Instructional Coach Career Guide
Not every job in a school involves teaching children. Instructional coaches work in schools to improve the quality of teaching and assist with teachers’ lifelong professional development. If the idea of helping educators reach their full potential sounds inviting, why not consider becoming 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.
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.
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.S. in Learning Experience Design & Educational Technology. 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.
Educational Leadership – M.S.
An online master's degree for current teachers looking to move...
An online master's degree for current teachers...
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: 73% of grads earned this degree within 24 months.
- Tuition and fees: $3,975 per 6-month term.
Coursework in this program includes:
- Process management
- Strategic planning
- Performance excellence
- Governance, finance, law, and leadership
- Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management
- Workforce focus
- Other courses, including a capstone project and a series of performance tasks to take place under the leadership of a practicing state licensed school principal or assistant principal in a practicum school site (K–12).
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.
Learning Experience Design and Educational Technology – M.S.
The M.S. in Learning Experience Design and Educational...
The M.S. in Learning Experience Design and...
The M.S. in Learning Experience Design and Educational Technology 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: 70% of grads finish similar programs in 18 months
- Tuition: $3,975 per 6-month term
This program includes two tracks for students:
- The K-12 Learning Designer pathway
- The Adult Learning Designer pathway
Coursework in this program includes:
- Learning experience design
- Instructional technology
- Curriculum planning
Develop training and instruction expertise to help you in the classroom, in educational settings, or in corporate world.
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!
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
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.
Where Does an Instructional Coach Work?
The latest stats from the BLS tell us that 44% of instructional coaches work in elementary, middle, or high schools. 19% are in colleges and universities, 7% in government, and 6% in educational and support services.