This post is part of a series about instructional design careers. I’ve been asked by a number of people how to get into this field, and these posts are largely collected from my email responses to those questions.
One question I’ve gotten a few times is about professional organizations for instructional design to help people network while job searching.
The eLearning Guild
The eLearning Guild isn’t just for instructional designers, but there do seem to be a fair number of IDs involved. If you’re interested in learning more about e-learning, this is one place to start. The lowest level of membership is free, and that gets you a newsletter plus access to their resource directory, forums, and some research. I can personally vouch for their job boards as well; that’s how I found my current position. (OK, I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and it doesn’t always work that well. Still, it’s free, so you might as well post if you’re looking.)
In the U.S. (sorry international readers), the American Society of Training and Development is another useful organization for professional development, networking, and job searching. Membership is a bit expensive, but you can use their job boards for free and some of their resources are open. I admit that I personally have never really used ASTD that extensively, but I know that other people have found them very beneficial.
In my personal experience, it seems like more instructional design jobs are contract than salaried; that may be more a function of what’s posted on the big online job boards though. Many instructional designers prefer to do contract work; it gives them flexibility and variety they wouldn’t find in a permanent position. I was lucky and found a permanent position, but my guess is that if you’re switching careers it may be easier to do a short contract or two to gain experience before you can get something full-time.
Many of the full-time positions are in the corporations. Businesses need the training and are more likely to have dedicated training departments where instructional designers have a place in the process. Larger companies are also more likely to have a budget to do more extensive e-learning. Some positions are a combination of instructional design and classroom training.
Other positions are in higher education. The big for-profit universities all use instructional designers, but smaller universities are starting to use instructional designers as well.
E-learning vendors hire instructional designers as well. My personal experience doesn’t include this area, but I know these positions exist. Some publishers use instructional designers and others with similar skills to develop their online content, so those are other places to explore for job opportunities.
Other Posts in this Series
- What Does an Instructional Designer Do?
- Getting Into Instructional Design
- Instructional Design Skills
- Technology Skills
- Professional Organizations and Career Options (current post)
- Is instructional design the right career?
Update: Read all my posts about Instructional Design Careers here.