Highest Paying EdD Careers in 2021

Earning a doctor of education (EdD) degree is a great way for educators to advance their careers and earn more money. According to a study by Northeastern University, people who hold a doctorate degree can earn a whopping $33,000 more per year than those with an undergraduate degree.

Completing an EdD isn’t just about money; a Doctor of Education can open a number of previously closed doors, from broadening your options as an educator to allowing access to the highest ranks of an institution’s administrative system. Some graduates even explore non-academic career paths.

But which EdD career options currently offers the best salaries? After all, doctorate degrees can be time consuming and expensive, and you’re going to need to earn some return on your investment to make it worth your while.

Let’s take a look at the highest paying careers that you can explore with your Doctor of Education degree in 2021.

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Top Executive    

While you may have started your journey as an educator based on a passion for teaching and guiding young people, your best option in terms of potential earnings through your EdD degree may be outside of academia.

Being a top executive means that you’ll oversee the general operations of a public or private organization. Tasks include:

  • Establishing policies
  • Appointing administrative positions
  • Assessing and analyzing performance
  • Directing financial decisions

Potential top executive positions could include roles like superintendent or president of a district or a school but can also extend to a vast array of positions beyond the educational sector. Other career paths include becoming the CEO of a private company, general or operations manager of an organization, or taking on a government position.

Almost every organization, be it public or private, has a high-paying top leadership position, and a doctor of education degree can help you to reach it.

Potential Position Titles

  • School Principal
  • District Superintendent
  • Academic Dean
  • College President
  • Chief Learning Officer
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Human Resources Director
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Government Administrator

Career Salary

The median salary for a top executive according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is $104,690 per year. However, because the title is a broad one, those numbers draw a somewhat incomplete picture. For example, the median pay of a general or operations manager is $100,780, which is close to the overall median, while the median pay for a chief executive is $184,460, which is far above the overall median pay.

Career Job Outlook

Again, because the top executive title is broad, the job outlook for a top executive varies widely. While the projected percentile change in employment from 2019-2029 for a top executive is in line with all other occupations at 4%, general and operations managers are expected to grow at 6% and CEO positions are expected to shrink by 10%.

Requirements to Become a Top Executive

It’s not common for a top executive to take their position without a wealth of experience, usually within the same company that they now lead. Most often, top executives work their way through the ranks, acquiring extensive experience in lower-level leadership positions before they make the leap all the way up to the top.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal

The top position in a school comes with the most responsibility and the highest pay. Principals of public and private schools are not just there to discipline students; common tasks include:

  • Managing school activities and staff members
  • Maintaining curriculum standards
  • Overseeing school budgets
  • Establishing relationships with parents and teachers

Responsibilities can also vary depending on the district, the size of the school, and whether the school is private or public. 

The job of a principal is a demanding one, as they are responsible for the successes and failures of the school and its students. Principals must successfully manage relationships between parents, students, community members, teachers, and other faculty members. The results can be rewarding, but the stress and pressure can be high.

Career Salary

According to the BLS, the median salary for elementary and secondary school principals is $97,500 for public schools and $85,930 for private schools. The lowest earning 10% of people in these positions made less than $63,070 in 2019, while the highest earning 10% took home $148,630.

Career Job Outlook

The projected growth for elementary, middle school, and high school principals from 2019-2029 is on par with the average projected rate of growth for all total jobs at 4%. It is higher than the average projected rate of growth for all other management occupations, which is at 3%.

Requirements to Become an Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal

Much like a top executive, it’s unlikely that someone would be able to earn the position of principal without first gaining a wealth of experience as a teacher. Many principals also once occupied a lower-level administrative position. There are also licensure requirements which vary by state and district.

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Moving from a teaching position into administration is a great way to earn more and expand your responsibilities while still maintaining the ability to help students learn and grow, albeit in a different capacity.

Postsecondary education administrators can take on a variety of duties, including overseeing academics as a provost or academic dean or working in student services as a registrar or advisor.

Postsecondary education administrators typically work year-round, but there may be a reduction in hours during the summer season. Colleges, universities, and professional schools make up largest portion of employers for this position at 79%, while junior colleges make up about 13%.

Career Salary

According to the BLS, the median salary of a postsecondary education administrator is $97,250 at colleges, universities, and professional schools, while it is $90,670 at junior colleges. The total median is at $95,410, which is about $4,000 higher than all other management occupations.

Career Job Outlook

The projected growth from 2019-2029 for postsecondary education administrator positions is on par with all other occupations at 4%, but higher than the projected growth rate of all other management occupations at 3%.    

Requirements to Become a Postsecondary Education Administrator

For a position like dean or provost, you typically need multiple years of experience in college administration to be considered. For positions in student services or admissions, the bar for consideration may be significantly lower.

Depending on the position, a master’s degree may be enough to get you hired, but it is always helpful to have earned your Doctor of Education or completed the necessary online EdD courses.

College Professors

If your passion is working directly with students and helping them toward a bright and fruitful future, there are many EdD programs that lead to postsecondary teaching positions that bump your salary.

College professor duties include:

  • Developing a course outline
  • Planning lessons
  • Giving out and grading assignments
  • Assessing student progress
  • Advising students

College professors have an opportunity to focus on a particular subject that interests them, which can make their job more rewarding. They also have the opportunity to affect the lives of young people, which is another major reason why people choose to become postsecondary teachers.

However, this position comes with a lower salary than some other positions available to people who have completed EdD programs.  

Career Salary

Salaries vary widely for college professors and are based on multiple factors, including the school of employment and the subject being taught. The overall median annual wage is $79,540, according to the BLS, with the lowest earning 10% making less than $40,480 and the highest earning 10% making more than $174,960.

Career Job Outlook

The projected growth for postsecondary teacher positions from 2019-2029 is a whopping 9%, which is 5% higher than the projected growth for all occupations and 4% higher than other educational instruction and library occupations, which stands at 5%.

Requirements to Become a College Professor

Although experience in education is always a helpful addition to your resume when you’re applying for a college professor position, it’s not always necessary in order to get hired.

Depending on your field, it may be more important that you have experience in the industry rather than experience in a classroom. If you are teaching a course that prepares students for earning a particular certificate, registration, or license, then you may be expected to hold those same credentials.

It should be noted that with certain subjects, it can be very difficult to become a college professor without earning an EdD degree or completing the necessary online EdD courses.

Instructional Coordinators

An instructional coordinator oversees the development and implementation of a school’s teaching standards and curriculums. Instructional coordinators then assess the effectiveness of new policies in conjunction with teachers and administrative officials.

Job responsibilities include:

  • Holding workshops, conferences, and classes
  • Suggesting educational materials and technology tools
  • Training teachers and other staff members
  • Reviewing and analyzing student test data

A majority of instructional coordinators are employed by elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools, but there are also a number of positions in government and other educational support services.

Career Salary

Salaries depend on which sector an instructional coordinator works in. Government positions are the highest paying, with a median annual wage of $76,270, while colleges, universities, and professional schools are the lowest at $60,910.

Career Job Outlook

Instructional coordinators have a positive outlook in terms of projected growth from 2019-2029. The position is predicted to grow by 6%, which is higher than other educational instruction and library occupations. It is also higher than projected growth for all total occupations, which are projected to grow by 4%.

Requirements to Become an Instructional Coordinator

An instructional coordinator brings a number of years of experience in education or instructional leadership to the position. Requirements could include a teaching or educational administrator license or experience with the specific subject or grade level that the position is developing a curriculum for.

Highest Paying States for EdD Graduates

Because schools vary widely by state, salaries connected to education vary widely, too. Below is a list of the top-paying states in the country for each of the top-paying positions open to those who have completed the necessary EdD programs.

If you don’t already live in one of these states, perhaps you can move there now and earn your online doctorate in education so that you’ll be ready to apply the moment you get your degree. 

Top Executive

  1. South Dakota: $256,110
  2. New Jersey: $253,320
  3. Rhode Island: $249,360
  4. District of Columbia: $235,450
  5. Connecticut: $231,590

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal

  1. New York: $130,600
  2. New Jersey: $129,990
  3. Connecticut: $129,700
  4. California: $128,880
  5. Washington: $120,300

Postsecondary Education Administrator

  1. New Jersey: $154,430
  2. New York: $140,870
  3. Maryland: $136,380
  4. Delaware: $133,930
  5. California: $129,400

College Professor

Note: Salaries for college professors vary widely depending on the subject taught. The information below is for an English professor, which is considered to be the 24th highest paid postsecondary subject. For more information, go to Salary.com

  1. California: $121,450
  2. District of Columbia: $112,250
  3. New York: $102,950
  4. Rhode Island: $92,410
  5. Idaho: $91,900

Instructional Coordinator

  1. District of Columbia: $96,640
  2. Connecticut: $94,450
  3. Oregon: $83,110
  4. California: $80,970
  5. New Jersey: $76,680

EdD vs. EdS

When you’re researching on-campus and online EdD programs, you’re likely to come across some information about educational specialist, or EdS, programs. While EdD and EdS programs have their similarities, there are some clear distinctions between them.

EdD programs take longer to complete and can open your career path to include postsecondary education or roles outside of academia. In contrast, an EdS is quicker to earn, but it will only focus on K-12 education.

Earning an on-campus or online doctorate in education takes about three years and 60 credits, while an on-campus or online EdS requires 30 credits over the course of about 1-2 years.

Because of this, if you want to quickly earn your post-grad credentials, it may be wiser to opt for the educational specialist degree.

Other EdD Careers

If you’re planning on earning your on-campus or online Doctorate in Education and none of these careers speak to you personally, don’t worry. There are many more jobs that your post-grad degree can earn you, including the following:

  • Director of a Non-Profit Organization
  • Program Improvement Specialist
  • Leader in the Armed Forces
  • Healthcare Administrator
  • Professional Development Specialist
  • Social or Community Service Manager

Earning your doctorate opens up a ton of career path options and provides a powerful bargaining chip when determining your salary. The commitment to your degree is a large physical, mental, and financial decision, but ultimately it can prove to be a great way to further your career and increase your earning power.