name a few examples.
Curriculum writers at the undergraduate to postgraduate levels will likely need a PhD or equivalent qualification.
Those crafting curricula for vocational fields may be industry experts who also possess strong writing skills, such as truck drivers or SEO specialists.
Skills to Be a Curriculum Writer
Curriculum writers require:
- Strong interpersonal skills. They rarely work alone, and can instead expect to be part of a wider team with direct and indirect supervisors.
- Exceptional research skills. It is imperative that a curriculum is entirely accurate.
- Good teaching skills; subject matter knowledge alone is not sufficient.
- Outstanding writing skills.
Can You Be a Curriculum Writer Without a Degree?
In some cases. Curriculum writers do need to be subject matter experts, but depending on the area in which they work, they may have extensive industry experience or have attended a trade school as well.