Teacher Professional Development Market

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Teacher Professional Development Market Size

The market size for professional development in K-12 education in the US ranges from $4.1 billion to $18 billion annually. Public schools spend more on professional development than private schools do.

Market Size and Growth Rate

  • Forbes reports that the professional development market for K-12 education is worth $18 billion annually.
  • However, other reports offer a much lower amount, $5.71 billion in 2020.
  • According to Statista, in 2020, "an estimated 4.1 billion U.S. dollars will be spent on external providers of professional development for K-12 education in the United States."
  • In 2019, this amount was $3.9 billion, up from $3.7 billion in 2018, $3.5 billion in 2017, $3.4 billion in 2016 and finally $3.2 billion in 2015.
  • Using a CAGR calculator, from 2015 to 2020, or a period of five years, beginning with $3.2 billion in 2015 and ending with $5.71 billion in 2020, the CAGR of the professional development market for K-12 educators in the US is 12.28%.
  • Other reports, however, estimate the growth rate much lower, at around 4%.

Private and Public Split

  • According to Independent School Management, an industry group for non-public schools, most private schools as of 2011 allocated 1% of their total operating budget for professional development for teachers, which was 50% less than the recommended amount (2%).
  • Public school teachers are more likely to participate in professional development opportunities annually than private school teachers.
  • A research review released in 2003, but which contained studies from 1987-2001, found that public schools spend between 2-4% of their total budget on professional development


  • Areas of focus for professional development include technology and topical content areas. Professional development for educators is becoming increasingly personalized.
  • Different providers of professional development include independent consultants, instructional materials providers, foundations and associations, as well as others. However, the market shares for these providers were hidden behind paywalls.
  • A 2016 report found that "in-person workshops and annual meetings" are the most common forms of professional development, however, online formats are quickly increasing in popularity. In fact, 78% of professional development opportunities at that time consisted of a mix of in-person and online learning (i.e. blended instruction).
  • A 2003 research review (mentioned above) found that 35% of a district's professional development budget goes to purchasing the professional development opportunity/curriculum, while another 35% is used to pay the teachers for their time spent in professional development.
  • While some spending for professional development is organized by strategically outlined professional development departments or leaders, many of the spending decisions are not centralized and not part of an overall strategy for professional development.
  • As of the 2003 research review, between 69-87% of professional development funds were spent on training and coaching, 4-21% on compensating teachers for their time and paying for substitute teachers, 2-7% on administration (i.e. organizing professional development opportunities), 3-8% on the materials, equipment or facilities necessary for professional development, 1-3% on travel/transport, and 0-1% on professional development tuition or conference fees. These percentages varied widely by region, thus the range of percentages for each category.
  • Large school systems may spend more on professional development for teachers than smaller school districts. A study from 2015 of three large districts in the US found that spending on professional development per teacher amounted to $18,000 per year.
  • A study of spending from 2011-2012 found that the most common topic of professional development was subject-area content, followed by technology instruction, reading instruction, student discipline/classroom management, and finally teaching specific sub-groups of students like ESL students or students with disabilities.

Research Strategy

The research team worked to provide a well-rounded view of the professional development market for K-12 education in the US. At times, reports were conflicting. When this occurred, the research team included all reports found in order to provide the most thorough review. It seems that much of this conflict comes over what is classified as professional development, as there is no universally accepted definition.

In looking for how professional development funds are allocated and the split between public and private schools, the research team first looked for national, up-to-date statistics from well-known sources, like the National Center for Education Statistics. However, these statistics did not break down spending on professional development, instead classifying it as part of "purchased services." Therefore, the research team had to move to older and less standardized studies, included above.

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