28 February

How to Enhance Your Career With an Instructional Design Certification


  1. How do I start a career in instructional design?
  2. What is the career path for an instructional designer?
  3. How do I get into instructional design with no experience?
  4. How do you become an instructional designer?
  5. Do I need a degree to be an instructional designer?
  6. Do instructional designers work from home?
  7. Do you need to be certified in instructional design?
  8. The benefits of course certificates
  9. What are 3 qualities of the ideal instructional designer?
  10. What is the difference between a teacher and an instructional designer?
  11. Pivoting careers and the Digital Learning Institute

In today’s rapidly evolving world, knowledge and skills are the new currency  – for both individuals and companies alike. This means that digital learning professionals who are able to create learning experiences that effectively impart knowledge and skills will become increasingly more in-demand across nearly all industries. So if you’re interested in becoming a digital learning professional – or upskilling in your current digital learning or instructional design job – there is no better time to start than now. 

Instructional design is a lucrative, dynamic, creative and growing field that is well-suited to individuals with a penchant for learning, and who enjoy collaborating with others and working with technology. As instructional designers are responsible for creating diverse courses and learning programmes, it also makes a great career choice for anyone who enjoys versatility and being responsible for a mix of different tasks and altering projects.

Whether you’re already working in an instructional design job or thinking about transitioning into the field of instructional design, it’s vital to make sure you’re taking the right steps and developing the skills needed to succeed in your career. Keep reading to learn how you can launch or accelerate your instructional design career with an instructional design certification.

Get an instructional design certification with our diploma in Digital Learning Design

How do I start a career in instructional design?

The first step towards getting an instructional design job is to gain the skills and knowledge required to perform the functions of the role. However, since instructional designers need to have such a versatile skill set, there are various ways a prospective instructional designer can develop these competencies to break into the field. One of the most common and effective methods to prepare yourself to launch a career in instructional design is by completing instructional design training.

Instructional design training is a programme that equips you with the skills needed to learn the foundations of the field, to upskill or to take your career to the next level. These training programmes can be completed through a private institute or university, and each programme will differ substantially by cost, time-commitment and format.

One of the most common types of instructional design training programmes for working professionals and career changers is a professional diploma course, such as the Professional Diploma in Digital Learning Design from Digital Learning Institute. The features that make this type of training so attractive are that professional diplomas are typically short-term, affordable and flexible. 

In addition to obtaining instructional design training, starting a career in the field will involve demonstrating that you can successfully perform the functions of the job and create high-quality learning experiences. Therefore you’ll want to develop a portfolio of work samples and gain as much hands-on experience as possible.

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What is the career path for an instructional designer?

Since instructional design is an interdisciplinary field, there is no one standard career path that all instructional designers take. In fact, instructional designers can stem from diverse educational backgrounds and work in different industries. It is also common for experienced professionals to transition into an instructional design job after first starting a career in another field.

Although the career path for instructional designers varies, some common backgrounds for instructional designers include teaching, human resources or graphic design. However, many professionals also choose to start their career in instructional design directly following secondary school or university.

Regardless of the career path differences, the future for instructional design is bright – with the skills in high demand and lucrative salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual instructional design salary is $63,740, with the highest 10% earning over $101,090. 

Depending on your individual experience, career path and location, the instructional design salary will vary. However, since instructional design skills are set to continue increasing in demand, regardless of the individual path you take, you can expect a high career growth rate and employability. 

Learn more about the career path for an Instructional Designer!

How do I get into instructional design with no experience?

There are various avenues you can take to gain experience in instructional design. However, one of the most common methods to develop the experience required to start a career is through completing an instructional design training programme. 

A quality instructional design training programme will include a mixture of theoretical and practical coursework. Through the practical coursework, you’ll also be able to gain hands-on experience completing instructional design tasks and projects which you can add to your portfolio. 

The most effective instructional design training programmes will support learners with completing an instructional design project from start to finish. This way, prospective instructional designers can gain the transferable and practical experience to hit the ground running in their next role.

Since many companies use a skills-based approach when hiring instructional designers, practical skills and portfolio work will sometimes carry more weight than academic degrees when assessing candidates. So for this reason, career-focused and practical professional development courses that include hands-on experience can be so beneficial when trying to land your first instructional design job.

However, while taking an instructional design training course can be one of the most effective and efficient ways to gain experience, there are other options you can do in addition to a course. These include doing internships or freelance work, or completing your own sample projects to build a portfolio.

How do you become an instructional designer?

If you’re wondering how to become an instructional designer, it’s important to know that there isn’t one singular path that all instructional designers take. Although some instructional designers get academic degrees to gain the skills and knowledge needed to enter the profession, some take alternate paths that include transitioning from other career areas or upskilling through a professional course.

But although there isn’t one answer to the question of how to become an instructional designer, there are various training programmes that can help you gain the skills and experience needed to fast-track your career. However, when choosing a training programme, it’s important to ensure the course is accredited, and includes both theory and practical skills in the curriculum.

You’ll also want to make sure that the course covers competencies and skill areas that instructional designers are typically required to have. These include design skills, knowledge of learning models and theories, and experience using learning platforms and design tools. 

Apart from acquiring the basic skills and knowledge required to be an instructional designer, building connections with more senior professionals in the field can increase your chances of obtaining an instructional design job. Networking through a course, events or informational interviews can be great ways to immerse yourself in the field and more quickly establish yourself as an instructional designer.

Do I need a degree to be an instructional designer?

Instructional designers have diverse backgrounds with varying levels of education. Although many instructional designers do have academic degrees, it is not always an application requirement for an instructional design job. Particularly with skills-based hiring on the rise, employers are becoming more interested in what you can do as opposed to what degrees you have.

However, just because academic degrees are not always an application requirement for instructional design roles, this doesn’t mean that professional training isn’t a factor in hiring. And oftentimes, employers like to see that candidates have completed professional skills training programmes, such as an instructional design course. 

Another reason why an instructional design course can be so valuable when starting out or advancing your instructional design career is because it is demonstrable evidence of your skill set. And employers that take a skills-based approach to hiring look for candidates who are interested in continuous skills development and are dedicated to their career.

So the bottom line is that while some instructional designers do have academic degrees, it is not always a requirement to enter the field. However, demonstrating that you have gained knowledge of theory, methodology and tools through an instructional design course is a surefire way to boost your career opportunities and outlook.

Do instructional designers work from home?

Depending on the specific company and job, instructional designers may work remotely, or in hybrid or office-based roles. However, due to the nature of the job, the role of an instructional designer lends itself well to remote or hybrid working arrangements.

Although instructional design involves a high amount of collaboration with subject matter experts, course instructors and other stakeholders, this collaboration can often be done virtually. And even if the role is office-based, instructional designers should still be proficient with collaborating over virtual conference software as they may have stakeholders in other locations.

From a logistical standpoint, instructional designers typically only require a laptop or PC to access the software and tools needed to perform their role. Therefore, it is typically a role that is well-suited to remote work. However, as many instructional designers work with two monitors, this should be considered when determining a suitable working environment.

When seeking remote instructional design jobs, it can be helpful to target your search to online job boards that specifically advertise remote or flexible roles. Although the pandemic has led to an increase in not only remote instructional design jobs, but remote jobs in all fields, each company has varying policies around remote and flexible working.

Do you need to be certified in instructional design?

Although a certificate is not a requirement to become an instructional designer, it can greatly improve your employability and lead to increased career advancement opportunities. Professional skills certificates are also not only tailored to individuals starting out a career in instructional design, but can be suitable for more seasoned instructional designers as well.

However, it is important to keep in mind that not all instructional design certifications are equal. And you’ll want to ensure that you choose an instructional design certification that is accredited. The reason that accreditation is such an important factor when choosing an instructional design certification is because it is a sign of course quality.

Accredited development programmes have gone through a quality assurance process with an external body that verified the programme conforms to a set of standards. This means that you have evidence that the programme will be worth the investment and give you the skills and knowledge that you’re expecting to receive.

So while instructional design certifications are not required to enter the profession, they can fast-track your career and give yourself an edge when it comes to advancement. Just make sure to choose a certification that has been accredited in order to ensure you’ll get the most benefit out of the learning experience.

The benefits of course certificates

In today’s fast-paced world, professionals must continuously develop their skills to stay ahead of the latest advancements and remain competitive in the employment market. And for this reason, gaining course certificates, such as through instructional design courses, can be so beneficial – on both a professional and personal level.

Although there are a multitude of advantages that come from completing an instructional design course, some of the most direct benefits include gaining new skills, developing your confidence and growing your network. The return on investment of taking an instructional design course is also exponential, and can lead to higher earning potential and an improved professional reputation over time.

Developing your skills through an instructional design course is also a great way to demonstrate your dedication to continuously learning and maintaining your skills. Since the field of instructional design is continuously evolving, it’s imperative that instructional designers have a commitment to lifelong learning and professional development.

However, an instructional design course doesn’t only provide benefits for those looking to advance in their current field –  but also for career changers. Since professional development courses are often shorter and more affordable than academic degree programmes, they provide a manageable route to gain the skills needed to pivot professionally and launch a new career. 

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What are 3 qualities of the ideal instructional designer?

The role of an instructional designer is dynamic and requires a range of interpersonal skills, technical skills and personal traits to be successful. And while instructional designers vary in terms of individual strengths, the three qualities that an ideal instructional designer should have are a passion for learning, technological acumen and some design skills and knowledge of instructional design principles.

One of the most important qualities for an instructional designer to have is a passion for learning and an interest in learning theory. Because the role involves creating learning content, many instructional designers enter the field because they are themselves lifelong learners who want to inject their passion into their work.

The second quality an ideal instructional designer should have is technical acumen. Because instructional designers work with an array of technical tools and software, they should enjoy working with technology and display a willingness to work with new digital tools – as well as an ability to quickly learn new technologies.

Thirdly, an instructional designer should have a visual eye and some design skills. Since the role of an instructional designer involves creating attractive and easily navigable courses and learning programmes, design skills are a must. And while advanced graphic design skills are typically not required, instructional designers should have an understanding of instructional design principles and foundational design theories. 

What is the difference between a teacher and an instructional designer?

Transitioning from teacher to instructional designer is a common career path due to the transferable skill set that teachers bring to the role. But while there are some overlapping skill sets and responsibilities between the role of a teacher and that of an instructional designer, they are two distinct roles with some key differences around educational requirements, working environments and job duties.

One of the key differences between the role of a teacher and the role of an instructional designer is the educational requirements. Since teachers most commonly work in primary or secondary schools, they are often required to have a relevant degree and take a state-approved training programme in order to become licensed to teach. However, while many instructional designers choose to take an accredited course to fast-track their career, it is not a state requirement to enter the profession.

Another key difference between teachers and instructional designers is the working environments. While teachers primarily work in schools, instructional designers can work in corporations, public service or educational institutes. The option to work in various industries and settings is one reason that the career transition from teacher to instructional designer is so popular.

Since teachers have experience with applying learning theory, planning curriculum, establishing learning objectives, managing a classroom and many other transferable skills, they can readily pivot into an instructional design job. However, as teachers may not have experience with instructional design technologies, graphic design principles or adult learning theory, it’s prudent for teachers to upskill with a specialised instructional design course in order to give their career pivot the best chance of success.

Pivoting careers and the Digital Learning Institute

One of the best aspects of starting a career in instructional design is that it is accessible to professionals at all levels – from recent graduates to career changers. And since the field requires such a diverse skill set, many new instructional designers find that they already possess some transferable skills, such as collaboration or project management. 

However, while many prospective instructional designers may already have some skills required for the job, there is usually a skills gap when it comes to instructional design methods, learning theory, design principles and tools competency. So for this reason, an instructional design certification can be so helpful in closing this gap and helping you advance in your career. 

Whether you have no experience with digital learning or already work in a closely related field, such as education or design, the Digital Learning Institute can equip you with the skills needed to succeed as a digital learning professional. Because the Digital Learning Institute offers flexible cohort-based or self-paced learning options, the Professional Diploma in Digital Learning Design is suitable for all types of learners, including full-time professionals. This enables career changers to smoothly learn the skills to transition without having to commit to a full-time course. 

The Professional Diploma in Digital Learning Design is aimed to prepare learners to hit the ground running directly upon course completion. Covering practical areas of digital learning design, such as UX design principles, the creation of end to end digital learning experiences and the latest tools and technology, the course gives learners the foundational skills and knowledge they need to accelerate their career.