Transitioning from Teaching to Instructional Design

posted in: "How To" Guides, Career Tracks | 0

As my day job I teach in an instructional design and technology graduate program. I have a LOT of students that are teachers looking to make a career change to instructional design.

There’s a lot to like about instructional design! The responsibilities can vary from position to position, you can design for adults or kids or special populations, you can work in a variety of industries, there’s flexibility on whether you work in-office or from home, you can pick up freelancing work, and generally you make more money than teaching.

If you are looking to make the move, you don’t have to spend money on getting a masters degree or pursuing certificates (those are both great if you do want to go that route! But you don’t have to start there).

If you are thinking about making the switch, start by taking stock of the instructional design and tech skills you already have. Watch my intro to instructional design webinar. Any of that seem familiar? (I have a bunch of other recorded webinars on instructional design as well if you are interested!)

Then, revisit your resume and build a portfolio. Portfolios are a great way to show off your instructional design work. Go to LinkedIn and browse instructional design jobs – what kinds of skills and competencies do the jobs require? Make a list and use it as a guide. Edit your resume to highlight your ID skills. Then, use your list of skills and competencies to decide what to include in your portfolio, and what language to use to describe your items.

If you find you are lacking in portfolio pieces, you can build out more pieces. If you want a job that requires specific software use, you can usually get a free trial of the software and use it to build something out. You can use your portfolio to apply for instructional design positions.

To build your experience, consider looking into doing some pro bono work. I have a couple of places listed on the portfolio blog post linked above. Also, you can pick up contract work in instructional design. There are lots of places that hire freelances to develop elearning, and that might be a good way to grow your skills as well! You can get suggestions for places to pick up contract work in instructional design social media groups.

Want more? Check out Christy Tucker’s webinar on Transitioning from Teaching to Instructional Design.

I also recommend checking out instructional design podcasts and websites and listservs.

Finally, check out the books Design for How People Learn and The Accidental Instructional Designer. These are both wonderful resources for new instructional designers!