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Instructional Designer Career


What is an Instructional Designer?


An instructional designer is an individual responsible for identifying and implementing specific programs and technologies that benefit the teaching and learning experience. Instructional designers can improve the lives of both teachers and students, helping to implement methods that enhance the entire education process.

Instructional designers typically need both an undergraduate and a master’s degree in education. In addition, employers sometimes prefer candidates with at least a few years of experience in a relevant academic field.


What Does an Instructional Designer Do?

Instructional designers are responsible for several different job duties. On some days, you might communicate with school administrators or instructors about specific tools that could benefit student education. On other days, you might be responsible for installing those tools in a learning environment.

The exact responsibilities of an instructional designer can include:

  • Identifying new tools and technologies that can benefit a school’s learning process.
  • Communicating with school representatives about new technologies and programs capable of improving student experiences.
  • Integrating new academic resources into a learning environment. 
  • Troubleshooting issues with any new academic resources.
  • Training school administrators and educators in the use of any newly installed tools or technologies.
  • Installing new resources into current lesson plans without compromising the integrity of the curriculum.
  • Researching new instructional design practices that benefit a student’s cognitive thinking and other learning theories.

These and other responsibilities help instructional designers to advocate for quality educational practices through the use of technologies that enhance a learning environment.


What Education Does an Instructional Designer Need?

Before you can begin a career as an instructional designer, you’ll need to satisfy a few educational requirements. After obtaining an undergraduate degree, many instructional designers obtain a master's degree in education technology and instructional design.

A master’s program can help you take concrete steps toward a rewarding instructional design career. You'll develop enhanced skills in fields like measurement and evaluation, curriculum design, and design analysis, all immediately applicable once you begin a job as an instructional designer.

Best Degree for an Instructional Designer


Education Technology and Instructional Design – M.Ed.

The M.Ed. in Education Technology and Instructional Design from WGU is for...

The M.Ed. in Education Technology and Instructional Design from WGU is for instructional designers tasked with creating engaging and immersive virtual learning experiences that can substitute for on-ground instruction.

No teaching license required.

  • Time: 62% of students finish this program in 10 months.
  • Tuition: $3,975 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 12 total courses in this program.

This program includes two tracks for students to choose from:

  • The K-12 pathway
  • The Adult Learner pathway

Skills for your résumé included in this program:

  • Learning Experience Design
  • Assessment and Learning Analytics
  • Learning Technology
  • Research Methodology

Develop training and instruction expertise to help you in the classroom, in educational settings, or in corporate world.

How Much Does an Instructional Designer Make?


According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for instructional designers is $66,490. However, salaries vary depending on experience, geographic location, industry, and educational attainment. For example, instructional designers working for software publishers typically earn more than those in other industries such as education or healthcare. Additionally, instructional designers with advanced degrees or specialized certifications may command higher salaries.  

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


Employment of instructional designers is projected to increase by 2% from 2022 to 2032. This increase is the average for all occupations as companies and educational institutions seek professionals who can design effective, engaging learning experiences in online and traditional classroom settings. As a result, instructional designers can expect promising job opportunities in various industries, including healthcare, finance, and technology.


What Skills Does an Instructional Designer Need?

Instructional designers depend on a variety of different skills. Whether they’re consulting with school representatives or implementing new technologies into current curriculums, instructional designers use well-defined skill sets to help schools thrive.

Instructional designers might depend on the following skills:

  • Curriculum development: The ability to inform curriculum creation in a way that promotes technology use without compromising a teacher’s goals.
  • Technological proficiency: The ability to understand and use all necessary pieces of technology, including any computers, phones, tablets, online tools, and digital education resources.
  • Public speaking: The ability to address groups of teachers and school representatives regarding the latest technology and educational practices.
  • Research: The ability to identify and implement new technologies and educational tools to further improve an educational institution’s operations.
  • Problem-solving: The ability to diagnose and solve issues that schools face in the creation and use of classroom curriculums.
  • Instruction: The ability to inform teachers and school representatives about any new policies or technologies to be implemented.
  • Project management: One of the critical skills that an instructional designer must possess is project management. This involves developing a plan, executing that plan, tracking progress, and adjusting course as necessary. By using project management skills, an instructional designer helps ensure that all aspects of a project are accounted for and milestones are achieved promptly. As a result, instructional designers who are well versed in project management are better equipped to tackle complex projects and optimize the outcomes of their work.
  • Collaboration: Instructional designers work with subject matter experts, graphic designers, developers, project managers, and other stakeholders to create effective and engaging learning experiences. Collaborating with others helps instructional designers bring diverse perspectives and ideas to the table, leading to better problem-solving, needs analysis, and content development. They also work closely with clients to gather feedback and make necessary adjustments.
  • Analytical thinking: An instructional designer must be able to identify patterns, evaluate data, and draw conclusions based on evidence. Analytical thinking is necessary when creating effective learning programs. An instructional designer must analyze the learners' needs, the content, and the available resources to develop instruction that suits the situation. They must also be able to evaluate the effectiveness of their instruction and make adjustments as needed.
  • Adaptability and flexibility: In today's dynamic workplace, the only constant is change, and an instructional designer who can't adjust to changing circumstances will quickly find themselves left behind. Adaptability and flexibility allow instructional designers to tailor their approach to the unique needs of learners, adjusting on the fly to changing conditions and demands. Whether changing course materials, adapting to a new learning context, or integrating new technologies, versatility and patience are essential for success as an instructional designer.
  • User experience (UX) design: Understanding the principles of UX, including user-centeredness and usability, helps an instructional designer create compelling and engaging learning experiences. By incorporating UX techniques, an instructional designer can design for the learners' needs and preferences, resulting in a positive learning experience.
  • Cultural competency: A basic understanding of cultural competency allows instructional designers to develop content sensitive to their learners' diverse backgrounds. This includes considerations such as values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. For example, an instructional designer may need to adjust course materials when working with learners from diverse backgrounds and varying skill levels/abilities. They may need to incorporate culturally relevant examples and alternative learning formats to engage their learners effectively. 

These and other skills help instructional designers succeed as they advocate for the use of the latest technology to benefit the education process.

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Interested in Becoming an Instructional Designer?

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