Instructional Design

Five Ways to Begin Your Career as an Instructional Designer

instructional design

Five Ways to Begin Your Career as an Instructional Designer

As an instructional designer, the opportunities for personal and professional growth are limitless. The field has only just begun to explore the ways it can create engaging experiences for learners, from primary school students to people who are most likely to succeed (students who have struggled in previous grades). If you’re ready to embark on your new career as an instructional designer, we’ve got five tips for starting out that will make the transition easier than you could imagine. Read on to learn what an instructional design career entails, discover some of the top skills required by an I-designed, and discover how you can begin your new role as soon as today.

What Is an Instructional Designer?

Simply put, an instructional designer is a person who creates learning experiences for others. Unlike those who create web content, instructional designers don’t primarily work in one creative capacity. They do everything from creating graphics to creating learning materials and assessments, and may even be responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of a course. Instructional designers are responsible for creating, delivering, and evaluating any learning materials that are meant to teach future learners. These materials may take the form of a new course, a tool to improve student performance, or a guide to increase retention of information. Instructional designers are also responsible for helping teachers navigate new technology. As schools and educational institutions move toward a higher prevalence of technology and online education, instructional designers also play a key role in helping teachers adapt to these new environments.

Read More: Designing Instructional Materials for the Digital Age: The Biggest Trends, Tips and Tricks


What Skills Do Instructional Designers Need?

When it comes to skills, there are a few that are common to nearly every job description for an instructional designer. These include creativity, research skills, communication skills, and an eye for detail. Beyond those, however, the field is largely open to the individual with the ability to learn new skills and adopt them into their workflow. That is, it’s not uncommon for the demand for an individual with one set of skills to expand to include expertise in another area. For example, if you’re looking to begin your career as an instructional designer, you may want to focus on the top five skills that are most essential. These are creativity, research skills, communication skills, an eye for detail, and an understanding of how to integrate technology.

Learn to Code

Coding is everywhere, and it’s not just for coders anymore. As a part of your job search, you need to be looking for opportunities to increase your coding skills. These days, nearly any job that exists will require some level of coding experience. This includes the most traditional jobs like teacher and banker, but also jobs like customer service representative and insurance sales representative. To find opportunities where you can hone your coding skills, reach out to employers in areas like IT, engineering, and healthcare. In these industries, you can find employers that are looking for people who have the skills to work with technology on a day-to-day basis. To stay up-to-date on the latest coding trends, you should also look into educational resources that help you keep abreast of the latest coding skills.

Stay Connected to Trends in Education Technology

Instructional design is a rapidly evolving field, and you’ll need to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies. Technology is one of the most important aspects of an instructional design career, and you’ll need to stay connected to the latest trends in education technology. In order to do this, you can follow online channels that focus specifically on education technology. Perhaps the most prominent channel is, which is home to a large community of instructional designers and teachers. If you’re looking for more community channels, you can also follow educational technology Slack channels, as well as LinkedIn groups for educational technology professionals. Once you find channels that you’re interested in, you can also find resources that focus on specific aspects of technology. For example, you may want to follow channels that are focused on gasification, storytelling, or analytics.


Gain Marketing and Sales Skills

Marketing and sales skills are crucial to an instructional design career. In many ways, marketing and sales are more essential to an instructional design career than creativity and research. That’s because, while research and creativity are necessary to the creation of learning materials, they’re not particularly scalable. That is, they can’t be scaled to meet the needs of large populations of learners. Marketing and sales, however, are tools that can be used in a wide variety of industries. That is, they can be applied in any industry that is looking to sell products or services. As you begin to build your marketing and sales skills, you can also look for opportunities in areas like business development, sales, and marketing. In these roles, you can build your skills for marketing and sales by looking for opportunities to help businesses gain new customers or sell products that aren’t currently being sold.

Protect Your Intellectual Property

Instructional design may be an emerging field, but it is not one that will be easy to break into. To protect your intellectual property, you should also begin to build a portfolio of your work, both in terms of finished projects and a collection of your best concepts. To build a portfolio, you can begin by creating a website that showcases your work. You should also include a section on your site that explains how you select projects to work on, as well as a section that explains how you select which projects to include in your portfolio. You can further protect your portfolio by following best practices when it comes to copyrighting your work. That is, you should include proper copyright notices on all of your materials. To further protect your intellectual property, you can also consider hiring a lawyer to help you navigate the legal side of protecting your work.

Final Words

OK, now that you’ve got a good idea of what the field of instructional design looks like, what it entails, and what skills are required, it’s time to start your new career as an instructional designer. There are a variety of ways to get started in the field of instructional design. Perhaps you’d like to learn more about the educational technology field and find a way to fit in.


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