Also known as: an ID; instructional systems designer or ISD
Instructional designers work in business, government and non-profit settings in the fields of online education, distance learning, e-learning, training, etc. Within educational settings, instructional designers work at the K-12, high school, college and adult education level; however, college is common.
Job Description of an Instructional Designer:
Instructional designers, in short, use learning principles to develop educational systems and materials. At the center of instructional designers’ jobs are the responsibilities to develop the appearance, organization and functionality of learning systems.
Now, what type of systems, for whom, at what level and how this is done all vary greatly among instructional design jobs. Many instructional designers work in e-learning, perhaps converting in-person teaching materials into online courses. Others may work in developing training for corporations. Each hiring organization may define instructional designer jobs a little differently.
Some of the tasks an instructional designer might do include:
- Writing the learning objectives and determining the scope of educational projects
- Creating the layout of the instructional material
- Working with subject matter experts to shape the course content and, perhaps, writing that content
- Developing media (audio, visual, interactive) that aids in learning
- Planning and creating assessments to measure if learning objects are met
Instructional designers do not typically have contact with students. The courses they design are usually facilitated by online faculty members.
Type of Position:
The positions may be regular employment or for independent contractors or consultants.
Instructional design jobs may often be work-at-home positions, particularly if they are contract positions, but many employment positions in instructional design can easily transition to telecommuting. (Keep in mind that work-at-home jobs in instructional design are rarely entry level.)
Full-time instructional design jobs are usually salaried positions. Part-time employment and contract positions in the field are most likely paid hourly. However, some independent contractors in instructional design may be paid for an entire project, rather than hourly.
Just as what an instructional designer does varies, the path to a career in instruction design is not a singular route. People come to the instructional design profession after first having been teachers, writers, editors, media specialists, trainers, etc. This is the type of job that many learn by doing. However, others learn it though school.
A bachelor degree is the minimum educational requirement for an instructional designer. If that degree is in a related field, such as education or communication, all the better. However, some employers may look for a master’s in instructional design or instructional technology.
Without a master’s degree, experience in teaching, training, writing or web technology is usually expected.
Some skills required or helpful in instructional design:
- Basic html undertanding
- Graphic design experience
- Experience with learning management systems
- Knowledge of Dreamweaver, Photoshop, PowerPoint and other MS Office software
- Audio and video editing skills
Among the factors determining pay for instructional designers are levels of education and experience as well as the position type. Also instructional designers working in a business setting may be paid more than those in a government or nonprofit.
The hourly rate for instructional design contractors may range from $20 up to $45 an hour or more. Entry levels salaries for those with a bachelor degree start in the upper $40,000 to lower $50,000 range.
With more experience and a master's degree, the job can pay from $60,000 to $90,000 or more.*
Where to Find a Job as an Instructional Designer:
School systems and other government entities, colleges (both online and brick-and-mortar), educational services companies and corporations hire and/or contract with instructional designers.
- Online Teaching and Education Jobs - This list includes all sorts of positions related to education including instructional designer jobs and online course development as well as positions in online tutoring, foreign language instruction and adult education course writing.
- Online Teaching Employment Resources - This list of job boards and other resources lists places to find teaching jobs online. Many of these can be sorted to find work-at-home jobs.
- Instructional Design Central - This website posts instructional design jobs, but also includes links to other sources for job leads in ID.
See more types of jobs in online education.