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Instructional Coach Career Guide

How To Become An Instructional Coach

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?


Teacher in class

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 practice and classroom technology and demonstrate how to use them 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 haven’t at least got a master’s. Getting an advanced degree like this will provide a thorough education in the latest teaching practices, and help 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: Get a Degree in Education

Getting 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) Get 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 instructional coaches to have several years of teaching experience. Use this time to gain real teaching experience and see what works in the classroom.

Step Four: Get a Master's Degree

One way to stand out from other job seekers is by applying for an MS in Educational Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, or Learning and Technology. These degrees will teach aspiring instructional coaches how to manage and be part of a team, how to develop and implement curriculums, plus communication skills for handling teachers, parents, and students. Getting 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 of course 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 Degree for Instructional Coaches

Instructional Design – M.Ed.

An online master's degree for current teachers and others...

An online master's degree for current teachers...

An online master's degree for current teachers and others looking to further their careers with a graduate program focused on designing top-notch curriculum.

No teaching license required.

  • Time: 87% of grads earned this degree within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,635 per 6-month term.

Coursework in this program covers the following areas of study:

  • Instructional design
  • Research fundamentals
  • Measurement and evaluation

Improve teaching, training and learning. Learn to build better curriculum with this education master's degree.

Learning and Technology – M.Ed.

An online master's degree for current teachers or others looking...

An online master's degree for current teachers or...

An online master's degree for current teachers or others looking to further their careers with a graduate program focused on integrating technology with instructional design principles.

No teaching license required.

  • Time: 73% of grads earned this degree within 18 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,635 per 6-month term.

Coursework in this program covers the following areas of study:

  • Instructional design
  • Research fundamentals
  • Technology integration

Harness the power of technology to teach more kids in better ways with this education master's degree.

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Student Success and Teacher Accountability

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

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 US. 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.

Interested in Becoming an Instructional Coach?

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

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