What is a science content developer?

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Learn how a science content developer can help you craft high-quality content for educational materials and STEM resources..

What is a science content developer?

A science content developer creates or adapts learning materials for students, typically in middle school and high school. The subjects of the materials can range from astronomy to zoology, but some topics are more common than others (for example, biology). Materials may include textbooks, workbooks, videos, original art, lesson plans for educators (sometimes called standards-based curricula), and testing materials. These materials are used by educators who teach science to their students, typically in a classroom setting.

What do they do?

In science content development, science is broken into its disciplinary components and those components are organized into a curriculum. The science content developer will identify what information needs to be taught as part of the science standards, as well as how it should be taught. Science content developers create materials that meet this need, which means developing content in a way that is accessible to students at their grade level and also addresses the science standards they must learn for state testing requirements. After science content has been created, it’s always tested for effectiveness before being released to educators.

What skills do science content developers need?

Science content developers must be science experts. They also have a wide variety of skills that they use to develop science content: scientific knowledge, writing expertise, instructional design skills, art and science illustration skills, visual literacy/graphic design skills, technology chops (for science education that leverages the web), an understanding of the latest educational research on how students learn science best…the list goes on. In general, science content developers are “science generalists” who typically do not have degrees in science education or science teaching. Instead they may have degrees in sciences such as biology or environmental studies or geology or physics. Some science content developers will also have arts and humanities backgrounds as well. And many science content developers combine a science degree with science education coursework and/or science teaching certification.

Where does science content development take place?

There is no one location for science content developers because they work at a variety of different institutions, including universities, museums, nonprofits, and even K-12 schools. The majority of science content developers work outside the classroom in research positions or as science departments within publishing companies. However, an increasing number of science content developers are working to bring their products into the high school classroom by developing professional learning opportunities for educators to use them.

Science Content Developer Jobs

Science Content Developers can be found in every community and in a variety of industries. Science education jobs may be available at colleges or universities offering bachelor’s degrees up through doctoral degrees in science education, science departments at publishers or at science nonprofits. You might also come across science content developers working for assessment companies who provide science-aligned tests and materials. Other science content developers may work within school districts to develop science learning materials that meet the state science standards.

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Science Content Developers are employed by colleges or universities with science education programs  or departments; school systems, publishing companies (trade and educational), science centers, non profit organizations (e.g., astronomy associations), government agencies (NASA, NOAA); independent contractors who serve as consultants to these types of institutions; independent small business owners starting their own consulting firms; K-12 schools; assessment companies.

Types of Jobs 

Teaching jobs: A large number of science content developers work in science education inside the classroom, either in schools or universities. These science educators teach science courses, they may be science department chairs or science program coordinators or science curriculum specialists.

Non-teaching jobs:  Although science content developers often have teaching experience, these are not always required for this profession.

Science centers  and museums  are great places for science content developers to find jobs that allow them to develop STEM resources and educational learning materials that meet standards while also being fun and engaging. Science centers are non-profit organizations that promote public interest in science by providing informal STEM experiences through exhibitions and outreach programs, including traveling exhibits. Museums host exhibitions on topics of cultural history where science is often interwoven with the displays.

Science publishers  or science departments at educational publishing companies are responsible for science textbooks, professional development courses and science workbooks. These science content developers focus on developing age-appropriate science education materials that support state standards

Nonprofit organizations  focus on providing information to the public through science outreach programs (e.g., astrology associations) or research projects (e.g., Smithsonian). Science content developers often work in science education jobs for these organizations, creating science activities or STEM resource for their outreach programs. Some nonprofits maintain educational websites where science content developers create engaging learning modules, helping visitors learn about the topics they cover through interactive webpages.

Salary Range of a Science Content Developer 

$25,857- $134,893 per year.

The average starting salary for a new college graduate with a Bachelor’s degree is typically around 55K to 57K. Depending on the type of science content development job you plan to hold titles in your career path will determine how much money you can expect to receive. An elementary school teacher makes an average of between 42-60k while someone working at NASA may make 120k or more per year.

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About Author

Ramya Sriram manages digital content and communications at Kolabtree (kolabtree.com), the world's largest freelancing platform for scientists. She has over a decade of experience in publishing, advertising and digital content creation.

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