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How to Become an Education Program Manager

A smiling person raises their hand during an education program in a workplace.

Teacher, principal, professor—these are probably the first roles people think of when considering careers in education. However, education isn’t only pursued in a school or college. Education program managers work in businesses, health care organizations, and government agencies as well as academic settings to produce educational experiences such as workplace trainings and seminars.

Education Program Manager Job Duties

An education program manager’s main role is to produce educational experiences through collaboration with clients. They plan, organize, and coordinate education programs. For example, the federal government’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) offers continuing education programs for health-care professionals. One program teaches health-care leaders the principles of informed consent and how to remove patient communication barriers. Lorman, on the other hand, is an independent business that offers continuing education programs for professionals working in human resources, law, accounting, construction, banking, and more.

While each program is different, education program managers complete similar tasks in each setting. Throughout the process, a manager will:

  • Oversee the project team
  • Meet with the client to assess the progress of the program
  • Analyze the success of the program
  • Strategize how to implement new programs and enhance current programs
  • Aid in creating the organization’s training strategy
  • Recruit and hire new team members
  • Develop the program’s communications to internal and external audiences
  • Track the budget

An example of a current education program is Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Small Businesses training. This program trains entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

To implement a program like this, an education program manager would first meet with leaders at the company and discuss the outreach initiative. Next, they would strategize the content and implementation of the program, including the marketing efforts to get individuals enrolled. The manager would then delegate tasks to their team, track progress and report it to leadership, and ensure they were staying on budget. Finally, they would continue to monitor the program’s progress, revisiting it with enhancements when necessary.

Education Program Manager Job Requirements

The education program manager position often requires education beyond a bachelor’s degree. It also calls for experience in a relevant field and a specific skill set.

Education

An education program manager often holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in a relevant field. The most common undergraduate degrees for an education program manager include business administration, education, and human resources, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Many education program managers continue on to earn a master’s in education, or a related field.

Experience

Hands-on experience in a relevant field can help aspiring education program managers learn how to implement and manage complex programs across institutions and organizations. For example, an education program manager can start their career in human resources, in teaching, or as a training and development specialist. They can then work their way up to a team management position and finally the education program management role.

Skills

A successful education program manager develops and maintains specific skills. These include:

  • Communication. A professional in this role must be able to clearly and concisely deliver information to a variety of audiences.
  • Collaboration. Interpersonal skills are necessary for working with staff, clients, organizational leaders, and trainees.
  • Decision making. Selecting and creating education programs that fit an organization requires well-thought-out decisions.
  • Leadership. A person in this role must be able to effectively oversee and direct a team.
  • Instruction. The education program manager must understand the concepts of teaching to help develop education programs.
  • Critical thinking. An individual in this position must be able to assess and analyze current programs and know when and how to implement changes when necessary.

Education Program Manager Work Environment

Education program managers work in many fields and industries, including academia, business, government, health care, and nonprofit organizations. They work with large corporations, national nonprofits, city school districts, state human resource departments, and hospitals. They can be hired either through an agency or for an in-house position.

For example, the education research and program development company McREL International contracts to audit and create programming for individual schools and school districts. Other businesses provide workshops on demand and aren’t hired out by one specific business—Lorman is an example of this. Even still, some education program managers work within a company, like a hospital, developing programs for that one organization to use internally.

Most often, education program managers work in an office setting. However, they travel to on-site locations, running in-person education sessions. For example, if the manager works in a hospital setting with multiple locations, they might travel between hospitals to oversee the implementation of a new education program or training at each site.

Job Outlook and Salary for Education Program Managers

As the need for training programs in organizations continues to grow, so does the growth of this field. According to the BLS, the number of jobs for education program managers is expected to grow by 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, largely due to increasing demand for continuing education programs. This equates to 3,700 openings in this field each year, much more than the national average for other careers. The median salary for education program managers is $113,350, according to the BLS.

Prepare for a Career as an Education Program Manager

Holding a graduate degree is often a requirement for the education program manager role. American University’s Online Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership prepares students to become education leaders who create change. Through courses like Educational Leadership and Organizational Change students gain the analytical, management, and leadership skills they need to further social justice issues and create change at any organization. Visit American University’s Online MEd in Education Policy and Leadership program to learn more about how it prepares graduates to work in a wide variety of professional settings.

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