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Online Course Designer Career


What is an Online Course Designer?


An online course designer is an individual who builds a variety of digital courses, learning programs, and curriculums to help virtual students thrive. You will make decisions that influence students’ content consumption while structuring courses in ways that help teachers gauge student progress.

Though similar to the course-creation role of an instructional designer, an online course designer role is about creating curriculums for online students.

Potential online course designers generally need both an undergraduate and a master’s degree to enter the field. Because of the differences between traditional and online education, many employers also prefer that you have at least a few years of experience working in a virtual educational environment.


What Does a Online Course Designer Do?

Online course designers are expected to fulfill quite a few responsibilities each day. You will ideate, design, and help to implement courses that positively influence the students who use them.

The exact responsibilities of an online course designer include:

  • Brainstorming new courses with educators, school executives and representatives, and other team members.
  • Creating all course materials, including general course materials, study sheets, and exams.
  • Optimizing courses according to feedback from students, parents, and school representatives to help online curriculums further benefit student education.
  • Troubleshooting any issues with online programs or platforms required for full course use.
  • Communicating with educators to determine how course materials should be best packaged and presented for student use.
  • Researching the latest developments in online education to identify any new trends or technologies worth implementing.
  • Collaborating with other online course designers to build courses promptly.

These and other responsibilities keep online course designers busy each day as they remain focused on building the best possible assets for remote students.


What Education Does a Online Course Designer Need?

Before you can begin a career as an online course designer, you’ll need to clear a few educational hurdles. Once you have completed your undergraduate degree, you’ll need to further your education with an instruction-related master’s degree.

Many students pursue a master's degree in education technology and instructional design. This program helps to prepare you for a full-time course-creation role, allowing you to improve your knowledge of design analysis, evaluation methodology, and the course evaluation process. This degree is also a great fit for a student looking to pursue a career as a course designer. In this type of degree program, you will learn about how technology and course design connect. 

Best Degrees for Online Course Designers


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 Online Course Designer Make?


The exact income of an online course designer varies based on many different factors. These can include your employer, employer’s location, employer’s size, employer’s public or private educational funding, your years of experience, and education. On average, the annual salary of an online course designer is $66,467; the top 10% can make $134,000 and the bottom 10% of earners take home $18,500 each year.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


As online education continues to grow in popularity and use, the job outlook for online course designers should remain favorable in future years. Employment for all instructional coordinators is expected to grow 6% from 2019 to 2029, a growth rate above the average across all occupations.


What Skills Does an Online Course Designer Need?

Online course designers depend on a variety of skills each day. Whether you’re creating new curriculums, integrating educator feedback into your courses, or learning new pieces of technology, your skill set will be critical for achieving success.

The skills an online course designer needs include:

  • Creativity. The ability to design courses that help online students engage with materials and develop useful skills.
  • Course implementation. The ability to fully integrate courses into a school’s existing networks to provide all students with access to the educational materials they need to succeed.
  • Course optimization. The ability to revise specific aspects of online courses to accommodate student preferences and changing student needs.
  • Writing. The ability to draft written course materials that help students easily understand, and learn from, the content.
  • Troubleshooting. The ability to diagnose and solve technical issues that an online course might be experiencing.
  • Technological proficiency. The ability to fully use all required technology for the role, including any computers, tablets, phones, and digital platforms, as well as online education tools.
  • Teamwork. The ability to work well alongside other online course designers, school representatives, or team members.
  • Interpersonal communication. The ability to correspond effectively with anyone else involved in the course creation process.
  • Data analysis/reporting. The ability to collect and learn from data in ways that can inspire further improvements to online curriculums.

These skills help online course designers excel in creative roles as they work to provide students with high-quality online courses and programs.

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

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Interested in Becoming an Online Course Designer?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.