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he edtech industry continues to grow, as learning providers and corpoate actors adopt e-learning methods and technologies.

What does it mean for teachers, experts, or course creators? Or institutions and businesses? That having a solid learning program or system will be in pretty high demand! So will the role of instructional designer!

Whether you're entering the field, seeking ways to get there, or already an educational designer, buckle up for insights.

Read on to know more about the instructional designers are, what they do, the skills you need, and steps on how to become an instructional designer.

What is an Instructional Designer? 

An instructional designer is responsible for planning and creating an educational environment and experience to meet a learning outcome. 

Instructional designers are tasked with the duty of conceiving instructional materials, curriculums, and learning methods that are engaging to the students. 

These professionals work with online academies, corporate entities, and other educational institutions to help them achieve their training objectives. In particular, if a company wants to train its employees, an Instructional designer will draw the learning guides for each relevant skill. They also determine which employees should take certain courses and what form the training will take.  

Instructional Design Trends: There is a Demand

The growth of online learning over the past decade has been outstanding. It is a very lucrative industry with projected revenues of $166.60 billion in 2023 and with potential to grow at a CAGR of 9.3% between 2023 and 2027. This growth is expected to yield $238.40 billion in 2027.

As more educational institutions and corporate organizations adopt e-learning, the role of an instructional designer has become critical to improve learning experiences. An instructional designer career is a great fit if you are passionate about research and creating innovative learning outcomes. It is a rewarding career with an average salary of $68,445 annually. The demand for these educational professionals means you must develop skills to survive in this competitive field. 

What Does an Instructional Designer Do? 

Think of it this way: courses, course creators, learners, and learning systems. Who knits all these parts together and designs a curriculum with relevant topics for course creators to follow? That is what an instructional designer does. Course builders need a template and reference point from which to create courses. The instruction designer takes care of this important duty and provides insight on how to get the course information across to learners. 

In specific terms, the job of an instructional designer includes the following. 

1. Consult with Subject Matter Experts 

Instructional designers are often not experts in many subjects. They are researchers who deeply dive into the area of concern to understand what it's about. Therefore they have to work with the experts in these areas to draw out needed information to guide the curriculum content. For example, if a company wants courses on healthy living and lifestyle management, a designer would typically talk to doctors, nutritionists, and lifestyle experts to understand the topic to fashion a curriculum. 

They interview the experts to have a broad knowledge of the subject and determine the lesson outcomes. 

In specific detail, the following are the duties of instructional designers. 

2. Design Learning Processes 

This important duty involves comprehension of learning objectives, how to achieve these objectives, and the duration of learning to reach these objectives. Taking all this information, the instructional designer creates a curriculum for course creators, tutors, and learners to implement. 

It is also at this stage that they formulate learning theories and resources. Here the educational designer uses a bird's-eye approach to design a storyboard from where the curriculum, learning outcomes, and type of coaching (one-on-one, cohort-based, MOOC, or community-based models) are formed. 

3. Evaluate Learning Objectives 

An important part of their jobs is curating learners' learning experiences and assessing lessons' impact on them. The good thing about online learning is the capacity to take on-the-spot assessments using analytics and feedback mechanisms to determine the success of a course. 

An instructional designer creates a system to monitor the impact of classes on the students. For instance, test or assignment assessments to test the learners' knowledge after classes. The instructional designer also determines the frequency of these tests and can design better systems in the future with this feedback. 

4. Develop Multimedia Learning Tools

As we all know, multimedia formats like video, photos, animation, graphics, etc., are all part and parcel of learning. The educational designer acting on the knowledge derived from the subject matter experts designs suitable multimedia for visually appealing content to complement the course curriculum. 

Remember that the designer is the brains behind online lessons, and he provides the guide for tutors and mentors to follow. Visual cues have become a key fixture of online learning; therefore, he has to create multimedia content in addition to a text-based curriculum. 

Instructional Designer Skills To Know

If you want to become an instructional designer or hire an instructional design expert, these are the skills you should note. 

Research skills

As an Instructional designer, you don't want to present half-baked information to your learners. You must thoroughly research the courses and subjects to get the full information. In addition, you must stay on top of the latest trends and happenings in education and online technology to keep content fresh and engaging. 


A great lesson is one learners fully understand and meet the learning objectives. A good instructional designer must know how to communicate his points to tutors and learners orally, especially in writing. He must be approachable and open to criticism after all, he is working in a team with other professionals. 

People Management

The job of an instructional designer involves collaboration with other experts and professionals. He is like a project manager coordinating several people towards a goal. Therefore as an ID, you must be able to relate with people to build a team spirit. If you are deficient in this skill, there is a higher risk of the project failing. 

Time Management

An instructional designer is pressed for time as he handles different tasks simultaneously. Therefore, managing your time becomes critical. An Instructional designer must be able to maximize the limited available to create 


Creativity sets you apart and helps your courses to be more impactful. For instructional designers, creativity is important for interactive and visually stimulating courses. Studies show that after three days, the human mind can retain 65% of what was learned visually compared to 20% for voice or text lessons. Learning has gone beyond text-only methods and now incorporates videos, graphics, audio, and pictures. 

How to Become an Instructional Designer?

Learning how to become an instructional designer is a rewarding choice, and the good thing is that you don't have to possess a degree to become one. The following steps will show you how to get into instructional design quickly.

Step#1. Understand Learning Theories, Models, and Principles 

Instructional designers typically employ learning models to create the best possible means of knowledge acquisition for learners. Some common models include the ADDIE model, Action Mapping, Gagne’s Nine Events, Mayer's principle of multimedia learning, and Kirkpatrick's evaluation model. 

💡For instance, Action Mapping, designed by Cathy Moore, is highly used in the corporate training of large enterprises. Rather than focusing on imparting knowledge derived from subject matter experts, it identifies a specific area to upskill staff on. There is a clear goal, and the instruction manual is geared toward meeting that goal.

What do all these models and theories mean? They offer ways and approaches with which you can create the most effective learning programs. The main reason is that they cover fundamental concepts related to behaviorism, contrctuvism and cognitive theory, affecting the student’s behavior, perception, and knowldge retention. 

Further Reading: Key Instructional Design Principles

Step#2. Know How to Use Supportive Tools

Another important step in how to become an instructional designer is proficiency in software for instruction design. Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Illustrator are some of the software you need when creating a learning curriculum. You should also learn to make multimedia files like videos and graphics to enrich your content. YouTube is a great place to learn how to make videos and other multimedia content. 

Step#3. Hone Your Skills 

The best way to master a skill is to practice it till you become a pro Identify an area you have some knowledge in, research it thoroughly, and try to author some instructional manuals. Another way to sharpen your skills is to follow samples online and create your template. You could also volunteer to create curriculums for local schools or small companies around you. The point is to put into practice all that you have learned. 

Step#4. Have a Portfolio

The next step is to create a portfolio of the projects you have executed or mock projects. If you want to get into instructional design, your portfolio will speak for you. Recruiters are more interested in what you have done rather than, particularly your qualifications.

In the portfolio, highlight your strengths, like multimedia design, problem-solving, and curriculum building. Your portfolio gives you quick visibility and makes you more desirable. For a more professional outlook, create a website and add a link to your portfolio. 

Step#5. Seek Feedback 

Whether you are learning how to become an instructional designer or a professional instructional designer, you must be willing to take feedback on your work. Feedback gives you real reviews of how good your work is or where you need to improve. This way, you keep improving your skills and create more effective content. 

Step#6. Go for Advanced Study

Yes, we said you don't need a certificate to be an instructional designer. However, for professional development, you need to look for opportunities to further learn about the field. Take online courses, and attend seminars and conferences to build knowledge. Remember learning never ends, so keep pursuing professional development. 

Step#7. Keep up with Instructional Design and e-learning Trends.

Different trends are always popping up in the fast-paced world of online learning. For instance, cohort-based and game-based learning are some of the top trends to look out for in 2024. Innovative technologies for easy learning, like ChatGPT and AI, are also making waves. Take a keen interest in the latest developments in online education to keep you current. 

Step#8. Apply For Jobs

After doing all the above, prepare a resumé and apply for instructional designer jobs. Use professional job sites like LinkedIn to connect with recruiters and submit your resume. 

Final Thoughts 

An instructional design career is an interesting one with lots of creativity required. Now you have seen the practical steps in how to become an instructional designer. 

With this guide, you too can chart a career in instructional design or improve your skills if you are in the sector already. To make it easier, you can use the EducateMe platform to create instructional manuals and put your skills to work. 

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