The Size of U.S. Education

How big is the education industry?

One way to understand the size of the education industry is to look at the amount of money spent or generated on an annual basis for various segments of the industry. This helps provide a perspective on just how big the education industry is and how the group of education companies serving the digital learning market fit into the overall picture.

If you add up all the annual funding and revenue going to schools, from K–12 through graduate school, plus all the revenue generated by all the for-profit and nonprofit education companies, the aggregate size of the education industry is the second largest industry on earth, second only to healthcare – also second to healthcare in the United States.

Not all estimates agree on the total size of the education industry worldwide, but many estimates peg it at around $4.5 trillion annually. A fairly significant portion of the vendors in the online and digital learning segment fall into either the digital content or textbook segments.


Size of education industry

  • $4.5 trillion – Worldwide
  • $1.4 trillion – United States
  • $670 billion – U.S. K–12


Supplier spending

Overall U.S.

  • $14.0 Billion – >Textbooks
  • $8.4 billion – U.S. Digital content & tools non-hardware
  • $2.5 billion – U.S. Testing & assessment

U.S. K–12

  • $8.0 billion – K-12 textbooks (and shrinking)
  • $10.2 billion – K–12 hardware & associated spending
  • $380 million – K–12 learning management systems & platforms

Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning report – 2015