If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

What does an instructional designer do?

Learn about the typical work environments and responsibilities of an instructional designer.
When you take an online class or watch a tutorial to learn about a new product, do you ever wonder who is behind the scenes? It’s not just computer programmers and teachers. Instructional designers also play a key role in making sure that the tools you use to learn are effective and easy to understand.
Instructional designers look for gaps in knowledge and come up with ways to fill them, whether through games, tutorials, or articles. They collaborate with subject-experts to develop curriculum and test learning to make sure students are ready for the next challenge. Since instructional designers are experts in both technology and education, it’s important for them to stay up-to-date on changes in both fields.
Instructional designers work for school districts, universities, and companies that need to train consumers or employees how to use a tool or product. Even when working for a school district or university, instructional designers typically work year-round in an office setting. Their work is often a mix of independent and team-based projects, thus instructional designers need to be strong communicators who are comfortable working with others, as well as self-motivators who can tackle a project on their own.
According to Payscale.com, the national average salary of an instructional designer in the US is $61,000. However, this varies greatly by location. Salary reports on Glassdoor.com show that the average salary of an instructional designer in San Francisco is $79,248 with a range of $60,000-$103,000.
The need for instructional designers is projected to grow, as companies and educational institutions rely more heavily on elearning and technology to interact with consumers. Instructional designers play a key role in helping people understand these new technologies. Instructional designers can continue to grow in their role and take on more independence or they might shift into management positions or focus on curriculum design. They can also choose to work exclusively for one organization or to work as independent contractors.


Instructional Designer Salaries in San Francisco, CA.” Glassdoor.com. Accessed March 8, 2017.
Instructional Designer Salary.” Payscale.com. Accessed March 8, 2017.
What Instructional Designers Do: Is this a career for you?” By Connie Malamad, thelearningcoach.com. Accessed March 8, 2017.
What is the Role of the Instructional Designer?” By Bhavya Aggarwal, elearningindustry.com. Accessed March 8, 2017.

Want to join the conversation?