Is Instructional Design the Right Career?

This is the last installment of my series on instructional design careers. Links to the rest of the series are at the end of this post. Previously, I’ve talked about the skills instructional designers need and about ideas for finding a job. In this post I want to talk about figuring out if instructional design is a good “fit” as a career. This is less about the skills and more about the desire; it’s about figuring out if someone would be happy working as an instructional designer.

Working Behind the Scenes

In one of my former jobs, I interviewed a lot of candidates for instructional designer openings. A fair number of these candidates were teachers who wanted to change careers, and we always asked those candidates how they would feel not having direct interaction with students. That’s one of the important considerations for teachers and trainers who are used to being up in front of a room full of people. If you’re thinking about a career in instructional design, ask yourself: will I be happy working “behind the scenes” instead of directly with students? If the answer is no, then maybe this isn’t the right fit for you. Of course, there are positions that combine instructional design with student interaction; Wendy Wickham does everything.

Working with SMEs

Working “behind the scenes” doesn’t mean you don’t work with people though. Building relationships with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) is an important part of what we do as well. Knowing how to work with content experts and guide them through the course development process is crucial. Every organization has different expectations for how IDs and SMEs work together, but this is often a close collaborative relationship. If you hate having someone else act as the expert, you probably won’t enjoy being an ID; our job is to be experts on designing the learning, (usually) not experts in the content.

Learning & Using Technology

I won’t belabor the point about technology skills again here since I’ve posted about it previously. However, if you really dislike learning new technology, instructional design probably isn’t a good career fit. Of course, I think everyone in every job needs to learn how to learn at least some technology, but that’s a larger conversation on lifelong learning and literacy.

Always Learning

One of my favorite parts of being an instructional designer is that I am always learning something new. That seems to be a common characteristic of instructional designers; we see the opportunity to continuously learn as a benefit of the job.

Helping Others Learn

To feel fulfilled in a career as an instructional designer, I think you have to enjoy helping people learn. I personally prefer working in the education field because I feel like I am making a difference. Even software training can make people’s lives better in a small way though. The best instructional designers I’ve worked with have been excited by figuring out ways to create great learning experiences. Technology gets us motivated because of the opportunities for learning it creates; design methods and research are tools that make us more effective. Everything revolves around helping people learn. More than anything else, I think that desire to help others learn is what drives the best instructional designers.

If you’re someone considering a career in instructional design, I hope this series has given you some insight on what we do, how we do it, and why we like it.

Other Posts in this Series

  1. What Does an Instructional Designer Do?
  2. Getting Into Instructional Design
  3. Instructional Design Skills
  4. Technology Skills
  5. Professional Organizations and Career Options
  6. Is Instructional Design the Right Career? (current post)

Update: Read all my posts about Instructional Design Careers here.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

121 thoughts on “Is Instructional Design the Right Career?

  1. Thank you for your insight into this new field for me. I’ve been an ELL teacher for 10 years and now am thinking expanding my horizons. All of the criteria you mentioned fit me to a T. I love learning and am excited to think of the possibilities in a different line of work. I’ll still teach while working on my Master’s Program in Instructional Design so I won’t be missing the children quite yet.

  2. Hi Jody,

    I’m glad you found this helpful. After seeing several of your posts on the eLearning Guild forums, I thought this series would have good information for you. You have been asking a lot of great questions, and I’m guessing you’ll come up with more questions as you get further into your master’s program.

    When I first left teaching for corporate training, I taught Sunday school so I still had some interaction with kids. That helped me with the transition. If you have some way to volunteer to work with kids for even an hour or two a week after you stop teaching, I think that can be very helpful.

    Keep asking all those great questions!

  3. could you help me in finding an university to do my diploma in instructional design from Singapore or if not from any other country.
    thanking you for your precious information shared with us.
    waiting for a quick reply.

  4. i need to find an university to do my diploma in instructional design. could you lend a helping hand.
    i think i need to do it in Singapore. if not its ok from any other country.
    by the way thank you for sharing

  5. I don’t know of any programs in Singapore, but there are several 100% online degrees available. I’ve heard good reviews of Indiana University in Bloomington, San Diego State University, and Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. There’s a good post on Tony Karrer’s blog with a number of suggestions for online programs in the comments. I’m more familiar with the US programs, but several of the replies to Tony were for schools in the UK or Canada that might work for you.

  6. I found these posts to be invauable as well as insightful. After teaching secondary English for almost ten years, I became burned out so I became certified to teach elementary school. Teaching fourth grade is a refreshing change and I am enjoying it. However, I eventually want to become an instructional designer. I just hope I can find a full time job and make more money than I do teaching…I’ll hopefully graduate next spring. I am considering a move to a city that has a strong IT field and plentiful instructional design jobs. I would love to hear from current ISDs to gain a better insight. I love being creative as well as teaching…I have average technology skills, but I am learnig a lot in my Master’s program (only 1/3 of the way done)… I need some encouragement folks! Hope to hear from you.

    David

  7. Thank you so much for the kind words, and I’m very happy to hear that this information was valuable to you. I certainly understand feeling burnt out from teaching. You’ve lasted much longer than I did!

    Where are you doing your masters program? Are there areas or topics you’re finding to be especially challenging in the program?
    Do you have a blog where you could share your experiences? I’ve gotten several requests for information on masters programs in ID, so I know people would be interested in learning more (including me). Maybe interacting with people through a blog could give you some of the encouragement you need too.

  8. Hi,

    I am based in India and am working as an Instructional Designer for the last 3 years. I have done a 6 month certification in Instrutional Designing through a distance learning program from one of the institutes in India itself.

    What is my chance of getting the job of an instructional designer in the US? Is my experience in the field alongwith the certification sufficient for me to secure a job in the same profile in the US.

    Any guidance or suggestion will be highly appreciated.

    Thanks

  9. Kamal,

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any personal experience with H1-B visas or people moving to the US for jobs. I have worked with some great Indian instructional designers, but they were all based in Mumbai and Bangalore. I do know that a number of job listings specify that they are unable to sponsor visas, so that does make it more difficult.

    That said, your prior experience and certification are both assets. If you haven’t already joined LinkedIn to start networking, I recommend doing so. Even if everyone you’re directly connected to is in India, your second- and third-level connections might be in the US. Try posting your resume on the eLearning Guild job board too; that’s how I found my current job.

    Creating an online portfolio would also help set you apart from others in the field (including me!). That would be a great way to demonstrate that quality of your work.

  10. Hi Christy,

    Thanks a lot for your guidance. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to my queries. I will follow your suggestion and keep my fingers crossed for something to work out.

    Thanks again🙂
    Kamal

  11. I found the information to be of real help to me as I am also thinking of shifting from teachin to ID. Will I be able to get into this field with 8 yrs of teaching experience? Thank you for all the explanation about ID,especially to a beginner like me. I would like to know about training programmes in ID given by Indian institutes.

  12. 8 years of teaching experience on its own without any specific instructional learning (formal or informal) might not be enough. The teaching experience is beneficial, certainly, but it isn’t enough on its own. Completing a training program, as you mentioned, would be an excellent idea though.

    Unfortunately, I’m not at all familiar with programs in India. You might try some of the Indian instructional design blogs; they would be more likely to have the information you need.

    Rupa at One Stop Resource for Instructional Designing
    Manish at Life, the Universe, and Everything about Learning and Content Development
    eCube, a group blog

  13. Hi, Christy. Read all of your posts on Instructional Design and loved them. I am currently enrolled in a Master’s degree program in Educational Technology at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. The person who was asking about taking a course in Singapore on instructional design might check out http://www.webster.edu I am mainly taking classes that require going to campus, but this degree could also be done on-line as well, and I know there are people in it from around the world. Webster also has worldwide campuses.

    All the terms you referred to are ones I will be learning. I want to be a corporate trainer. Have done technical writing and training, and am an SME, but have never been given the formal title or credit for it. The skills needed are also ones I have taken or will be taking – Photoshop, Desktop Publishing, Instructional Design, Flash, etc.

    One comment on ASTD. Became a member once and attended several meetings. Did not feel comfortable with this group. Unless you are among the top-ranked in this field my gut feeling was they don’t value you as much. They also changed all their meetings to the daytime, which I cannot make.

  14. Thanks for the suggestion of Webster, Jean. It sounds like you are getting experience with a lot of practical applications in your program.

    I’d never heard of ASTD having that kind of attitude. I wonder if that was an issue with the particular chapter in your area or if it’s more widespread. I have much more personal experience with the e-Learning Guild, but I do know that people have had positive experiences with other ASTD chapters. Daytime meetings can be hard; when I did corporate training, I could never attend them either.

    Perhaps the St. Louis chapter of ISPI would be a better fit for you. It might be worth checking out.

  15. Thanks a ton for this informative post. I am a corporate trainer who develops a lot of content. I was planning on taking a course on ID so that I have professional certification and also learn some of the theory in ID that I am not aware of.
    Your post has strenghtened my resolve that the course will be helpfull

  16. @Prabha, I’m glad this post was helpful. Where are you planning to take your ID course? I’ve had people ask me before about training programs, but I’m not really familiar enough with anything outside the US to direct anyone to good programs. I’d love to know where you’re going to get your certification and why you chose that particular program.

  17. I have done 2 month course in ID but couldnt join the ID field due to my previous business which i could not leave its about 1 year 2 months since the course has been done. I participated well liked the course have been certified as ID. Can i join this field now? If so what can i expect as Salary In India or abroad? I have PG as education qualification. Would like your replies in my mail.
    Have other queries need your personel guidance.

  18. I am planning to pursue masters in instructional technology. I have no experience in teaching but i have been working as a graphic designer for over 3 years.
    Do you think this is the right program for me?

  19. If instructional technology is what you’re passionate about and you’re happy with the program, then it’s probably the right choice. Honestly, I don’t feel like I have anywhere near enough information about you to make a judgment about whether the program is right for you or not. There’s simply too many variables: your learning style, your goals for your career, the balance in your life, the quality of the program…

    Even if I knew all those variables, I wouldn’t be comfortable giving more than a suggestion or recommendation. Ultimately, I think that has to be a personal decision.

    • Fantastic Christy! I guess your suggestions and the posts have been extremely useful to this community…many thanks!

      Sriram

  20. Hi Christy,

    The information you provided is valuable. I am a seasoned instructional designer and currently working as a Project Manager in the Learning & Development division of an MNC. It is very unfortunate that in India, many univiersities do not have a formal degree program in ID. However, for those who are really interested in making a career in ID, I would personally recommend the two year master’s degree program in Educational Technology offered by SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai. Please contact det@sndt.ac.in for further details.

    Regards,
    Ram

  21. Hi Christy,

    Thank you so much for the valuable information about ID. I have not planned my career as an ID so for.. But i happened to get an offer as ID in an MNC.. i have finished my UG and diploma in Multimedia ( includes photo editing and video softwares ) and Diploma in Maya animation and web designing and development.. but i dont have any experience in any job till date.. i had my own business ( photo studio ) where i used to work only on photoshop and adobe premiere..
    Basically i am an artist.. i do variety of paintings ( oil,actylic, glass and traditional paintings of india ).. I also have passion for teaching students though not experienced..
    I love learning a lot…
    Do all these qualifications of mine are enough to be as an ID in that company.. they gave an offer only as a trainee in ID for 2 months and i have to start doing of my own from the third month.

    What are the other things i have to concentrate to be a successful ID?
    I would love to have your suggessions or advices.

    akila.

  22. Hi Christy,

    One more question is that.. will they teach me from the day one everything about ID?
    It is a company which develops ebooks or elearning tools for k-12 students.
    After reading lots of information om ID i love to be an ID in that company.. but want to improvise myself for that.. thatz why i am in need of your suggessions.

    Thanks,
    Akila.

  23. Hi ,

    Just wanted to know what abo’ those who would like to start an ID career now? I am already working but as a programmer but signed up for the wavelength course for IDs.. awaiting my cerfs.. but wanted a inside info on would companies be willing to recruit someone with just a cerf on ID? What would be the basic requisities to be added to a resume before searchign for ID jobs?.Any help would be great!

    Regards,
    Divya

    • @Divya, whether you can get a job as an ID with just a certificate probably depends on your prior experience. If you’re looking for something that covers the entire instructional design cycle, then employers will look for writing experience and experience developing training materials. Manish Mohan explains, “But honestly, as a manager who has had to recruit for ID, I look for prior experience, and if there is no prior experience, I look for their core writing skills and ability to learn.”

      Because your background is as a programmer though, I wonder if you might find it easier to break into the field as an instructional developer, focusing on the technical aspects of Flash programming & multimedia development for content designed by others.

      You might also look at the posts in response to this month’s Learning Circuits Big Question on new skills for learning professionals for other skills to help you get a job.

  24. Im working in a MNC as ID, currently i have 1.5 years experiance, i wish to be in the company for more than 3 years, currently im drawing 1.7lks P.A,
    what will be my salary after 2 years.

  25. This is a fantastic series, thank you so much! I’ve been teaching ESL for the last 12 years, and some of my experience in the field has been related to online learning. I am quite interested in pursuing ID, and your articles have been such a help. Thank you!🙂

  26. Hey Christy!

    Sooooo glad I came across your blog. Very excited. I finally know what to call and how to pursue the career I’ve known for some time was my ‘calling’. ID is exactly what I want to do and this blog is really helpful for someone who, like myself, needs a little push in the right direction. Thank you.

  27. Hi

    Thanks a lot. I found the info extremely useful. I am into technical writing for almost 2 years and have enjoyed this field. I am looking to become a highly skilled instructional designer and always look for useful resources.

    Thanks again.

  28. hai,
    I would like to join as instructional designer in some E-learning companies.but i don’t know how to search jobs in that field.
    can you please help me out in searching jobs in that field?.thank you

  29. Hi Christy-

    Thank you for this insightful information.

    I am currently a grad student in the Instructional Design and Technology field at Walden University. For many years, I struggled with what I wanted to be “when I grew up”. After several years in the workforce, I found a job as an administrative assistant at a community college. I found that I love the field of education, so much so, that I decided to go back to school. I first finished my associate degree in 2006, my bachelor degree this past August (09), and started on a M.S. this past September (09). Like you, I enjoy learning new things.

    The turning point for me, when I decided that I really wanted to stay in the field of education, was when I was asked to develop training material for a new ERP software application our college implemented. I really enjoyed developing the training material, and I enjoyed conducting one-on-one training with fellow employees. That is when the light bulb went on, so to speak, and I found the direction I wanted to go with my career.

    As I read your post, it further confirmed that I am in the right field for me. I love learning and technology, and I love helping others learn new things. As an administrative assistant, I always work behind the scenes, and that is where I prefer to be.

    In this article, you mention the need for continuous learning in the instructional design field. It would seem that continuous learning is fast becoming a requirement of many fields. My husband has worked in the information technology field for a decade. That field also requires continuous learning. I have also found, through my own experiences, that even the office administration field requires continuous learning. As Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty” (Quote Garden, 2009).

    Thank you again for the insightful information.

    Reference:

    Quote Garden. (2009). Quotations about learning. Retrieved November 8, 2009, from http://www.quotegarden.com/learning.html.

    • I definitely agree that lifelong learning is a requirement for every field. It used to be that you could graduate, get a job, and never have to do major retraining for the rest of your career. But the world changes too fast for that now. There is just more to learn in every field.

      I think that’s actually a good sign for the future of instructional design though; people clearly will continue to need learning, maybe even more than in the past. We have to work to keep ourselves relevant, of course, and I don’t think that everything we do will continue to be discrete courses, but there are ample opportunities for creating and supporting learning.

      I do, however, think that instructional designers spend more of their time learning than people in most other fields. We have to be good at picking up content quickly and without great materials, since we’re the ones making those great learning experiences. Instructional designers have to be more responsible for their own self-directed learning.

  30. Hello Christy,
    Thanks for the excellent information. I am currently an admin assistant in the medical field looking for a more fulfilling occupation. I found a job description here at my hospital that set my mind on fire… and guess what it was? Yes, it was a posting for an education specialist and it listed a degree in instructional design as a preference.

    My question is, since I currently don’t have an undergrad degree and would like to pursue a career as an instructional designer, what do you think would be the best major to pursue? I checked out the local university in town and they have an education major, but it seems to only focus on elementary & secondary education, which I’m sure I don’t want to pursue… I’m not a “stand up in front of the class” kind of person, but could do it occassionally if I needed to. I’m also very interested in medicine in the informatics kind of way. I would love to be able to get that job, but right now I don’t have what it takes. Any suggestions on how to start?
    Thanks very much

    • I’ve known instructional designers with a pretty wide range of degrees, so I think you could be successful with just about any background in your bachelor degree. It doesn’t sound like the education is a good fit for you, so pick something else that you’re passionate about. Is there a health care related degree at your local university that interests you? IT is a good choice as a background before doing instructional design. Communication or psychology would probably be good too. A general business degree wouldn’t be bad either–you’d have a lot of practical knowledge to be able to talk to people in different corporate environments.

      Mostly, I think you should study something that excites you. Whatever you’re passionate about will be more motivating, and then you’ll have that background to combine with a masters in instructional design when you go to look for a job down the road.

  31. Pingback: Comment Challenge Catch-Up « Experiencing E-Learning

  32. wonderful explanation, my passion is teaching

    am a Informational Technology Engineering grad, planning to do a masters now, have chosen MBA.
    and planning to do a research in Instructional designing.

    can you suggest some top notch places to do a research on instructional designing ?

    • I’m afraid I’m really not familiar with good MBA schools, especially those that would support research in instructional design. Check out Indiana University and San Diego State University; they both have good instructional design masters programs and might be big enough to support MBA research.

      • Oh sorry christy my mistake, let me put it in better format,

        i plan to do masters and do a PHD in instructional designing.

        now and then i wonder whether MBA is the right career path for me because i am going to end up with PHD in instructional designing, but use to have a feeling that it might be useful in later broadening the scope for me to enter into different subjects (i would like to hear your comments on this)

        so i wanted your suggestion on the universities which provide instructional designing at its best (besides the fact that getting the best of what has been provided to us purely dependent on the individual)
        so i can inquire them about the acceptance of a person with this kind of background, if they dont i would change my masters to what they require me to do.

        and posting it here so as to get a feedback from people all around the world.

        so if anybody have any information which can help me, i request you to put it through here.

        • If you just want to work as an instructional designer, you don’t need a PhD. If you want to be a CLO someday, then an MBA is a good choice. See this discussion on advanced degrees, for example.

          I’m afraid I’m not really sure what programs are best for a PhD; I just don’t know that many people who have that degree. Try asking in LinkedIn groups like the eLearning Guild. You might be able to get a wider range of opinions that way.

  33. Thanks for this blog. It was been helpful as I’m researching careers. I’m currently a newspaper journalist but am wondering whether I should find a new career. I think instructional design has many of the same skills that news reporting has — interviewing experts, writing and multi-media presentations. Is that an accurate assessment? You wrote that many people in instructional design come from an education/training background and I’m surprised more news reporters haven’t taken the plunge and gone into instructional design. Have you heard of any making the transition?
    Also, I’m concerned about long-range propositions. While newspapers are shedding staffs (and some papers are even closing doors, unable to eek out a profit), I wondering if there is a strong future in instructional design? I’m don’t want to transition from one dying profession to another… Are instructional design jobs being outsourced to places such as India?
    Thanks!

    • I agree that the skills overlap between journalism and instructional design. The one major piece that you’re missing as a journalist is understanding how people learn and the instructional strategies to make that more efficient. One of my current coworkers has a masters in journalism/communication, but I don’t believe she ever worked as a journalist. I’ve never known anyone who has made that transition, but I don’t see why you couldn’t.

      Regarding the long-term job prospects, I think they are relatively good. Yes, some jobs are being outsourced to India. I’ve worked with some great Indian instructional designers. A lot of the work that is outsourced seems to be the lower-level software tutorial work which doesn’t require as much creativity. My personal prediction is that we’ll continue to see some work outsourced, especially basic instructional design, but that overall we’ll see moderate growth. A lot of that growth will be contract/freelance work, not salaried positions, so if you’re looking for a field where you’re sure to get a permanent job I don’t think this is a good fit.

      I did write about the demand for instructional designers last September. I wish the numbers were a bit better, but at least it gives you an idea.

  34. Your website has become a priceless addition to my personal collection of information as I begin earning my master’s in ID. As I read sites, blogs and books at times I get overwhelmed by all of the information. But this series you created is so concise and to the point and it makes me constantly think about my future and it I am suited for a career in ID. As I get more involved in my studies I am now being faced with several learning theories and how knowledge of them plays a role in ID. I would love to hear your thoughts on how big of a role you think they play.
    Maybe because I have worked in the education field for over 10 years I have grown accustomed to different learning styles and their importance. But do you just make assumptions about the kind of people who choose to learn online, or by their career choice, or do you just design things in a way that touch on several different styles at once? Thank you for your input!

    • I was taught learning styles during my education degree program, and I continued to use them as an instructional designer. I generally used the approach you mentioned of providing instruction via multiple paths to cover everyone.

      However, as I’ve dug into the learning styles research more, I’m no longer so confident that designing for learning styles is really the best use of my time and effort. The Bunchberry & Fern post Learning Styles: Fable-ous and Tragic has some healthy skepticism about learning styles.

      As for the learning theories, Wendy Wickham explains: “How I use theory – selling my instructional design ideas.” I feel like it also does guide my design decisions; I tend to mostly be constructivist, so I tend towards more active learning. Check out the discussion around Theory vs. Application in Instructional Design: One Academic’s View (Wendy’s quote comes from the first comment).

  35. Hi Christy,
    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog!

    Your writing really helps one to understand the field of Instructional designing better and what an ID job profile entails.

    I am currently in Mumbai and completing my Master of Educational Technology with computer applications (MET-CA).

    I have completed my Master of Education and realised that I had a strong inclination toward learning new technology especially to enhance the teaching-learning process. I find the ID field really wonderful, and yes, as you mention,it is challenging yet highly rewarding cause you not only help others learn but you yourself remain a continuous learner…

    Wish you all the best!

    regards,
    Sherry

    I too had a a joyous experience as an assistant catechist at Sunday school and yes that’s probably how I’m going to keep myself in F2F contact with children.(Nothing is as rewarding as nurturing young souls!)

  36. Pingback: Learning Theories and Instruction | Career Path as a Trainer/Instructional Designer

  37. Hey Thanks a Lot. Your Posts are really beneficiary for me. I was in to dilemma what I will do with the degree I get for Instructional Designer.

    But Now I am Confident That This is really the field, where I always want to go.

  38. Hi,

    Your post was very informative. It has thrown light on various aspects related to a career in instructional designing.

    Thanks!

  39. Hi Christy,

    Your information was priceless! Thank you so much for sharing. I already have my Masters in Education Media Design and Technology and some multimedia experience but don’t really know how to market myself. I read above how you suggested to make an online portfolio. Would you recommend a certain software to create this? Do you have any further suggestions on how to market my skills and ability?

  40. Pingback: Instructional Design Portfolio Resources « Experiencing E-Learning

  41. Christy,
    Thanks so much for all your great information and links on Instructional Design. I too have been looking to get out of teaching. I already have my master’s in educational technology, and my favorite class was creating interactive learning programs. This site was invaluable to me in reinforcing that is it the right fit for me. Since my master’s was years ago, I am planning on getting an ID graduate certificate. The program I am looking at uses Adobe Web Premium which looks like a good program to start with since there are many applications in it. I love learning new technology and look forward to pursuing my career in ID.
    Thanks again,
    Kelly

  42. I have been an Instructional Designer for almost 5 years. I stumbled into it as was mentioned in one of the posts. I was a trainer before becoming an ID. I love my job. As I read all of the posts it was as if it was written about me. I use all the software mentioned and perform all of the functions as well. The only thing that gets to you sometimes are the deadlines but that’s the corporate life. I haven’t missed one yet!

  43. Hello there,
    I am an American. I really want to Build an Animation Studio in India. At present i’m hunting for animators. I preferred India due to the fact it is more affordable as compared with U.S. I would like to fully understand the strategies for establishing a small business in India, specifically an animation studio.

    Could you fellas please guide me out?

  44. Hi Christy,

    First, thank you for this excellent blog!

    Can you provide a general salary range for a mid-level Instructional Designer in the US?

    Does payment differ significantly between contract and salaried?

    I realize that starting salaries will be lower until experience is gained. I’m looking at making a career change and want some information on salary before I start a Masters or certificate program and looking for ways to gain experience. I haven’t been able to find even a general estimate so far since most jobs do not reveal salary.

    I currently work in healthcare and have been searching for the past 2 years for a career option that I would enjoy more. ID looks very promising.

    I love to learn and create. While I have no teaching experience I have many, many years experience as a student. That should count for something.😉

    Thanks so much.

  45. Hi,

    I am based in India and am working as an Graphics Designer for the last 12 years. Need to join as a Instructional Designer for that I need to join a 6 month certification in Instrutional Designing through a distance learning program, which institute is best in India.

    guidance or suggestion will be highly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Rajan, Bangalore, India

  46. Hi Christy,
    I have a question for you. I am currently working as technical applications trainer and content developer for UBS US, I am planning to get into instructional design, is ID a right choice for me? what would be the pay package that an ID would get when compared to software developers and other IT people?

  47. Hi Christy,

    I am a Public Relation professional with over 3 years experience. My work involves a lot of content creation in the form of Messaging documents, Campaign plan presentations, Review presentations etc. And my attempt has always been to not follow set templates, but use creative ways to deliver the message. I am interested in becoming an ID. Will my 3 years of communications experience count as I feel I am already doing what an ID does but in a different field. I am also ready to invest time to understand ID technicalities and strategies. Please guide on how should I go about this? Will employers value the experience i have in content creation and client consultancy?

    • Hi Mansi,

      I think your communications background can be relevant. The piece you’re missing is the background on how people learn. This is more than how to persuade, inform, or motivate; there is science behind how to increase comprehension, retention, and behavior change.

      Since you’re willing to put in the time to improve those skills, I think you can be successful. Check out my post on instructional design skills. John Curry’s ID reading list is another good place to start.

      Good luck!

  48. Hi Christy,
    I am so thankful that I came across your blog. I have a M.A. in Special Education and 8 years teaching experience. I am now a stay at home mom and caring for my ill husband. It is not feasible to re-enter the teaching field. I love children, learning, and technology.
    I am not in a financial position to acquire another M.A. as I need to enter the workforce quickly. What is your opinion on a certificate? What about a certificate from a school in India?
    It is my feeling that if my portfolio is outstanding, then it will not matter if the education comes from India or American.
    Thank you for your opinion and advice. This career option is so exciting. It give me renewed hope in providing for my family, while staying home to work and care for everyone.

    God Bless!

    • Leanne, if your portfolio is outstanding, do you even need the certificate? Many instructional design positions request a masters degree in “instructional design, education, or a related field.” You already meet that qualification. I’m doing this with a Bachelors in Music Education; no masters, in instructional design or otherwise. I spend a lot of time on my own learning and improving my skills, but I don’t have the formal credentials.

      You should do a certificate if you feel it will help teach you things you can’t learn on your own and help you build your portfolio. Otherwise, I’m not sure you need it.

  49. Thank you for this series. It’s good to hear in-depth perspective from someone currently in the field. Classes are great for theory and feeling your way around, but knowing what you’re getting into long-term helps a lot. Cheers!

  50. Hi, I am a Post Graduate in Electronic Science and currently (from 2 yrs) working as Information Developer in Bangalore. I am right now involved in creating Self Learning Modules for MBA and MSc subjects for one of India’s reputed distance learning institution. From last 6 months I am also involved in an few ID project and have created SBs and recently created Desing Document. I would like to know whether my experience of writing Self Learning Module will be taken into consideration if I apply for a ID job in other companies? Also please let me know whether my qualification along with ID skills and 2 yrs of experience will help me to get a job in other companies?

    • That experience all sounds good. If you haven’t yet, I would also suggest creating a portfolio of your work, either with screenshots or samples from what you have already created or with some projects you create on your own.

  51. Hi,
    I am graduate in BSc (chemistry), and looking forward to do Diploma in Instructional Design from Symbiosis Pune. I am working as a research analyst in Market research organisation, previously worked in BPO industry for 3 years an now looking forward for stable job. Is ID good for me please suggest a.s.a.p

    • Personally, I think job security is pretty much a myth, so I’m probably the wrong person to ask about whether or not ID will be a stable job or not. I don’t think stable jobs are really a viable goal for the future. I’d suggest instead thinking about what you are good at, what you enjoy, and what skills are in demand. Find what intersects in all those areas and work towards that rather than wasting your energy on the fantasy of stable job.

  52. Hi! I just came across this blog and have been doing a lot of thinking about a career change for a few years now. I am currently a kindergarten teacher wanting to get into more behind the scenes work to apply my 12 years experience and master’s degree. I want to share my knowledge of early learning with others and become an important part of the nation’s push for early learning beginning from birth in the home and in caregiving centers. I am also particularly interested in working with organizations that are involved with designing, assessing, and implementing these early learning efforts. I want to be able to market myself, maybe even as an educational consultant, but am feeling limited to the teaching field without an” official ID title to back me. I really do not want to be an administrator in a school district. I am wondering, with my limited technology designing, that the technology skills I do have may not be enough to consider myself an instructional designer which sounds like an amazing career! On the other hand, I am not sure if I need every class in the program either since I do have a master’s already. Any thoughts?

    • What about doing a graduate certificate through someplace like UW-Stout, San Diego State University, or Bloomsburg in Pennsylvania? That might eliminate some redundancy that you might get with a second masters degree, but it would give you some more official credentials.

  53. Thank you for such a holistic approach of the ID! I was offered to develop this profile in a foreign country and I was quite lost.

  54. Hi, I am an ID and I am not sure where to go after 10 long years in this field. Any suggestions?

    I am good at writing, editing, and managing.

    Thanks!
    Nithya

    • Besides what you are good at, what do you enjoy? What kind of work makes you happiest? Do you ever lose track of time when you’re working, and if so, what kind of work lets you get into that state of “flow”?

      Working your way up in the chain of management to manage IDs is a logical next step after 10 years, but it isn’t your only option. I’ve seen too many people who don’t really like managing people (even if they’re good at it) get into jobs where they aren’t happy just because it’s what they’re “supposed” to do next.

      You might try taking some personality or career tests to see what really appeals to you. It sounds like you’re maybe a little burnt out on ID, so maybe it’s time to look for something new.

  55. First of all, i would like to thank you for this blog. I am interested in pursuing instructional designing course, however i don’t have any experience in it. I was in B.P.O. for a few years and of late have been working as Freelance web content writer.

    I need a full time job and see a good scope in Instructional Design. I would request you to check this institute http://www.techtotal.com where i would be pursuing the course from.

    Is it a good move? Please share your opinion!

    • I’ve never heard of TechTotal, and it worries me that they have such poorly plagiarized content on their website. For example, the information under “What is the job market” is copied from the University of North Dakota. They even left the reference to UND in the quote, so you know they aren’t worried about getting caught stealing content from other sites.

      Here’s the original source they copied much of their description from:
      http://idt.ctl.und.nodak.edu/web_assets/Misc/IDT_Brochure.pdf

      I don’t think a company that is too lazy to write a description of their own program without copying it from someone else is likely to have a very good training program. They may have stolen their course content from good sources, which means there might be some good stuff in there, but obviously they aren’t capable of creating anything new themselves.

      I would certainly stay away from this program.

  56. Thank you so much for bringing it to the notice! So, is there any other institute in India that offers, quality instructional training program?

    Since, i have mentioned my career profile in brief, do you think Instructional designing is a good option for me?

    • Manish Mohan’s post on Getting Started in Instructional Design mentions a few other programs in India, although without any endorsement. I don’t know if any of these are good, but that’s a place to start.

      You mention you’ve been working as a writer, so that’s a good sign as far as enjoying working as an ID.

      Does the description in this post sound like it’s something you’d enjoy and be good at?

  57. Absolutely, i think i would be able to deliver, once i am acquainted with some training. The problem is even though, i am working as freelance writer, i haven’t been required to work on any particular IDs.

    I really appreciate your feedback and knowledge that you have shared. You are doing a fantastic job through this blog in helping the novice. Keep it up!

  58. This is an amazing series Christy. I’m an experienced professional content writer and never had any information about ID except some lines here and there. But this has opened up my mind to something which is exciting and interesting as well.

    Thank you for sharing this invaluable information.

  59. As a corporate trainer, continuous learning is also one of the things I love about training. I have this deep desire to develop high quality training content. I strongly believe that ID is something that I am strongly passionate about. My intention is to acquire the Masters in ID. However, as I have only an Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment, I am attending the Diploma course this year.
    My goal is then to get a degree in ID after that (i.e. early 2014).

    Or is there another alternative to get a degree in ID?

    • Whether or not you need a degree is one of the perennial debates in the field. Personally, I have a Bachelor of Music Education–no masters, no formal instructional design training. Plenty of what I learned in my education degree applies to what I do now, of course, but it isn’t what’s on my diploma.

      Karl Kapp has written at length in the past about the need for degrees for instructional designers. I responded with a post about doing an “informal” masters. There’s good discussion on both of those posts.

      Is it easier to break into the field with a degree? Yes. It’s a more straightforward path, and it’s easy to show your credentials, especially if you go to a good school that gives you lots of practice and the opportunity to create a portfolio. Is it the only path? No, there are plenty of us out here who are “accidental” instructional designers, as Cammy Bean puts it.

  60. Thank you so much for posting this blog. I am a veterinarian and after 15 years of practice I have decided I am ready for a career change. I just finished my first experience in teaching. I offered to teach a course at a small local 2 year college and taught a semester of parasitology to veterinary technician students. I did it on a whim to overcome the fear of public speaking I developed over the years. My assignment was to ‘gut’ the previous course and develop a new approach to teaching this potentially boring subject. Well, I got over my public speaking issues and loved developing the course. A career counselor mentioned that the field of Instructional Design might appeal to me. I have just begun to research the ID career and am excited about the prospect of a move into this field. I feel that it would be a good fit for me. Even though I love the idea of your alternative entry into the field, I believe that a degree program would be best for me since my teaching experience is minimal. My question is about available degree programs. Which programs carry a good reputation in the industry? There are so many advertised online degree options and I find it difficult to determine which “reviews” are actually advertisements!
    Thanks so much for your help!
    Next step: follow all of those links you posted in your blog entries! (and any new ones you can think of🙂
    Jaime Logan

  61. Hi Cristy,

    I have read your posts and they are really interesting. I’m into elearning field since 3yrs. I working as a econtent developer and have worked on tools like Captivate, Articulate and Lectora.
    I aslo do all kind of operation on LMS (moodle).

    I wanted to know that shall i build my career into Instructional Design. As i somehow feel there is good future in ID. I have not done any certification course. I’m planning to take up a certification course. Please guide me.

    Thanks,
    Kavita

  62. Pingback: Reflection | Jessica Vidal - IDT

  63. This was exactly what I needed! I just found out about the “ID” job title yesterday and decided to investigate. You hAve truly given me what I need to decide that this would be a very fulfilling position. The organization of it was well thought out. Thanks again for providing great resources for beginning this journey!

  64. Hi, I just stumbled on this post, after leaning more about my personality after several personality tests with a psychologist. I’m now exploring other options for a career path. Do you think ID is for someone who is creative? I understand you still have to conform to a format/formula/theory when doing ID, and conform to the confinements of the data, obviously, but I’m wondering whether people you’ve worked with in ID are usually creative types? Thanks. Heidi.

    • Yes, there’s lots of room for creativity in ID–coming up with great ideas for practice activities and assessments, using technology in new ways, writing scenarios, designing templates and graphics, and more. Software training tends to have less room for creativity than soft skills training.

  65. Christy! This is the just the type of information I need. I have a masters in English and another in Library and Information Science (from 1999) and am a 20+ year high school English teacher and 51, AND I think I want a change.

    I have been exploring certification programs and masters programs (check http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/670/online-education-for-instructional-designers-picking-the-right-program) and have been told (like you say) that a simple jump from teaching to ID is possible, but I wonder.

    Since we all agree that teaching is simply another form of ID, my real question is do you have a sample of how a teaching resume would be transformed to make it appear that the teacher is a perfect fit (sans the certification or masters)? Is there a website where I could see a few possible transitions from teacher to ID resumes?

    Thanks for a great site! Don

    • Before and after resume revisions is on my list of posts to write someday. I know that doesn’t really help you now though! Perhaps you could search on LinkedIn for instructional designers and see how people describe their past experience. If you look at enough profiles, you’ll see people who used to teach and might get some ideas.

      Take a look at my post on interview questions to get a few ideas about the direction to go.

      Here’s a few tips.

      Anything where you collaborated with others, worked with adult learners, or weren’t the content expert yourself is good. Talk less about standing up in the classroom and teaching and more about writing and designing. Explain how you wrote objectives and developed assessments. Describe how you evaluated whether your teaching was successful or not and what you did to change it. List your technology experience, especially if you’ve worked with an LMS or other standard ID tools.

  66. Hi,
    I completed my batchelor degree and joined in an MNC, in which i’m working as ‘Instructional Designer’. After 3 years of my career, i’m still in dilemma whether i’m on right track or not? Can someone help me.

    • Do you enjoy the work you’re doing? If not, what are the parts you wish would change? Are there parts of your job you do enjoy and find satisfying?

      It’s good to reevaluate your career periodically even if you are happy, so I think you’re really smart to be reflecting on whether or not you’re on the right track.

      Have you ever done a personality or career assessment test? I often find these helpful. In fact, doing a similar test to this is one reason I moved away from corporate training and into instructional design. Try following some of the tips at the link below. If you’d like, you can share the results of your career personality test and we can talk about how well your current job fits you.
      http://www.careerkey.org/choose-a-career/how-to-choose-a-career.html

  67. Hi everyone…Just wanted to share we are a training center for ID, based in Pune, India . This course is for people to want to enter into ID role…We have classroom sessions in Pune, India . Also we have online sessions. Thanks – please do connect for more details – e Knowledge Tree – 9371454527

  68. I am so happy I stumbled across this series of articles. My background is in English and Creative Writing, but I have been considering going back to school to for an MA in ID on an e-Learning track. I currently coordinate a university writing center and have created training guides for instructors and work-study tutors. I enjoy working behind the scenes, especially when it comes to planning, writing, and designing. I’m looking for more insight into learning styles, which I’m hoping I would learn in the MA program I’m considering. I have wondered about the technology requirements of an ID job. I am comfortable with operating systems and basics, like Microsoft Office, Keynote, and Powerpoint, as well as some video editing. Your list of technologies is extremely helpful. Given that this article was written in 2007, I’m wondering if the list is still accurate. Have any other technologies emerged in the field? Also, do you find that most ID employers (schools, businesses) prefer Mac or PC?

    Thank you!

    • Let’s start with the easy question: Most employers are in a Windows environment. Several of the major rapid e-learning development tools (Captivate, Storyline) don’t run effectively on Macs. It’s possible to run them in a Windows parallel environment if you have no other choice, but it’s not recommended.

      I would hope that you would not learn about learning styles in an masters program. I’d much prefer that you spend time learning about ideas supported by actual research and shown to make a significant difference to learners, rather than ones that have been debunked like learning styles. Some quick searching online and on YouTube will find you numerous sources explaining what the research really tells us about learning styles (i.e., there’s no evidence that aligning teaching methods with learning styles improves learning outcomes).

      See my posts on Understanding Learning Styles Research and Revisiting Learning Styles for more information.

      I should update my technology skills post from 2007, but most of it is still relevant. Go to Indeed or another job search engine and see what employers ask for to get a better idea. Although I still think some basic HTML knowledge is helpful, I no longer think it’s critical. I would add Articulate Storyline to the list of tools and rank it much higher than Lectora now. I wouldn’t bother learning Flash nowadays. If you’re very interested in the technical side of things, mobile development is very hot. For someone just getting started in the field, I would recommend starting with one rapid development tool (either Captivate or Storyline, depending on your budget and what is taught in your masters program).

      Make sure that your masters program will help you create a portfolio. A degree without a portfolio makes you about as hireable as someone with no degree and no portfolio. Ask about their job placement rate as well, and compare it to other programs to make sure that graduates are actually working in the kinds of jobs you want to seek out.

  69. I currently have an education degree and I’m thinking of getting a masters degree in distance education; one career option I’ve thought about is becoming an instructional designer. Thank you for all this information- it is extremely useful and helpful!

  70. The fact that 7 years (!!) later after your blog post people are still commenting, shows the quality of your blogposts. Well done! Your line up of skill requirements is clarifying indeed.

    All these typicalities ring true for me. As a bassist, I love the role of “behind the scenes” / supporting others to work to a great common goal. And almost my whole family is into teaching.

    Unfortunately, I have never decided to have an active belief to escape my current profession, freelance webdesign. It has too much focus on keeping clients happy just to make it through the day (and pay…). And 75% of the time it’s about technical details. It’s just stifling. Helping others learn is a much better goal and motivator (for me). At 34 years, it’s time to take my career in the right direction.

    Do you happen to know any Dutch Instructional Designers by chance? I haven’t come across any here yet and I would love to expand my network. I’ve read your post about either become an ID from 1) transitioning from a teaching profession or 2) taking an education in ID. Option 2 it is!

    • I am continually amazed at how popular this series of posts has remained, even 7 years later. This clearly resonates with people, and there are lots of people considering a career change.

      I don’t know any Dutch instructional designers, but I did a quick search on LinkedIn for people with “instructional design” in the Netherlands and got over 2800 results. None of those are my direct connections, but maybe you could repeat that search yourself and make some new connections.

      I have no idea about the education expectations in your country. The UK, for example, tends to be much less interested in people with masters degrees (so much so that it can be a detriment in the corporate world). In the US, most job listings state a preference for a masters degree. If you can find some other Dutch IDs, maybe you can ask about expectations (or at least see what other IDs there have for education themselves).

      I do think that some formal education would be helpful to you in your situation. It’s a more direct path to making the career switch, and it will give you a good foundation to build on.

      I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!

  71. Christy,
    Your blog has been extremely inspiring but also has left me unsure about my future goals. I am a recent graduate with my education degree, but have always been way more interested in the behind the scenes work of curriculum building and development. However, I am fully aware that technology based learning is the future and I am very passionate about implementing technology into the education system. Since I do not have any ID experience, but am interested in the developing of curriculum, what do you think would be a proper path for me? I am Canadian but I am living in Australia teaching. I am keen to learn and up for a challenge.
    Thanks.

    • What options do you have for networking in Australia? In the US we have ATD, but I’m not sure what the Australian equivalent would be. You can also join the eLearning Guild and/or ISPI since those groups are international.

      Since you have an education background, I recommend picking one of the common rapid development tools and learning it. Either Captivate or Storyline would be a good choice depending on your situation. Check the job listings in your area to see if one or the other seems to be preferred. If you’re good at learning software, you can probably learn either on your own with free resources online. You can also find online courses through Lynda.com, Infosemantics, and others.

      Once you’re familiar with one of those tools, build a couple of samples for your portfolio. Especially when you don’t have any actual experience as an ID, your portfolio is how you demonstrate that your educational background is useful and you can actually perform the job tasks.

  72. Hi Christy,

    I am an instructional designer working in India in K-12 division for last four and half years.
    My husband is working with a US telecommunication major and we have to relocate due to project requirements.
    As we have to relocate, I was searching for information on job opportunities as an instructional designer in US.
    I have worked mostly with e-learning companies in school division.
    I have a training background and was involved with facilitator training.
    Also, I would like to add, I don’t have a specific degree in instructional designing.
    I was wondering if you can provide me some information regarding the same.

    Regards
    Shriya

    • I believe K12 Inc is the biggest employer in the online K12 market, although there are other companies. Many states have virtual high schools, so you might check in whatever state you move to.

      You might also be able to find work with an online university. Even community colleges and technical schools sometimes hire instructional designers.

      Check out HigherEdJobs for instructional designer jobs at the college level.
      https://www.higheredjobs.com/

      • Hi Christy,

        I recently began researching ID and so far it seems like a great fit for me. Are there opportunities to work exclusively online from remote locations? If so, how abundant are these jobs?

        • I’ve been working remotely as a consultant for almost 5 years. Prior to that, some of my full time jobs allowed partial or full remote work. It’s easier to find remote positions as a contractor or freelancer, although I did have one salaried full time position that was 100% remote.

          The competition for remote positions can be stiffer than for traditional office work, so you really need a solid portfolio showing your skills.

          The list is a little outdated, but I have some suggestions of companies that hire remote IDs.

  73. Pingback: Career Change: Instructional Design | kara erlandson

  74. Pingback: Changing Landscapes: Instructional Design | Kara Erlandson

  75. You have no idea how useful and inspiring this post and series was for me. I’m still in the early stages of my ID Masters at Roehampton University, London. I was feeling quite de-motivated – but you have given me the fuel to keep going. I just want to say thank you.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s