What Can You Do With a Doctorate in Education?

A doctorate in education represents the highest degree in the field. Learn about your career options with an Ed.D. or a Ph.D. in education.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published September 28, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Samantha Fecich

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What Can You Do With a Doctorate in Education?
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A doctorate represents the highest degree in education. But what education careers can you pursue with a doctorate? And can a doctorate in education lead to careers outside of the education sector?

Earning a doctorate can prepare educators for roles like school principal or school superintendent. In addition to roles at the K-12 level, a doctorate in education can lead to opportunities in higher education, early childhood education, the public and nonprofit sector, and the business sector. Educators may increase their earning potential by pursuing Ph.D. or doctor of education (Ed.D.) jobs. And understanding career paths with a doctorate in education can help you find the right program to reach your goals.

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The Career Outlook With a Doctorate in Education

A doctorate can open the door to new career opportunities. And educators with a doctorate may benefit from demand.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the education, training, and library sector is projected to add 658,200 new jobs from 2021-2031. That represents a projected job growth of 7% in the field.

A doctorate in education also prepares professionals for leadership positions. The management field, which includes higher education administrators, projects 8% job growth from 2021-2031, according to the BLS.

This sector also reports the highest median wage of major occupational groups. In May 2021, the median annual wage for managers reached $102,450, according to the BLS.

What Jobs Can I Get With a Doctorate in Education?

A doctorate in education can lead to many career paths, including college professor, higher education administrator, and education researcher. This section introduces common career paths for professionals with a doctorate in education, along with salary and projected job outlook data.

1 K-12 Principal

K-12 principals oversee elementary, middle, and high schools. They manage daily operations, set long-term goals, and supervise teachers and staff. Principals also work closely with students and parents to create an effective learning environment.

Principals typically need a graduate degree plus teaching experience. In most states, principals at public schools also need a school administrator license.

2 School Superintendent

School superintendents lead school districts. They coordinate with school principals and report to the school board. Superintendents set goals for the district and manage the budget. They also hire principals and oversee disciplinary procedures.

Most superintendents hold a graduate degree, and many work as principals before moving into superintendent roles.

3 College Professor

College professors instruct undergraduate and graduate students in their field. Education professors train future teachers and prepare school administrators. In addition to teaching responsibilities, college professors often conduct research in their focus area and publish.

Most colleges prefer to hire professors with a terminal degree in their field. Typically, education professors hold a Ph.D. in education, though some may hold an Ed.D.

4 Higher Education Administrato

Higher education administrators, also known as college administrators, manage non-academic functions at the college and university level. They oversee admissions, financial aid, student affairs, and student services.

Most higher education administrators hold a graduate degree. A higher education doctorate can prepare professionals for roles like director or dean.

5 Chief Learning Officer

The chief learning officer at an organization manages training and development at the executive level. They assess an organization's employee development programs and implement new training programs.

Chief learning officers typically bring a background in education leadership and business. A doctorate in education can prepare graduates for these roles.

6 Education Researcher

Education researchers evaluate the impact of educational policy, the effectiveness of teaching materials, and student outcomes. They may also conduct field research and other assessments.

They work in a variety of settings, including at schools, private organizations, and in higher education. Advanced research positions often require a graduate degree.

7 Education Director

Education directors run departments in a variety of educational settings. Depending on their focus area, they might oversee academic affairs at a college, manage instructional staff at a school, or set educational policies for an organization.

Typically, education directors hold at least a master's degree, and many bring a background in teaching. The role also requires strong supervisory, planning, and evaluation skills.

8 Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers develop skill-building programs for organizations. They evaluate an organization's needs and create training plans to meet those needs. Training and development managers conduct research and evaluate program effectiveness.

Many training and development professionals bring a background in instructional design and education. A doctorate in education may lead to these roles, particularly at education-focused organizations.

What Are the Highest-Paying Jobs with a Doctorate in Education?

The highest-paying jobs with a doctorate in education include administrative and executive-level roles. A doctorate in education helps professionals pursue the following higher-paying doctor of education jobs.


Provosts manage educational programs at colleges. They coordinate with academic deans and departments to improve educational opportunities. Provosts also allocate funds to academic departments.

While provosts, associate provosts, and vice provosts all report six-figure average salaries, these roles typically require a doctorate and experience in higher education.

  • Average Annual Salary (August 2022): $169,940
  • Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 7%

College President

College presidents act as the CEO of their educational organization. They manage administrative and academic operations at their school, including administering the budget.

Most college presidents bring a background in education and administration. A doctorate in education can provide a strong foundation for these roles. At large universities, college presidents can earn seven-figure salaries.

  • Average Annual Salary (March 2021): $155,620
  • Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 7%

Chief Academic Officer

Chief academic officers oversee the educational programs at a school or college. They develop and implement strategies to improve the educational experience. Chief academic officers may also manage the budget and monitor enrollment and recruitment.

These roles report six-figure average salaries. Many colleges prefer to hire chief academic officers who hold a doctorate.

  • Average Annual Salary (June 2022): $145,670
  • Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 8%

Editor's note: Some of the salary numbers above may be based on relatively small samples, and potential salaries could vary widely depending on the employer.

What Can You Do With an Ed.D.?

With an Ed.D., educators generally work in school settings, often in leadership positions. Educators interested in school administration typically pursue an Ed.D. rather than a Ph.D., for example.

Ed.D jobs include hands-on, practical roles in education. During an Ed.D. program, doctoral students specialize in areas like education leadership, curriculum and instruction, or higher education administration. Ed.D. programs typically take three years to finish.

Common career paths with an Ed.D. include:

What Can You Do With a Ph.D. in Education?

After earning a Ph.D. in education, educators typically work in research, academic, and leadership roles. For example, the degree meets the requirements for college professor jobs.

A Ph.D. in education emphasizes research. Graduate students spend 4-6 years examining education policy, research methods, and program evaluation. Ph.D. programs also incorporate a research-based dissertation.

Common career paths with a Ph.D. in education include:

What Can You Do With an Ed.S.?

Like an Ed.D., an education specialist (Ed.S.) degree emphasizes practice. These specialist programs may lead to opportunities in curriculum and instruction, education leadership, instructional design, and higher education administration.

As a shorter, more focused program than an Ed.D., an Ed.S. program can help educators add skills to their resume and move into specialized roles. Ed.S. programs generally take 1-2 years to complete.

Common career paths with an Ed.S. include:

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