In 2000, I told my parents I was enrolling in a doctoral program in Instructional Technology at Virginia Tech. (I believe an earthquake registered a 10 on the Richter scale in Virginia that day because of their surprise. You see, I was one year away from a doctorate in another field!)
My dad immediately started asking what can you do with that degree? What do people with that degree do? Can they get a job? Being brand new to the program, I didn’t have an answer, but now I can say, with over 10 years of experience, “Yes, I know what you can do with that degree, I know what people do in that job, and yes, you can get a job.”
In fact, the US Department of Labor states that instructional designers or technologists have a Bright Outlook. A Bright Outlook means that these occupations are “expected to grow rapidly in the next several years, will have large numbers of job openings, or are new and emerging occupations.” (source: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/25-9031.01)
If you’re contemplating making a career switch to instructional designer and are curious about what we do, read on!
But what do you do as an instructional designer/technologist?
Corporate employers are looking for a jack of all trades. Can you write a training program collaboratively with people that don’t understand what training is or value it? Can you write a training program for online? Can you help them achieve better compliance outcomes? Can you help the bottom line by creating better sales force training? Can you troubleshoot a technical question? Can you communicate effectively with diverse groups? Can you project manage? Can you use technology to create elearning? In a corporate setting, you must show the value and impact of training, so don’t forget the importance of evaluation!
Non-profits are similar to corporate employers except, rather than focusing on the bottom line, they are looking at what helps them achieve their mission. Non-profits may be looking for instructional programs that focus on community outreach or educating the folks that use their services. Can you attract more people to the museum? Can you improve patient outcomes at a hospital? Can you take an existing undergraduate course and put it online? Can you teach teachers how to incorporate technology into their classrooms? Evaluation matters here too. How are you helping achieve the mission?
Do you like it?
I love it! I don’t regret for one second my switch! I’m lucky because my vocation and avocation are identical. I’m an educator at heart and my focus is always on the learner and their experience. When I create an educational piece that the learners benefit from, that’s my fulfillment – whether it’s simply learning how to use Excel or whether it’s a leadership course. I’ve been fortunate to work in finance, health care, non-profit community education, and higher education. I’ve enjoyed every position as I progressed upward in my roles and responsibilities. I keep on learning from my colleagues, but most of all, from the learners themselves!
Are you interested in pursuing a Master’s degree that allows you to become an instructional designer? Drop us a note and let us know! We’re thinking of offering an online degree program and would love to hear your thoughts! firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers and keep learning!
Hope, Director of Instructional Design