11 Ed.D. Careers to Consider

A professor speaks to a group of students.
A professor speaks to a group of students.

Originially published on October 23, 2020 and refreshed on April 26, 2023.

Across a broad spectrum of industries, motivated professionals prioritize their ongoing development and career advancement opportunities. Individuals with their eyes on new roles and a desire to create positive change in the world know that these goals require ongoing investment in new knowledge and skills. Earning a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) is one of the primary paths to developing new forms of leadership better suited to respond to the needs of rapidly evolving societies.

Graduate education can present challenges for working professionals. Many may not have geographical access to the kinds of programs that would be most suited to pursuing desirable Ed.D. careers. However, an online doctorate of education offers prospective candidates the opportunity to balance their careers and academic pursuits as they apply best practices and new skills in their day-to-day professional settings.

Graduates with an advanced degree enjoy a wide range of Ed.D. career opportunities and the confidence to promote change across diverse instructional and organizational settings.


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What Are the Unique Characteristics and Benefits of a Doctorate in Education?

The ideal doctorate in education program will prioritize academic excellence while taking a holistic approach to student learning and development. It will offer a unique opportunity to cultivate deep roots of servant and ethical leadership as part of your personal and professional growth plan.

By completing an Ed.D. program, you can acquire the knowledge and skill set to stand out among other candidates and excel in public or private sector doctor of education jobs. And that, of course, is the goal — to maximize your career potential while making a meaningful and lasting impact in your community and in the world.


Skills Needed for Ed.D. Careers

An online doctorate in education program enables professionals to enhance their leadership capacities to effect change while continuing to balance work, family and community responsibilities. An Ed.D. program will model collaborative processes, emphasize problem-solving and explain how to adapt schools and organizations to changing external environments.

The curriculum in a doctorate in education program will explore subjects relevant to your current professional position and provide skills that lend to future Ed.D. career pursuits. Areas of focus include:


What Are the Differences Between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. in Education? 

Both an Ed.D. and a Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph.D.) are terminal, post-graduate programs that offer deeper knowledge in the field of educational leadership. But there are a number of critical differences between the two that you should consider carefully.

The primary consideration when considering the differences between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. is professional outcome. If you’ve decided that a doctorate in education job might be a wise path for you, it is important to envision what kind of work you ultimately hope to do and in what setting.

An Ed.D. is designed to equip those interested in hands-on leadership in education, nonprofit, government and even business settings. Some of the advantages of an Ed.D. include:

  • Practical application is emphasized over theory
  • Research is applied to real-world settings
  • Students can continue full-time work throughout the program
  • Collaboration with fellow classmates is encouraged to solve problems of practice

A Ph.D. in education is designed to emphasize research, both during the program and in subsequent career pursuits. It tends to emphasize theory over practice and is aimed at producing academic researchers in more focused areas of study. Some of the characteristics of a Ph.D. include:

  • Research intensive
  • More common career path to a research scholar or policy researcher
  • Potential funding options to focus on full-time research

Another notable difference between the two is that a Ph.D. often requires significantly more credit hours and time — sometimes twice as much time — than an Ed.D. On average, Ed.D. programs require 60 credits and can be completed in three years or more, while Ph.D. programs require 90 credits and usually take five years or more.


11 Ed.D. Careers

By earning a Doctor of Education, graduates can prepare themselves for Ed.D. careers with lasting impact — on students and on the future of a college, university, organization or community. 

An Ed.D. signals to employers that a candidate is a thought leader; someone who is dedicated to pursuing innovations in higher education and who has demonstrated the capacity to identify a problem and offer relevant insights for practical solutions. An Ed.D. can prepare graduates with educational and organizational leadership skills for leadership roles across various institutions and industries.


1. K-12 School Leaders

Education professionals who aspire to serve as school leaders or superintendents of schools usually need to earn a doctorate in education. The emphasis on leadership and problem-solving in most Ed.D. programs makes them ideal preparation for superintendents, directors of education and other school leadership positions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school principals earn a median annual salary of $98,420 as of May 2021. The BLS projects a 5% increase in job growth for these roles between 2021 and 2031.


2. Postsecondary Administrator

Earning a doctorate in education is often necessary to ascend to administrative positions in college and university settings. Postsecondary administrators oversee a variety of educational services at colleges or universities. These may include faculty research, student affairs, admissions and more. 

The BLS reports that postsecondary administrators earn a median annual salary of $96,910 as of May 2021. Employment for these roles is expected to increase by 7% between 2021 and 2031.


3. Curriculum Specialists and Instructional Designers

Curriculum specialists and instructional designers oversee the development and implementation of curricula and teaching standards. The challenges of effectively creating and revising academic curriculum, guiding educators in implementing curriculum and teaching methodology and analyzing student data to assess and improve learning outcomes will be better met with an Ed.D. 

The BLS reports that instructional coordinators, including curriculum designers, earn a median annual salary of $63,740 as of May 2021. The BLS predicts this field will grow in the years to come, with an expected 7% increase between 2021 and 2031.


4. College Professor

When considering Ed.D careers, one of the first that comes to mind is the role of a college professor. College professors teach at community colleges, colleges or universities within a specific subject area at the undergraduate or graduate level. As employees of a college or university, their responsibilities may also include:

  • Developing curriculum and course material 
  • Mentoring students
  • Conducting research and publishing journal articles
  • Serving on academic or campus life committees
  • Writing grant proposals

Most four-year colleges and universities require their professors to hold a doctoral degree in the field they want to teach. Aspiring college professors will also want to conduct regular research in their field and participate in committees and conferences.

According to the BLS, college professionals have a median annual salary of $79,460 as of May 2021. Roles for college professors are expected to grow 12% between 2021 and 2031, faster than the average for all occupations.


5. Dean of Students or Faculty

Deans of Students or Faculty is a doctor of education job within a college or university that oversees campus programs. As education administrators, these professionals support either students or faculty in order to facilitate a positive experience for all on campus. 

Their job responsibilities may include:

  • Meeting with students to discuss their needs
  • Directing the admissions process
  • Collaborating with departments to enhance the student or faculty experience
  • Planning campus life activities that boost student or employee morale
  • Administering and enforcing conduct policies
  • Intervening with students at risk of attrition or struggling faculty members

Deans of Students or Faculty often hold a doctoral degree in educational leadership. Their professional background may include years of working as college professors or in education administrator roles.

According to the BLS, jobs for postsecondary education administrators earn a median annual salary of $96,910 as of May 2021. The career is expected to grow by a rate of 8% between 2021 and 2031.


6. Academic Consultant

Academic, education or learning consultants may work for independent firms, school districts, product-driven firms or government agencies. Their job responsibilities may include:

  • Advising teachers, parents, school administrators, school boards and government officials on educational best practices
  • Assessing education standards and policies to make recommendations for improvement
  • Implementing data-driven changes in schools or districts
  • Recommending materials, technology or programs

To compete for Ed.D. careers as an education consultant, graduates often earn master’s degrees or higher. They may have a background in teaching. Independent academic consultants often register with national organizations for education consultants. 

Payscale reports a median annual salary of approximately $63,000 for education consultants. While there is not a specific listing for academic consultants, the BLS estimates a growth rate of 7% for employment in education, training and library occupations from 2021 to 2031.


7. Corporate Trainer

Corporate trainers, who may also be called training or development specialists, work in nearly every industry. Their job responsibilities may include:

  • Planning and administering programs to improve employee skills and knowledge
  • Assessing training needs
  • Designing and developing training materials 
  • Collaborating with employees to best address their training needs

Corporate trainers often pursue Ed.D. careers after having worked as teachers or in areas such as staff development or instructional design. While post-graduate degrees and certifications are not required, they may lead to faster career advancement or more job opportunities.

These professionals enjoy the opportunity to facilitate greater employee satisfaction, educate large numbers of people and participate in company success through their work. 

The median annual salary for corporate trainers was $61,570 in May 2021, according to the BLS. Roles for corporate trainers are expected to grow by 8% from 2021 to 2031.


8. Chief Learning Officer

Some organizations have set out to increase their competitive edge. Chief Learning Officers “steer the learning journey, in line with business.” CLOs coordinate and deliver training programs and opportunities and demonstrate to their fellow top-level colleagues how such training impacts the bottom line, customer satisfaction and employee experience.

According to Continu, “The role of a Chief Learning Officer is growing as more organizations recognize the need for learning and development to be central to their success.”\

According to the BLS, training and development managers, including chief learning officers, make a median annual salary of $120,130 as of May 2021. There is a projected 7% career growth between 2021 and 2031. 


9. Director of a Civic, Nonprofit or Grantmaking Organization

Hiring boards for such organizations often prefer candidates with advanced degrees. A doctorate of education can equip graduates with the theoretical framework and practical problem-solving skills necessary to lead an organization effectively. The program’s emphasis on strategy, systems, change and bringing about social justice will prepare students who want to pursue organizational leadership roles of this nature.

The charitable sector in the United States trails only behind business in terms of percentage of the workforce — 6.5% of the workforce works in the charitable sector. That represents a contribution of 1.4 trillion dollars to the economy as of the fourth quarter of 2022.

According to the BLS, top executives, including organizational directors, earn a median annual salary of $98,980 as of May 2021. There is a projected job growth of 6% for these roles between 2021 and 2031.


10. Human Resources Manager/Director

Graduates of a doctorate program who desire an Ed.D. career that allows them to craft policies, shape corporate culture and coordinate training programs and activities may find a human resources manager or director role to be an ideal fit. Human resources (HR) directors also ensure company compliance with legal policies, so Ed.D. degree holders interested in legislation may consider such a role.

The BLS reports that HR managers earn a median annual salary of $126,230 as of May 2021. Human resources manager roles are expected to grow 7% between now and 2031.


11. Education Policy Analyst

Education policy analysts work within school systems, at think tanks, in lobbying organizations, for nonprofits organizations and in the private sector. Such analysts research educational topics, evaluate the effects of education policies and conduct research to produce reports and articles. These analysts may focus on a specific area of education, or they may conduct a more general analysis of the state of education and possibilities for the future.

According to the BLS, political scientists in the education sector earn a median annual salary of $73,120 as of May 2021. The projected career growth is 6% between 2021 and 2031.

Marymount University students at graduation


Pursue Doctor of Education Jobs

Pursuing an Ed.D. career is an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in education. Working within doctor of education jobs that influence the future policies, programs and standards of education, graduates can set the course for an investment in quality education, allowing both teachers and students to reach their personal and professional goals. 

Marymount University’s Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Organizational Innovation offers an ideal opportunity to earn an Ed.D. in a convenient format. You can earn a doctorate in education entirely online in less than three years.

The online Ed.D. program at Marymount is a strategically designed educational experience that integrates research, theory and practice to empower leaders to solve real-world problems. Start building your school or organization’s capacity for high performance and continuous improvement. Become a leader who can respond to uncertain futures and new challenges with an Ed.D. online from Marymount University.


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