How can a doctorate in education help increase my salary?

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An administrator at a university

A long-term career in education can deliver a range of rewards, including both salary potential and opportunities to contribute meaningfully to the direction of learning. Education professionals who are seeking to advance on their career path can expand their knowledge and experience by earning a doctorate in education (Ed.D.), reaffirming their ongoing commitment to the field and gaining insights that departmental leaders and hiring managers may value.

Today’s online Ed.D. programs are specifically designed for learners who have full-time careers. Applicants from a variety of professional backgrounds can enter these degree programs to build the skills that can help them take the next step in their academic career, whether that means seeking a new role or advancing within their present place of employment.

Doctorate in Education: Credentials Matter

It can be challenging to qualify for administrative roles related to education and academia. Many community colleges and four-year colleges and universities prefer to hire candidates who have more than a bachelor’s degree for higher-level leadership roles. Even in cases where undergraduate degrees meet the minimum hiring requirements, advanced education can help applicants stand out against tough competition.

Professionals who want to ensure their longevity and advancement in educational administration will want to distinguish themselves among their well-educated and highly experienced peers.

The courses offered in an Ed.D. program can impart valuable information and skills to help administrators thrive in their day-to-day work. Earning the degree represents a remarkable commitment to upholding and advancing the principles and best practices of education.

An online Ed.D. program may be an appropriate choice to prepare for a professorship or other educational roles in settings such as the following:

  • Community colleges
  • Four-year colleges or universities
  • Corporate organizations

Jobs with a Doctorate in Education: Salary and Hiring Projections

Specificity matters when researching potential doctorate of education jobs. Many careers make use of the skills graduates develop in Ed.D. courses. Employers in higher education as well as the corporate world are eager to implement the latest practices from academia.

The hiring prospects and salary ranges for these roles will differ. Researching them can help prospective Ed.D. students make informed decisions about their future, both in terms of their postsecondary studies and their long-term job searches.

Those wondering if these positions will lead to salary increases and career stability can compare the outlook and conditions of each role with their present employment to determine the best way forward.

In addition to making a straightforward comparison of earning potential, professionals can determine which roles best suit their interests and goals within educational administration and related fields. While some Ed.D. students may be excited to work in financial aid, for example, others may prefer to work their way toward becoming a dean, or enter a career path that could lead to the C-suite. Others may prefer roles in corporate education.

The following are three of the most common careers for graduates of typical Ed.D. programs. Each will attract a different type of candidate, driven by a particular outlook on academic achievement.

Postsecondary Education Administrators

The many roles under the college administrator umbrella collectively represent some of the most promising outcomes for professionals who want to remain in the education field long term. Numerous positions within administration offer opportunities to earn promotions and become an integral part of an educational leadership team.

Demand for Postsecondary Education Administrators

Enrollment numbers drive higher education staffing needs. The more students an institution has, the more administrators it needs. Fortunately for job seekers in the academic field, statistics regarding first-time college freshmen indicate a rebound from enrollment drops that occurred after the COVID-19 pandemic began.

For example, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported nearly 340,000 students started college for the first time in Spring 2022. That total represents a 4% increase compared with Spring 2021.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) projections for the next several years of hiring in postsecondary administration indicate healthy demand for support personnel. The BLS projects a 7% increase in higher education administration jobs between 2021 and 2031. The BLS cites an increased interest in higher education for the expansion of career opportunities as a primary factor driving this growth.

The exact rate of expansion may differ across institution types. For instance, publicly-funded schools depend on state budgeting to increase staffing. The general trend, however, indicates more new enrollees are seeking diplomas, which indicates more job opportunities for administrators.

Differences in Postsecondary Education Administrator Roles

Administrative roles come with a variety of internal duties. The primary focuses of postsecondary education administrative roles typically include admissions, financial aid, and student affairs.

  • Admissions and financial aid departments require professionals to perform important calculations regarding their institution’s incoming classes.
  • Student affairs employees take on advisory and organizational roles regarding the experience of attending colleges and universities.

The BLS notes, however, that despite the generally favorable employment trend in administrative staffing, demand for some roles — such as deans and provosts — isn’t projected to expand. Each college or university tends to employ only one of each of these high-ranking professionals.

Salaries for Postsecondary Education Administrator Roles

The expected salary range for higher education administrators can vary widely as well. The vast range of earning potential is due to the fact that some administrative staff members are at the beginning of their careers, while others are long-tenured fixtures on their institutions’ leadership teams. These long-time leaders typically take on higher-paying positions such as provost, academic dean, or dean of students.

The median annual wage for administrators was $96,910 in May 2021, according to the BLS. The top-earning 10% of administrators made more than $190,770 a year. This shows the significant earning potential for professionals who spend years in educational office roles and advance to positions of leadership.

In addition to salary, administrators may earn unique benefits such as the ability to attend courses at their institutions. The BLS notes these office roles tend to have full-time schedules year-round, though some schools do reduce hours when classes are out of session for the summer.

Ed.D. Curriculum and Postsecondary Education Administrator Roles

Whether already employed in an administrative department, such as a university’s office of student life, or hoping to enter such a role, professionals will find the coursework in a Doctor of Education program directly relates to the duties facing staff members at educational institutions.

From the high-level impact of governmental regulations on administration, to the increasing role of technology in education, the subjects covered in an Ed.D. program are specifically focused. They are designed to directly inform staff members tasked with making high-level decisions that will impact the direction of their institution.

Chief Learning Officers

High-level roles for those who understand the educational field are available outside of academia. Many companies recognize the potential value of teaching their employees new skills and competencies. Employers are finding that this internal training can compensate for gaps in workers’ knowledge and help their teams thrive over time.

Demand for Chief Learning Officers

With education becoming a bottom-line priority for corporations, learning departments are increasingly high-priority parts of the business landscape.

The same concepts and abilities that make an administrative professional stand out in academia may help that person thrive in the world of corporate learning and employee development. For example, the proper use of e-learning and related educational technology is relevant in both academic and corporate spaces, as is the nature of modern learner preferences. Companies can benefit from running their developmental teams with the same seriousness and rigor as university administrators do.

The link between educational excellence and corporate learning has been especially strong in recent years due to the rise of e-learning. Many of today’s top-performing companies employ chief learning officers (CLOs), who blend digital learning tools with experiential training in key practices.

Talent development at these companies means pushing educational innovation and maintaining high standards of employee knowledge, rather than simply onboarding new hires or providing courses to ensure regulatory compliance.

Salary for Chief Learning Officers

A professional who takes the top talent development position at an organization can potentially vastly increase their salary. The company may employ a CLO if it’s large enough to have a C-suite position strictly dedicated to this purpose.

As of July 2022, Payscale noted these leaders earned a median annual salary of about $151,000. Even the bottom 10% of earners made nearly six figures, at $93,000. The responsibility of determining a large company’s talent development strategy is weighty, and these businesses pay accordingly.

Ed.D. Curriculum and CLO Roles

Payscale adds that leadership and strategy skills are among the most valuable proficiencies for chief learning officers when it comes to earning a greater salary. These professionals should also be adept at organizational development.

Being a convincing and effective CLO involves combining strong interpersonal abilities with the knowledge to implement the latest and most effective educational concepts. A doctorate in education can prepare aspiring CLOs by helping them build knowledge about these emerging concepts.

Professors of Education and Other Postsecondary Teaching Roles

Outside of academic administration, there is another way to apply the knowledge gained in an Ed.D. program. Institutions need professors of education to teach the next generation of educators the best practices of the academic field.

Salary for Professors of Education

The BLS places the median annual wage for professors of education at $63,910 as of May 2021. Some factors that affect professor salaries are unique to the field. For example, these educators often supplement their primary salaries by holding multiple roles, whether that means teaching on a part-time basis at two or more institutions, or taking on other work in addition to their roles as instructors.

Employment of professors of education is projected to grow by 8% between 2021 and 2031, the BLS reports. Similar to postsecondary administrative roles, employment growth for professors is tied to anticipated increases in enrollment — as more students pursue higher education, more teachers are needed to serve them.

Responsibilities of Professors of Education

A role as a full-time professor of education typically involves duties outside of presenting lectures and giving out assignments. Additional expectations can include:

  • Being available to students as an informational resource via regular office hours
  • Providing guidance to undergraduates
  • Becoming an advisor or consulting on research projects

Ed.D. Curriculum and Professor of Education Roles

The BLS notes a connection that can make an Ed.D. degree especially worthwhile for professors of education: Professors are often called on to serve on committees.

Professors may parlay their committee roles into high-ranking administrative positions at their respective colleges and universities, or they may maintain their usual duties while rising through the ranks from assistant to associate professor. Whatever path they choose, there is room for postsecondary educators to contribute to university decision-making and policy.

By mastering the subjects taught in Ed.D. coursework — from contemporary theories of education best practices, to effective e-learning and general technology use — professors can build their proficiency both in and out of the classroom.

Professors with a doctorate in education can impart these practices to their own students, while instructors in other subjects can integrate the lessons into their teaching styles. Professionals who combine teaching and administration may find the most uses for Ed.D. concepts.

Doctorate in Education: Curriculum and the Higher Education Field

A closer look at the subjects covered in Ed.D. coursework can demonstrate the close relationship between excellence and leadership in higher education administration and these concepts. Whether graduates go on to serve in office roles at educational institutions, take their expertise to the corporate world, or return to the classroom as professors, they’ll likely find their Ed.D. education to be highly valuable and practical.

Ed.D. vs. Ph.D.

One of the main differences between the Ed.D. and the Ph.D. (doctorate in philosophy) is the Ed.D.’s greater focus on the practical, day-to-day application of educational concepts.

When students graduate with a Ph.D. in education, they may continue in a research capacity, focusing on pedagogy and creating a library of studies that others in the field can reference. Doctoral students, with their focus on instructing and researching, may thrive best in traditional, on-campus settings. This is opposed to online degree programs that are meant to continue a full-time professional’s development in a current role.

Ed.D. Topics

The following are a few of the most important topics covered in the online Ed.D. program offered by Bradley University.

The program’s 100% online format enables students to pursue their education on their own schedule. They gain up-to-date insights that are driving the educational field today. When it’s time to make an important decision that will shape an institution’s policy and outlook, the information imparted in these sessions can provide guidance.

  • For instance, Boards and Educational Governance focuses on the way boards develop policies and interact with the rest of the school community. Boards can influence higher education leaders’ work at all levels. When administrators and board members collaborate successfully, they can make progress on key issues.
  • Learning in an Era of Technology is designed to reflect the way education is delivered today. The internet, mobile devices, and other tech innovations have irrevocably changed how people consume data. Educators who embrace tech and adjust their practices accordingly may have greater success reaching learners than those who resist such a strategy.
  • Equal access to educational opportunities for people of all backgrounds is a concept that prospective administrators should become familiar with. Across multiple departments at any institution, equity is affected by numerous factors, from federal and state policies to the measures implemented by those schools. Ed.D. students explore this important issue in Ethical and Political Foundations of Educational Policy, a course dedicated to political leadership and equity across constituencies.

Essential Skills for Doctor of Education Graduates

Students earning Ed.D. degrees aren’t simply learning technical information about the education field. The process of working individually and with classmates on projects and assignments can help cultivate interpersonal abilities, known as soft skills. These skills can help graduates thrive in administrative roles as they solve problems and communicate results.

Some of the skills a doctorate in education can impart to students include the following.

Action Research Methodology

Bradley University’s doctoral research requirement incorporates action research methodology. This helps students become deeply involved with a subject of their choice, learning how to incorporate high-concept ideas about the direction of educational leadership today in practical ways. This synthesis between cutting-edge theories and practical real-world application is a hallmark of the Ed.D. program.

Hands-On Learning

Professors in Ed.D. courses take a hands-on approach to teaching students the skills they need to make productive contributions in administrative settings. Bradley University’s Ed.D. faculty members are chosen because they have practical engagement with the ideas they teach, and can help their students apply those concepts directly to the everyday business of working for an educational institution.

These instructors can teach from direct experience and help program participants in similar roles.


Valued members of an administrative team are expert communicators and team leaders, in addition to having practical information on the relevant concepts in the academic field. When implementing a new policy, it’s important to do more than just suggest it — employees must be convincing in their presentations, with both the facts and personal persuasiveness on their side.

By learning in a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment focused on practical, real-world issues, Ed.D. graduates can build their interpersonal aptitude.


Ethics-focused courses, a cornerstone of the online Ed.D. program, combine information about the moral framework behind today’s academic institutions with takeaways that can guide students in their everyday decision-making as administrators.

By pondering the ideas presented in these classes, participants can improve their ability to lead educational programs that meet high standards of accountability and are a credit to their respective institutions. Moral clarity can be as essential to higher education administration as any amount of policy knowledge.

Earn an Ed.D.: Getting Started

It’s not difficult to apply for Bradley University’s online Doctor of Education program. Many elements of the program have been designed to be simple and straightforward, opening learning opportunities to as many people as possible.
In as few as seven semesters, students can graduate with a doctorate in education, having completed numerous courses on the contemporary best practices of learning and a capstone research project. All classes are administered 100% online, allowing applicants to remain employed while studying, and enter the program regardless of geographic location.

Because the courses in the Ed.D. are designed to be directly relevant to present and prospective administrators, it’s important that students can continue accumulating job experience while also adding to their knowledge and expertise through classwork. This combination of an unbroken professional history and faculty-imparted insights may prove useful, especially as graduates polish their resumes; seek promotions, increased responsibilities, and salary increases; or pursue more prestigious roles at other institutions.

Discover how the Bradley University Ed.D. program can help you reach your professional goals.



Recommended Readings

6 Higher Education Administration Career Paths

Doctor of Education Jobs for You to Consider Pursuing

What Careers Are Available in Education Management?



Association for Talent Development, “What Is a Chief Learning Officer?”

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Spring 2022 Current Term Enrollment Estimates

Payscale, Average Chief Learning Officer Salary

Payscale, Average Professor, Postsecondary/Higher Education Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Postsecondary Education Administrators

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Postsecondary Teachers