Earning a doctorate in education opens the door to leadership positions with high responsibility. Doctors of education serve as college presidents, district superintendents, and chief learning officers for business and industry. They may focus their professional lives on research and help shape educational policy in government, or they may play a hands-on role in schools, large and small, ensuring that the children in their care receive the best possible learning outcomes.

Ed.D. vs. Ph.D.

Educators may earn two primary doctorates: a doctor of education, called an Ed.D., or a Ph.D. in education. Students can earn an Ed.D. in three years if they go full-time, while a Ph.D., which has more extensive requirements, may take four to six years. An Ed.D. degree is based on educational practice, while a Ph.D. is a research-focused degree.

Ed.D. graduates are prepared for leadership roles in schools and districts and industry roles focused on training or employee development. Your Ed.D. program may focus specifically on leadership, including a concentration in policy, administration, global education, or some other facet of educational leadership.

Someone with a Ph.D. in education is well-prepared for a career in research or at the college or university level. A Ph.D. in education qualifies the holder to serve as a professor or department chair in a university’s department of education, helping to train other teachers. They may become a provost, dean, or college president or pursue a career that allows them to do cutting-edge research in their areas of interest. In many cases, they may do both: teaching at the college level while maintaining an active scholarly life of writing and presenting on their specialties.

Jobs You Can Get With a Doctorate in Education

A doctorate in education opens the door to many opportunities. Here are some of the most common professional positions for individuals with this credential.

Instructional coordinator

Instructional coordinators develop the materials that teachers use in their classrooms. They may write curricula and teaching standards, work toward implementing them, and lead efforts to assess their effectiveness.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), instructional coordinators earn a median salary of $63,740 annually, although those with a doctoral degree may make more. The profession is expected to grow at seven percent over the next decade, with a need for 15,000 new graduates in the field.

According to the BLS, many instructional coordinators work in elementary and secondary schools, while others are employed at the postsecondary level. Still, others work in educational support services or government positions. Their state may require them to have a teaching or educational administrator license. Your state’s Department of Education can help you determine what credentials you will need.

Elementary, middle, or high school principal

A position as a principal at the elementary, middle, or high school level allows you to play a pivotal role in educating children. Principals regularly interact with students, teachers, parents, other administrators, and community members. According to the BLS, they make a median salary of $98,420 a year, and unlike teachers, they work throughout the year. The job outlook is good for principals: there will be a need for 14,200 additional principals over the next decade to meet the needs of American students.

Principals usually have experience in the classroom, and although some principals have only a master’s degree, those in larger schools will have a doctoral degree. Most principals, 76 percent, work in public school settings. The remainder is in private and religious schools. Principals may have periods where they work more than 40 hours a week, and there may be evening or weekend events that they must attend.

Postsecondary teacher

Postsecondary teachers work in colleges and universities and professional or technical schools. There is a growing need for postsecondary teachers: the BLS estimates that the job outlook over the next decade will show 12 percent growth, with 159,400 new additions to the field needed to meet demand. The median pay for teachers at this level is $79,640 a year, although teachers with terminal degrees may earn more.

The range of specialties for postsecondary professors is broad. They may teach in various subject areas, including health, business, education, and computer science. Those educators working in a specific field may need training in that field along with their doctorate in education.

Postsecondary education administrator

At the doctoral level, postsecondary education administrators work for colleges and universities in student services and academic-focused positions. They may, for example, lead departments, including academic support, admissions, or institutional research. They may also research on behalf of their institutions or may serve as provost, dean, or president.The median wage for postsecondary education administrators is $96,910 annually. With job growth expected to be roughly seven percent, there will be 15,500 new positions available by 2031.

Which Job Is Right For You?

There are multiple factors to consider when determining where you’d like to work upon earning your doctorate in education. Consider the salary you’d like to make and the environment in which you’d like to work.

Your personal preferences will also play a role. Do you prefer to spend time diving deep into research on a particular topic, or would you instead work with young people to help them learn? Administrative roles may call for an individual who does well in meetings and can work with a broad range of people, from community members to parents.

Give some careful thought to your choices when you are considering a doctoral education program. With this degree, you have the opportunity to explore a wide variety of career options. It is up to you to decide which is best for you.