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Instructional Coach Career


What is an Instructional Coach?


An instructional coach works with teachers to improve the quality of their lessons and the quality of students' education. They serve as mentors and role models, helping teachers stay fresh and use the latest techniques and technologies in their classrooms. A career in coaching is well-suited to those who want to help other teachers, and therefore their students, flourish.


What Does an Instructional Coach Do?

An instructional coach is in charge of professional development at a school, but that’s not all they do. While the specifics of the job might vary from place to place, here are some of the tasks an instructional coach might be asked to perform throughout their coaching career:

  • Overseeing teachers professional development. A school is only as good as its teachers, and a large part of an instructional coach’s job is taking responsibility for their continuous growth. That can mean mentoring, observing classes, and providing feedback. But remember, some teachers might be sensitive to feedback, so a high level of emotional intelligence is required for this role.
  • Teaching and technology. Education is a fast-moving field. An instructional coach is required to stay on top of the latest changes in teaching practices and classroom technology, and demonstrate how to use these tools and methods effectively in the classroom.
  • Modeling classes. It’s not just about observing teacher’s classes and helping them improve. An instructional coach will be expected to show them how it’s done. Instructional coaches will have to demonstrate the latest practices in front of students and other (highly experienced) teachers, so confidence in one’s teaching ability is a must.


How Do I Become an Instructional Coach?

An instructional coach will likely need a teaching degree to become an instructor, and also a master’s degree in education. Instructional coaches serve as role models and mentors for other teachers at the school, so these degrees are the bare minimum. 

It’s hard to imagine a coach commanding the respect of veteran teachers if they have not earned a master’s degree. An advanced degree will provide a thorough education in the latest teaching practices, and allow you to develop the skills necessary to ensure both students and teachers reach their full potential. These include skills such as lesson and curriculum planning, mentoring, and working closely with other teachers as part of a team.

The path to becoming an instructional coach isn’t short, but it is quite straightforward. The requirements are quite similar to being a regular teacher, but plenty of experience and a master’s degree is required to land an instructional coaching job.

Step One: Earn a degree in education

Earning a bachelor’s degree in education serves as the foundation for a career as an instructional coach. A solid degree in education focuses on the latest in teaching methodology, classroom technology, and student management. Aspiring instructional coaches will learn how to plan and teach an effective class and stay atop the latest developments in teaching. A good program will prepare its students to meet the challenges of a career in education with confidence.

Step Two: Become a certified teacher

The first step to becoming an instructional coach is getting certified. The exact process varies state by state, but the basics are similar.

You need to:

1) Earn a bachelor’s degree

2) Gain experience as a student-teacher 

3) Pass a general test (Praxis) and a specific test for one’s specialized subject

4) Pass both a professional background check and a criminal one

Step Three: Gain experience teaching

Certified teachers are now ready to enter the workforce. However, nobody is going to hire an instructor who isn’t a highly effective and experienced teacher. Most jobs require that instructional coaches have several years of teaching experience. Use this time to gain real teaching experience and see what works in the classroom.

Step Four: Earn a master's degree

One way to stand out from other job seekers is by applying for an M.S. in Educational Leadership, or an M.Ed. Education Technology and Instructional Design. These degrees will teach aspiring instructional coaches how to manage and be part of a team, how to develop and implement curriculums, and communication skills for handling teachers, parents, and students. Earning a master’s degree is the best way to stay aware of the latest developments in research and teaching practices—a must for those who want to coach other teachers.

Step Five: Apply for jobs as an instructional coach

Candidates with plenty of teaching experience and an advanced postgraduate degree are ready to head out into the world and start applying for jobs. The job market is competitive, but those who’ve followed these steps will have all the skills and experience to become a successful instructional coach and start making a real difference in the education system.

Best Degrees for Instructional Coaches


Educational Leadership – M.S.

An online master's degree for current teachers looking to move into a...

An online master's degree for current teachers looking to move into a school or district leadership position, like principal, vice principal, or administrator.

  • Time: 60% of grads earned this degree within 23 months.
  • Tuition: $3,975 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 13 total courses in this program.

This program is for licensed teachers who are ready to take the next step in their education career.

Skills for your résumé included in this program:

  • School Law
  • School Financial Leadership
  • People & Talent
  • School Operations and Management
  • Leadership Ethics

Put your leadership skills to good use—in the service of America's children—with this education master's degree. 

States that do not accept this program: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota.


Education Technology and Instructional Design – M.Ed.

The M.Ed. in Education Technology and Instructional Design from WGU is for...

The M.Ed. in Education Technology and Instructional Design from WGU is for instructional designers tasked with creating engaging and immersive virtual learning experiences that can substitute for on-ground instruction.

No teaching license required.

  • Time: 62% of students finish this program in 10 months.
  • Tuition: $3,975 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 12 total courses in this program.

This program includes two tracks for students to choose from:

  • The K-12 pathway
  • The Adult Learner pathway

Skills for your résumé included in this program:

  • Learning Experience Design
  • Assessment and Learning Analytics
  • Learning Technology
  • Research Methodology

Develop training and instruction expertise to help you in the classroom, in educational settings, or in corporate world.

How Much Does an Instructional Coach Make?


According to Glassdoor, instructional coaches make a median salary of $66,970. The lowest 10% make around $39,270 per year and the highest can pull in $105,650. The pay will vary depending on how much experience one has, and the state they’re working in.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 6% growth between 2019-2029. That’s faster than average for all other types of occupations in the U.S. With the ever-growing importance of student test scores, schools seem to be relying on instructional coaches to improve teacher performance and meet their educational goals.


What Skills Does an Instructional Coach Need?

An instructional coach needs to embody the values that they wish to nurture in other teachers. As a mentor and role model, they should have:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Be on top of the latest advances in pedagogy
  • Be highly literate in classroom technology
  • Have a high emotional intelligence
  • Have curriculum planning and module design skills
  • Work well as part of a team

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No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

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Interested in Becoming an Instructional Coach?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.