Conception, design and editing of educational material

When we look back on our own school days, almost every one of us remembers the logos of well-known textbook publishers. But due to the onset of the Covid pandemic, a broader range of teaching materials now comes to mind, including formats suited for online teaching or self-study. These are produced not only by school book editors, but a vast number of companies in the field of education. From (in)formal learning environments to child, adolescent or adult education, innumerable apps, websites, games and other formats constantly invite us to educate ourselves.

The job market for the procution of educational material is as broad as the range of possible educational contexts. The most well-known and typical way of getting starting in this occupational field is a position as an editor at a school book publisher.

The main job of an editing staff in one of these publishing houses is the didactic conception of printed and digital educational material for schools, meaning its production and proof-reading. Editors work together with specialized authors who have the necessary expertise in a certain subject. The latter usually work part-time, are qualified in the educational sectors and supervised by the trained editors. Therefore, school book editors do not work as authors primarily (unlike editors in other media settings, such as newspaper, etc.), but more as a mix of proof-reader and author. Another important task is coordinating departments, such as the graphic, legal or distribution teams. In addition, the educational material has to comply with education policies and be audited by the ministeries of education. Due to the close correlation with schools specifically, these publishing companies often demand a degree in an education and first-hand experience teaching in order to be hired as an editor. Getting a start in this field can be achieved through young talent programs at the publishing houses themselves, who offer inter- or trainsheeps and working student positions. These are especially advisable for those who do not have a degree in education, but are still interested in the field.

From vocab-apps to simulation games to company workshops - huge market for educational material

The market for educational material goes far beyond classic school book publishers. Bigger companies run their own e-teaching websites for their employees, NGOs develops their own didactic concepts for school visits or companies design materials used to influence teaching, which can therefore even be considered a form of lobbying. In addition to this, one must take educational apps, games, podcast, how-to videos, quiz formats and tests into account, that may assist in learning new vocabulary, math formulas or how to play a musical instrument. Start ups offering training material for company workshops are also part of this market.
This range of options can make orientation in this field difficult. There are no universal position titles or means of job research. From teaching material design to manager, content creator, editor, project manager - all are possible positions in this field. The demands and requirements for each position vary depending on the given context. Since employers  working in private or non-school contexts do not have to regard official education policies, entry is often possible here without a teaching degree.

However, didactic experience as a trainer or tutor, as well as editing skills are usually beneficial. In addition to the actual editorial work and production of education material, tasks such as communication and distribution networking, market analysis, participation in educational fares and presentation and marketing are frequent, depending on context. In addition to subject expertise in the specific field, knowledge in graphic design, test development, video or podcast production, as well as web and app technologies, databanks and CMS or E-learning systems is helpful. Experience in project management is also often useful, since - especially in smaller start ups - the entire production process from market analysis to product development to distribution must be organized, as well as budgeting and staffing.

Those interested in this field should try to get a sense of the market of educational providers and search for jobs directly on their websites. Big school book publishers run their own job listings on their homepages. Another place to look is the " Verband der Bildungsmedien" and participants of bigger educational fares.

Frau im Gespräch

Marion Kiffe

works at the English editorial office of Cornelsen Verlag Berlin

Typical tasks

Possible places of employment