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Curriculum Developer vs. Instructional Designer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

If you’re interested in a career in education but are unsure of which path to take, you may be wondering what the difference is between a curriculum developer and an instructional designer. Both roles are important in the field of education, but they have different responsibilities. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between curriculum developers and instructional designers, and we offer advice on how to choose the right career path for you.

What is a Curriculum Developer?

A curriculum developer is a professional who creates educational material for use in classrooms or other learning environments. Curriculum developers typically have a background in education and experience working in the field of instructional design. They use their knowledge of educational psychology and learning theory to create materials that are effective in helping students learn. Curriculum developers may work with teachers, school administrators, and other educational stakeholders to understand the needs of the students and the goals of the curriculum. They may also conduct research on new instructional methods and technologies to keep their materials up-to-date.

What is an Instructional Designer?

Instructional Designers develop educational material, whether it be in physical or digital form. They analyze data to determine the best methods of instruction and develop learning objectives. They also create and implement assessment plans to gauge student understanding. Instructional Designers often work with subject matter experts to develop course material and ensure accuracy. They also collaborate with technologists to develop and integrate educational technology. In some cases, Instructional Designers may also teach classes or provide training to educators on how to use instructional materials effectively.

Curriculum Developer vs. Instructional Designer

Here are the main differences between a curriculum developer and an instructional designer.

Job Duties

Instructional designers create course plans, but curriculum developers create educational courses. Instructional designers focus on the learning process and how to improve it for students. They consider factors like a student’s background knowledge, needs and goals when creating courses. Curriculum developers focus more on the content of courses, ensuring that material is accurate and effective.

Instructional designers work mostly on pre-existing courses, such as those for college credit or professional certification. They may modify these courses by adding new material, changing existing material or deleting material. They also often work with other instructional designers on different projects. Curriculum developers typically work on original content, developing brand new courses without reference to other materials.

Job Requirements

Curriculum developers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field. However, many curriculum developers have a master’s degree or even a doctorate. Instructional designers also usually need a bachelor’s degree, but they might be able to enter the field with a combination of work experience and training. Many instructional designers have a master’s degree in instructional design or a related field as well.

Work Environment

Curriculum developers typically work in an office environment. They may also travel to schools and other locations to observe the students, teachers and administrators as they use their curriculum. Instructional designers usually work in an office environment, but they may also visit classrooms or meet with teachers and students to discuss how to improve learning outcomes.


Both curriculum developers and instructional designers use creativity, problem-solving and communication skills in their jobs. They also both need to be able to understand the needs of their audience and have a deep knowledge of the subject matter they are teaching.

However, there are some key differences in the skills each position uses. Curriculum developers tend to focus more on the big picture and on creating an overall structure for instruction. This can involve developing goals and objectives, designing assessments and creating learning activities. Instructional designers, on the other hand, focus more on the details of how students will learn the material. This can involve creating specific lesson plans, choosing appropriate instructional materials and designing multimedia resources.


Curriculum developers and instructional designers both work in the education field, but they have different roles. Curriculum developers create the curriculum for a school or district, while instructional designers create the curriculum for a specific course. Curriculum developers earn an average salary of $74,540 per year, while instructional designers earn an average salary of $76,880 per year.


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