The Doctor of Education (EdD) is an advanced, practice-oriented degree that prepares graduates for professional practice in school administration, academic leadership and related fields. In business settings, the EdD, as well as the Online EdD, may be an asset in the areas of leadership, training and development and people management.
The EdD differs from the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree—the latter is primarily designed for individuals interested in contributing to education research, becoming a college faculty member or pursuing graduate school teaching jobs. While both degrees offer unique benefits, researching earning potential for EdD holders as well as career outlook might help you decide if a Doctor of Education is the right path for you.
The EdD is a practice-oriented degree that prepares graduates for vital roles in educational improvement, administration, and organization. In business settings, the EdD, as well as the online EdD, can be an excellent educational background for leadership, training and development, and people management.
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Brief History of the Education Doctorate Careers
In 1921, Harvard College awarded the first EdD. The Doctor of Education program attracted candidates with backgrounds in teaching and its purpose was to create a core of professional trainers for college-level faculty. As opposed to the PhD, which has historically required original research and a unique contribution to the body of knowledge, the EdD dissertation applied existing knowledge to problems in education—an approach that prompts students to focus on practice rather than theory. And with their newfound skills, graduates could pursue a variety of roles.
A common question for those considering a doctorate in education is, “what jobs can you get with a doctoral degree?” When it comes to EdD careers for those already working in the education sector, the degree may bolster a professional’s credentials. Today’s coursework and content for online EdD programs are often provided through a blend of online interactions and real-world experiences, designed with leadership needs of modern education institutions in mind. This is in contrast to a PhD degree, which prepares graduates for education research, graduate school teaching, academic scholarship opportunities and more.
The education requirements and curriculum for an EdD will vary significantly between programs and specializations. Often, individuals interested in pursuing their EdD will need a BA from an accredited college or university with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and a background in classroom teaching (or relevant leadership work). Comparing education doctorate specializations may help you find your career path once you graduate. Some specializations to consider include:
EdD in Educational Leadership: Students pursuing this concentration focus on sharpening their decision-making or conflict resolution skills. They also learn about ways to drive positive change in their workplaces.
EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership:This concentration focuses on driving change within the education system itself. It specifically addresses areas that impact how students learn. Related EdD degree specializations, such as an EdD in organizational leadership, discuss many of the same objectives. A doctorate in organizational leadership may provide students with an opportunity to advance their practical and leadership skills.
In addition to the options above, concentrations and specializations offered for EdD students may also focus on subsets such as early childhood education, education policy, STEM education and nursing education.
10 Doctor of Education Jobs and Salaries to Consider
There are a variety of EdD career paths for professionals with this advanced degree. Doctor of Education concentrations allow you to tailor what you can do with an EdD degree to enhance your career. Below are 10 Doctor of Education career options to consider, taking into account factors like EdD salary and job growth as documented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
1. Education Administrator Jobs – $97,500 median annual salary
Education administrators oversee the teaching and learning processes at educational institutions. Their work ensures high-quality education that meets the standards for academics, admissions, student development services, academic advancement and applicable federal rules for financial aid to students. Education administrators may also hold responsibilities in the learning environment at their institutions, including educational policies, co-curricular activities and research opportunities.
Education administrators may have titles such as registrar, dean or provost. Others have titles such as academic dean of a department or school in which they have overall responsibility for a significant part of a college or university; for example, a dean of the school of law.
The training and development manager aligns the training function with the immediate situation and long-term organizational goals and makes effective use of resources. Training occurs at multiple levels of employment including unit trainers and staff-level supervisors.
3. HR Director Jobs – $121,220 median annual salary1
Certain human resources positions require at least a master’s degree and some experience or a doctoral degree. The EdD may be a viable qualification for an HR director. Managing human assets is the core of some businesses. HR directors may oversee hundreds or thousands of employees in large corporations, or smaller workforces in small and medium organizations.
The functions of HR leadership roles encompass multiple aspects of the employee-organization relationship including tenure, recruiting, salary, benefits, performance, reward systems and more. The overall education and training levels of employees may also be a focus for a human resources executive who oversees HR functions designed to support all other organizational operations.
Instructional coordinator responsibilities may include developing instructional materials, coordinating implementation of changes and new programs and assessing the overall effectiveness of education within their organizations.
5. Nonprofit Director Jobs – $69,600 median annual salary
The executive director function in the nonprofit setting has a wide range of applications. Some community-based organizations have large staff, significant resources and a competitive salary structure, while others may struggle to meet their operational goals. Some nonprofits exist in the social organization space and perform fundraising, education and political action. Particularly in the field of education, nonprofits often exist for public benefit and use education and information as part of their missions.
Both from the aspect of managing people and managing education and information, the EdD may be a viable educational qualification for aspiring nonprofit executive directors and other social and community service managers.
6. Education Technology Jobs – $62,700 median annual salary
Educational and training programs are increasingly delivered through computers, tablets or other handheld devices. Training and development specialists who focus on education technology can be found in a number of industries, delivering digital learning support and developing services. EdD graduates with a concentration or specialization in educational technology may find careers as training and development specialists—helping to create, administer and deliver programs for schools, businesses and organizations.
A leader in the armed services may be a training and development specialist or they may be commissioned officers serving in one or more branches of the armed services. They may also be civilian employees of one or more of the armed services. Education in the armed services contributes to readiness and adaptation to technology and innovation. The level of education and training generally revolves around the chain of command, and leaders have responsibility for their assigned areas of duty. Whether by military units or designated personnel, leaders carry out plans and programs for educational attainment.
9. Education Lobbyist Jobs – $125,350 median annual salary
Education lobbyists work within the framework of national and state government, as well as other policy-making organizations and structures. Political organizations and lobbying firms rely on the knowledge of political scientists and education lobbyists to manage legal issues and regulatory policies. Lobbyists are needed to analyze policies relating to education systems and to champion desired policy outcomes on local, state and federal levels.
Education lobbyists work to advance the interests of educational institutions, private corporations and public nonprofit organizations engaged in various school policies, services and functions.
10. Elementary, Middle School, or High School Principal Jobs – $98,490 median annual salary
School principals are in charge of all the operations at their schools. This includes managing faculty and staff, coordinating curriculum programs, planning and managing school events, upholding good parent and community relations, maintaining a budget and keeping the environment safe and conducive to learning. In addition, principals are responsible for upholding state and federal standards, overseeing the hiring and recruiting of teachers, and monitoring students’ test score performance. Unlike their teaching staff, principals may work year-round, making the position both stimulating and visible to the public. In most cases, schools require elementary, middle and high school principals to have advanced degrees in education administration or leadership, as well as teaching experience.
According to a 2017 study by the Urban Institute [PDF, 2.1 MB], which surveyed mean earnings along with degrees held, average earnings are generally higher for individuals with an advanced degree than for those with a bachelor’s degree. Average earnings for those with master’s degrees were 23% higher than the average for those with bachelor’s degrees, and the average earnings premium for doctoral degree recipients was 63%. Average earnings were more than twice as high for those with professional degrees as they were for those with only a bachelor’s degree.
What Pays More: EdD or PhD in Education?
While there are differences between PhD and EdD in education programs, each education degree may offer graduates a way to enhance their professional credentials and help advance their careers. Those currently in the education field who are considering an advanced degree may wonder, “Will an EdD increase my salary more than a PhD?” or “Do teachers with an EdD get paid more than their counterparts with a PhD?”
For those in search of the highest paying jobs in education, unfortunately, there are no simple formulas to answer this question. Salaries will vary based on factors like geographic location, employer, industry, years of experience and more. This makes it difficult to distinguish which advanced degree will benefit teachers financially.
Is a doctorate in education worth it? An EdD may be a fit for those who seek to pursue leadership roles in an educational institution, government agency, nonprofit or corporation. Those dedicated to the pursuit of better educational outcomes and experiences might find that the EdD coursework aligns with their career goals. If you have a passion for improving organizations through teaching and learning, think about whether an online Doctor of Education program is right for you.
Information on this page last updated in January 2022.