Instructional Designers: We Get the Job Done in Many Fields

EKU Online > Instructional Designers: We Get the Job Done in Many Fields

An instructional designer can work in numerous industries and environments to improve learning outcomes and performance for organizations and individuals. This challenging and rewarding field is expected to see above average growth across the U.S., making this a great time to enter the field.

Career opportunities include:

Corporate and Manufacturing

Instructional designers perform varied tasks in corporate and manufacturing settings. Some IDs focus more on developing digital resources such as audiovisual and interactive courseware, either as a product to be sold or for use by the company’s workforce. They also create materials for external customer training.

Instructional designers also produce specialized materials, such as manuals, placards, or other visual tools and learning devices. Corporate IDs frequently work with subject matter experts and trainers toward developing various curricula, the critical work that happens before the instruction is actually designed.

Much of this work is tied to creating and producing content using a host of products such as Adobe Creative Suite, Captivate, Articulate Storyline, and other authoring tools and learning management system environments too numerous to mention in this post.

Higher Education

Postsecondary institutions have increasingly hired instructional designers in the last several years. According to Intentional Futures (2016), at least 13,000 instructional designers work in higher education. These numbers are expected to continue to grow, as IDs bring many needed skills to the table. Traditional ID roles in higher education include junior and senior instructional designer, director of online learning, and chief learning officer. 

Intentional Futures (2016) offers a breakdown of how universities have employed ID’s to perform tasks and roles that focus on online course design and development (20%), project management (73%), conduct faculty consultations and training in the use of technology (73%) and pedagogy/andragogy (49%). Designers also work within faculty teaching and learning centers, where they provide various learning solutions related to face to face, hybrid, and online learning.

Working in higher education can be intrinsically rewarding, as working with a diverse faculty population and in research environments can offer a dynamic and ever-changing daily routine.

Government and Military

Specialized training is a requisite in many public organizations and a staple of the United States military.

Instructional design as a field has its roots in the US military during World War II. Instructionalists such as Dr. Robert Gagne, pioneering the Science of Instruction during his work with the US Army, created instructional systems used to train pilots using techniques to enhance efficiency. Gagne used these experiences to inform his scholarship, which was immensely influential in our field.

Today instructional design principles and techniques are heavily utilized for training millions of military personnel, government employees, contractors, and other agencies. You will find several public sector employment opportunities every day in job searches.

Some of the roles and responsibilities in this sector include management of training programs, needs analysis, program evaluation, multimedia development, e-learning authoring, collaboration with various subject matter experts, and ensuring instructional materials strictly comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. An Instructional Designer working in this field often requires a security clearance as well.

Instructional Designers as Independent Contractors or Freelancers

Freelancing offers freedom and flexibility in the workplace, control of workload, independence, and the ability to cultivate a professional brand while often achieving higher than average compensation. According to Glassdoor (2021), the average salary earned by full time, salaried instructional designers at jobs in the US is $60,934, while the average full-time freelance instructional designer salary is $84,874 annually.

IDs who work as consultants are the mavericks of our field. They usually have their choice of many diverse projects, working with the gamut of public and private organizations. They generally work remotely and are able to set their own schedules. Our close network of IDs in Richmond has been contacted by and worked with recruiters for Fortune 500 companies, universities with high name recognition, professional organizations, educational service firms, government contractors, grant holders, and others.

ID freelancers must keep a current, cutting-edge work portfolio, subscribe to various hosting and authoring tools, and cultivate an extensive professional network. They should also possess bookkeeping knowledge, and meticulous time-management skills.

In closing, instructional design is a growing field with great opportunities in many diverse areas and industries. 

Eastern Kentucky University’s online Master of Science in Instructional Design and Learning Technology prepares competent, capable creators of  learning solutions across the professional landscape. The degree provides relevant, real-world course content, experienced faculty,  practical experiences, and portfolio preparation to showcase your skills and abilities to hiring decision-makers in the 21st-century workplace.

Earn your online master’s degree from a regionally accredited university that has been an online education leader for more than 15 years. Complete the form to learn more about how you can earn your master’s in instructional design and learning technology and give yourself a competitive edge in the job market. Contact us today to get started.


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