Instructional Designer for E-Learning Programs: Career Overview

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an instructional designer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties, employment prospects and necessary skills to find out if this is the career for you.

Instructional designers evaluate educational programs and create engaging e-learning curricula that can be used by teachers, human resource experts and other professionals in a variety of fields. A master's degree is beneficial, but work experience is considered to be more valuable for obtaining a position.

Essential Information

Instructional designers are needed in many types of organizations providing online learning opportunities. These professionals work to create challenging and stimulating curricula for students of various ages and backgrounds. Jobs can range from positions with colleges and universities to employment with computer software companies, healthcare providers, insurance companies, non-profits and other organizations. Although a master's degree is typical for instructional designers, the e-learning field tends to place a higher value on work experience than a particular degree.

Required Education Master's degree in curriculum and instruction, curriculum design, instructional design or instructional technology is typical
Other Requirements Professional experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% (for all instructional coordinators)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $62,270 (for all instructional coordinators)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for E-Learning Instructional Designers

Instructional designers develop curricula, train teachers, assess educational programs and perform other duties related to coursework. With the advent of the Internet, instructional designers are needed more and more in areas relating to online or e-learning. Instructional designers for e-learning programs run by businesses develop Internet-based training programs in a variety of areas, such as software and human resources. E-learning programs are becoming more common at colleges and universities, and instructional designers are needed to develop these courses.

Desirable Skills for E-Learning Instructional Designers

Individuals working in this field need to enjoy working with people and technology. They need to be organized and have an ability to explain things clearly and succinctly. Evaluation and writing skills are also important for jobs in this field.

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Educational Requirements for Instructional Designer Positions

While a minimum of a master's degree is required for most instructional design positions working in public schools, companies hiring instructional designers for their e-learning programs do not necessarily require higher education. Prior professional experience is sometimes more important to getting hired in this type of work. Degrees in curriculum design, curriculum and instruction, instructional technology or instructional design provide the education needed to enter the field.

Employment Outlook for Instructional Designers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for all instructional coordinators, which includes instructional designers, is expected to increase by 7% from 2014 to 2024, a rate that's about average. The median annual salary for instructional coordinators was $62,270 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

Job Prospects for Instructional Designers for E-Learning Programs

As more and more employer-sponsored e-learning programs are created, a need will arise for instructional designers in this area. As community colleges find themselves in competition with other organizations providing e-learning classes to meet specific corporate training needs, it is likely that colleges will create more e-learning classes, spurring the need for instructional designers or curriculum specialists to design their e-learning programs.

Individuals who wish to work as instructional designers should focus on obtaining degrees in curriculum design and instructional technology to gain a better understanding of what's required of these professionals. Professional experience may be as important as education in procuring a job in this field. Jobs are expected to grow at a 7% rate through 2024, and the median salary for instructional designers was about $62,000 in 2015.


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