What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Education (EdD)?

businesswomen reading paperwork
businesswomen reading paperwork

Experienced leaders and educators make their resumes more versatile with a Doctor of Education. This terminal degree provides the hands-on research and analytical experiences necessary for a broad spectrum of careers. Graduates find fulfilling careers with doctorates in education in and out of the educational services field.

The answer to the question, “What can you do with a doctorate in education?” evolves as organizations search for new leaders. Spalding University’s Online Doctor of Education in Leadership (EdD: Leadership) trains candidates toward ethical and people-centered leadership. The program’s faculty members speak from active leadership experience when working with students.


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School Leadership Careers

Leading a department, school or district goes beyond maintaining high levels of service to students. School leaders have to balance human resources, finance, communications and administrative responsibilities. These high-level positions also have to balance the demands of stakeholders from school boards to state legislators.

The skills learned in EdD programs are important in navigating these challenges. Leaders can make innovative decisions within their schools when they know how to combine research with conscientiousness. Leaders are prepared for challenging K-12 and university careers with a doctorate in education.


K-12 Education

Experienced teachers and educational specialists unlock advanced jobs with their EdD. School principals possess years of classroom experience before assuming leadership positions. This pipeline is similar for district superintendents who are drawn from the ranks of school leaders.

Successful leaders at the K-12 level rely on strong interpersonal skills as well as pedagogical knowledge. School administrators Lisa Gonzales and Devin Vodicka identified soft skills needed for today’s principals and superintendents, including:

  • Critical thinking
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Flexibility
  • Openness to feedback

K-12 jobs with EdD degrees are personally fulfilling and provide good returns for your education dollar. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists a median income of $98,490 per year for school principals. Superintendents earned up to $334,000 per year, according to a 2022 survey by the American Association of School Administrators.


Higher Education

The leadership hierarchy in every college and university presents abundant opportunities for EdD graduates. Every link in the higher education chain has to be strong so that students are ready for the workplace. Careers with doctorates in education at the post-secondary level cover areas like:

  • Academic departments
  • Admissions
  • Registrar’s offices
  • Student affairs

Departmental roles are not only rewarding in the present but build experience for executive positions. College presidents and provosts turn insights gained within departments to guide their institutions. A doctorate in education allows you to focus on student-facing jobs or aim for the top levels of university leadership.

BLS data show a median salary of $97,500 per year for post-secondary education administrators. The Chronicle of Higher Education listed median presidential salaries of $495,000 at public universities and $824,000 at private colleges. There’s a lot of room for personal and professional growth in higher education careers with doctorates in education.

business executive woman


Nonprofit Leadership Opportunities

The versatile skills learned in an EdD program are applicable beyond educational environments. Nonprofit organizations improve lives through mission-based programs and services. You can pursue nonprofit careers with a doctorate in education and your professional experiences.

Nonprofits are promising avenues for professionals who want to make an impact on social problems. These organizations span every aspect of daily life, from animal welfare to mental health. There is room for chief executives, development officers and directors to innovate in their areas of focus while serving the greater good.

NonProfit PRO surveys nonprofit leaders every year to find out organizational challenges and opportunities. Survey results show the need for leaders who can quickly pivot from area to area. The 2021 report found the top priorities for nonprofits included:

  • Increasing corporate partnerships
  • Boosting monthly and recurring donations
  • Expanding data-driven decisions
  • Streamlining performance with technology

The nonprofit sector covers local organizations with smaller budgets to international charities with millions of dollars in annual expenses. This variety leads to a wide range of median salaries at the executive level. Excellence in Giving found a median CEO salary of $150,420, with the largest organizations paying $332,089 on average.


Job Options in the Public Sector

Our elected officials are the most visible figures in the public sector. The decisions made by mayors, legislators and presidents are carried out by networks for skilled administrators. Professionals looking to break into public service can pursue these careers with doctorates in education.

A doctoral education program emphasizes the importance of conducting and communicating research to stakeholders. These skills align well with the demands of public sector roles where technical information is turned into real-world policies. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris confirms this alignment with a four-point skills framework for civil servants around the globe:

  1. Policy advice and analysis
  2. Service delivery and citizen engagement
  3. Commissioning and contracting services
  4. Managing complex networks

Public sector careers with doctorates in education can be shaped to your level and area of focus. You can parlay your doctoral research into positions with research institutes that explore the complexities of public administration and policy. Data-driven professionals can directly impact public life as city managers, regulators and department heads.

The demand for skilled professionals in the public sector will increase due to demographics and changing needs. Experienced civil servants in the Baby Boom generation are retiring, leaving opportunities for innovation-minded leaders. New technology and increasingly flexible workplaces will turn the public sector into a welcoming environment for EdD graduates.


Opening Paths to Business Executive Roles

An entrepreneurial spirit and an EdD can set you on the course toward the C-suite. Business executives in the 21st century need to innovate to keep their companies competitive. Innovation expert Joaquim Vila explains why innovation is so important for business leaders:

“How senior executives conduct themselves in situations involving innovation, whether consciously or unconsciously, has a direct effect on the employees’ perception of the values and beliefs they are expected to embrace, and so their actions determine the degree to which the corporate culture is more or less favourable for innovation.”

This top-down influence means soft skills are essential for professionals aiming for executive positions. Gartner found non-technical talents like design thinking, strategic management and adaptability were the most in-demand by employers from 2015 to 2018. A doctorate in education imparts skills needed for dynamic business leaders.

Business careers with a doctorate in education span industries from marketing to healthcare. Established C-suite positions like chief executive officer and chief operating officer are joined by new titles with the evolution of business needs. Robert Half’s 2022 Salary Guide shows the median salaries for executive positions in a sampling of industries:

  • Managing Director for a bank ($240,750)
  • Chief Information Officer for a technology company ($215,750)
  • Chief Marketing Officer for an advertising agency ($205,500)

building a career with doctorate in education


Building Fulfilling Careers with a Doctorate in Education

Spalding University designed its Online Doctor of Education in Leadership for current and future leaders looking to learn while still working. Students complete one course at a time with a typical timeline of two years from first class to graduation. No residency requirement or GRE scores make this degree accessible for professionals ready for a doctoral program.

Spalding University was the first university in the world to participate in the Charter of Compassion. The school’s commitment to the highest standards of leadership is embodied in its 10 Characteristics of an Ethical, Effective Leader from the student handbook:

  1. Ethical
  2. Effective communicator
  3. Self-aware
  4. Scholarly
  5. Empathetic
  6. Problem solver
  7. Innovator
  8. Approachable-yet-influential
  9. Self-confident-yet-collaborative
  10. Conscientious

Doctoral candidates complete eight core courses covering topics from Systems Theory to Creating Cultural Awareness. The capstone project for every candidate involves submitting research on an educational topic to a peer-reviewed journal. Graduates are prepared for the challenges ahead through rigorous examination of theory and practice.


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