With the recent rise in remote work, many health clinics, workplaces, and educational institutions have had to quickly change how their daily processes operate to accommodate for this new day-to-day work life.
For some, this transition has been smooth. For others, it’s been stressful, expensive, and very difficult. Instructional design careers are all about making these and similar technological transitions easier.
Instructional design experts modify communication platforms, workplaces, and curricula to work more effectively for the people who use them. If you’re an instructional designer, you might design a virtual learning platform to meet the needs of young children who can’t stare at screens all day. Or you might work with a health clinic to optimize patient communications across distance.
The myriad career trajectories you can take offer great flexibility and a chance to learn about whatever interests you. SNU’s instructional design technology degree program provides a broad base of knowledge to help you excel at whatever you hope to do.
Instructional Design Careers: Growing Demand, Soaring Earnings
The COVID-19 pandemic put a bright spotlight on disparities in instructional design. Institutions that had exceptional technologies or well-designed communication platforms often found that transitioning to remote learning or work was relatively easy. Others continue to struggle months after the height of the pandemic.
Although it’s too early to have specific data on how the pandemic has affected instructional design careers, the pandemic has proven how valuable these roles are. Even before the pandemic, though, signs pointed to a growing role for instructional design careers.
"In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted 6% career growth for careers in instructional coordination — one subset of instructional design. These experts earned a median of $66,290 per year."
As demand grows, job vacancies increase, with an average vacancy for positions in this role at 20%. This suggests that graduates will enjoy a wide open job market, with plenty of opportunities.
The effects of the pandemic have been catastrophic for many institutions, clearly demonstrating the value of the ability to rapidly shift to online platforms. Prior to the start of last year, many institutions that could benefit from an instructional designer did not hire one. For example, a 2019 survey of educational chief operating officers found that 58% who did not have an instructional designer on staff cited limited resources as a primary reason. So even with limited resources, it is likely that these roles will now seem more valuable, opening up more jobs.
Reasons to Consider a Career in Instructional Design
Even without the increased demand the pandemic presents, there are plenty of reasons to consider a role in instructional design:
Between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the instructional coordinator field will add 11,400 new jobs. As just one subsector of instructional design and technology, high growth in this field suggests higher growth in related fields.
Instructional designers work across industries and niches. You might be able to work remotely, to start your own instructional design firm, or to fill a consulting role across several industries.
Careers in instructional design empower you to support people to get an education, excel at work or get the medical support they need. At a moment of crisis, you can help institutions switch to remote options, allowing them to better serve their target population and weather the storm. This can have far-reaching implications for the economy, for public health and for personal well-being.
The technologies of today are different from those of 10 — or even 5 — years ago. You’ll continually refresh your knowledge base, adapt to new ways of learning and being, and gain insight into new fields. Instructional design careers can make you smarter, more compassionate, and more adaptable.
Common Instructional Design Career Paths
What does life as an instructional designer look like? That depends on the role you choose, where you work and how you work — on-staff at a corporation, as a consultant for an institution of higher learning, or perhaps on a project basis as an independent contractor.
Some common career paths include:
One of the most obvious roles for instructional designers is in education. Institutions of higher learning may employ instructional designers to:
In elementary and high schools, instructional designers can fill similar roles, but may also work with local school boards to meet district goals or respond to changing educational requirements.
At some educational institutions, there’s plenty of room to ascend the career ladder. You may start out working for a single school, graduate to working for the district, or eventually work for state educational institutions.
Businesses of virtually every size can benefit from the insight of instructional designers. Although each business is different, some examples of potential duties you might fill include:
Larger businesses may hire full-time instructional designers. Smaller companies may contract with consultants.
Like businesses, nonprofits may need instructional design support to better serve their target populations. Some duties you might fill include:
Much like businesses, nonprofit organizations with a large service reach may hire full-time designers, while smaller organizations may work on a contract basis with agencies.
Exceptional instructional design is key to the functioning of the military. Some potential duties in this role might include:
Because the military is large and sprawling, it may hire full-time designers or outsource work to government contractors. In some cases, your work might be limited to a specific project, while in others, you might move from project to project.
Not all healthcare has to happen in a doctor’s office. Instructional designers in healthcare can support clinicians to see patients virtually. This may include devising and implementing platforms that are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant, and ensuring they are easy for both doctors and patients to use.
In some cases, you may contract with a large healthcare system to get the entire system on a virtual platform. In others, you may be an employee who fills different roles at different times. Some examples of other duties you might have include:
Financial institutions are governed by myriad regulations that can be tough to follow during a pandemic or other crisis. Instructional designers can help them communicate more effectively and better serve their clients, even across distance and other challenges.
It is critical for the government to be able to communicate with the citizens it serves, as well as contractors and other entities that carry out its duties. Many local and municipal governments work with contractors, while larger governmental entities may employ full-time instructional designers to manage duties such as:
Choosing the Right Instructional Design Career
With so many options for an instructional design career, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, particularly if you’ve never worked in the industry before. A few questions can help you decide which career path might be right for your needs.
When considering a career in this field, ask yourself:
Getting Ready for a Career in Instructional Design
The right education is the key to unlocking instructional design career jobs, but it’s not enough. You must be prepared to be a competitive candidate. There are many strategies to consider during each step of the pre-employment process.
Customize your resume to each job you apply to, highlighting career achievements relevant to the role. Don’t just focus on your duties; list resume and career highlights that set you apart from other candidates. Do you meet all of the job requirements, and have you clearly highlighted this in your resume and cover letter?
Also, networking opportunities during the process help expand your field of opportunity. Consider the following possibilities:
Practice before an interview so you can be both polished and personable. Some sample instructional design interview questions include:
Learn as much about the company to which you are applying as you can. Consider the following:
What to Expect in an Instructional Design Program
The right instructional design program fully prepares you to enter the working world, succeed at interviews and climb the career ladder.
SNU’s instructional design technology program caters to working adults, offering an online course structure and an innovative one-class-at-a-time model so that you can focus on each course while maximizing your grades.
Our cohort model means that you take your classes with the same group of students. Together, you’ll master course material, then ideally move on to supporting one another in the working world.
"We believe that adult learners bring much to the program, especially because many of them have prior experience in the industries into which they hope to graduate."
Students can graduate in as few as 16 months, and each course lasts just 6 weeks, allowing you to quickly navigate the program. Students need a total of 30 credit hours, and the program costs $490 per credit hour.
Although every instructional design program is different, here are some of the courses you can expect at SNU:
SNU knows that the right degree can change worlds — not just your own, but that of your community, family and the businesses for which you eventually work. We’d love to talk to you about our program and help you decide whether it’s the right fit for you.Apply now, or learn more via our free guide, What to Expect from an Online Degree Program.