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How do you become an instructional designer?

Learn about the education and training required to become an instructional designer.
If you’re passionate about helping others learn as an instructional designer, it’s important to first invest in your own education. Unlike doctors and lawyers who need a specific degree to work in their field, there is not one set path to become an instructional designer. However, most instructional designers hold at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree. And their learning doesn’t stop there - instructional designers are constantly updating their skills to stay current with the latest technology and learning theories.
While pursuing higher education is important, not all instructional designers have a degree specific to this field. Many start by working as educators or trainers, and then move into instructional design, after building their skills in curriculum design and assessment. Educators can also enhance their instructional design skills through online courses that add to their classroom or training experience.
If you have limited experience as an educator or trainer, then you may want to consider entering an accredited instructional design bachelor’s or master’s program. These programs typically include tech-based training in things like web design, as well as education classes on subjects such as curriculum design.
The type of credential you need to work as an instructional designer varies based on the work environment. School districts and universities often require an advanced degree in instructional design or education technology, while companies that hire instructional designers for consumer learning, employee training, and content marketing often place more value on relevant work experience.
Before committing to a degree program, think about the type of work that you want to do. Do you see yourself working as an instructional designer for a large company, focusing on things like corporate training or technology tutorials? Do you want to help design online classes for a university? If you decide to pursue a degree in instructional design, make sure that the program you choose is geared toward your long-term goal.
Once you become an instructional designer, it’s important to continually develop your skills. E-learning tools are constantly changing and instructional designers are on the cutting edge of these advancements.


7 Steps To Become An Instructional Designer.” By Christopher Pappas, elearningindustry.com. Accessed March 18, 2017.
Become an Instructional Design Specialist: Career Roadmap.” Study.com. Accessed March 8, 2017.
Getting Into Instructional Design.” By Christy Tucker. Accessed March 8, 2017.
How To Choose The Right Instructional Design Bachelor Program.” By Christopher Pappas, elearningindustry.com. Accessed March 18, 2017.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user N.Demanuele
    I've attempted this path: becoming an Instructional Designer and realized there were a few aspects I didn't like: 1. Too Subjective: IMO, stakeholders can be too picky with outcomes of projects. I understand this is common practice but it can be frustrating. 2. I think it's very saturated and competitive. I believe this is due to many teachers trying to transition into it.

    I'd appreciate your input on this. Thanks.
    (2 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      There are many fields of endeavor like instructional design in which you, as the expert, are subject to the whims of those who pay for your service. This can be unpleasant, especially when you know better than the nitpickers.
      There are also many fields in which there is a lot of competition.

      My suggestion is that, people considering going into instructional design first take a psychological assessment to learn how well they tolerate interference. If they don't do well with it, perhaps they should consider something else.

      Second: before going into this (or any) field, consult the Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook data, to see if there's room in the field or much future in it.
      (1 vote)
  • blobby green style avatar for user JenniferZ
    why are such requirements needed in order to become an instructional designer
    (1 vote)
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  • mr pink green style avatar for user 2045687
    Do instructional designers have bachelor's degrees?
    (1 vote)
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