Looking for your first job out of teaching can be frustrating and confusing. What do you do with your experience? Who will hire you? Wonder no more. Here’s the next spotlight of great jobs for former teachers:
Did you know that there’s a word for teachers int he work place? It’s called “Instructional Design,” and it’s a great way to transition out of the classroom and into the adult education world.
Instructional designers design educational experiences for a range of audiences. The audience is usually very specific, such as “military spouses,” or “IT/cloud computing customers,” or “donors.” They use good curriculum development practices to speak to these learners in the most effective ways, often developing PowerPoint-like visual learning experiences to go along with them.
An ISD position is best for the teacher who loooooves writing curriculum and developing learning experiences but no longer wishes to present them or be in front of the classroom. As an ISD, you may present your finished project to your team or to a client, but there is usually not much actual teaching or presenting involved throughout the job.
Interested? Here’s a rundown of the important skill sets for an instructional design position.
Instructional designers need to understand how people learn and how to give people the best user experience (UX) when learning online. That’s the most important connection between ISD and teaching. Your job focuses on building a learning experience that meets specific education requirements, just like standardized testing. You also need excellent collaboration skills because you’ll be working with other people to build your curriculum, such as graphic designers and project managers.
Personally, I think teachers are automatically qualified to be ISDs. However, there are certification and education opportunities for formalize your education such as Walden University’s MS in Instructional Design and Technology and Virginia Tech’s Instructional Design and Technology Program. You may also be able to find online education opportunities, but be sure to work with a credited institution. You can also search Coursera, a free online class tool, to find ISD-related classes. You won’t get any credit, but it will look fantastic on your resume and it will allow you to try out the career before you make the leap.
Just like teaching strategies have different names, so do ISD strategies. Important ones to brush up on (or to take a certification course in), include ADDIE, Rapid Prototyping, Dick and Carey, IDLS, and more. Important ISD technologies to become familiar with (by downloading a free trial and experimenting) include Articulate, Adobe Captivate, and others. Read a great comparison of the softwares here.
You can try to DIY your way into an ISD position by learning the specific ISD strategies used to design curriculum on your own and speaking to your experience using these strategies in the classroom. You may find that the lesson plans you have already written closely align to ADDIE, Rapid Prototyping, or Dick and Carey models, etc.
ISDs can expect starting salaries in the area of $65,000-$70,000 per year. Formal certifications, practical experience, and niche skills (say, if you specialize in reading an ESL audience, or something like that) can help your salary rise into the $80,000-$90,000 range.
Example Job Descriptions
Here are a few random project management positions around the web so you can get a feel for what the job would be like (if the links don’t work, try searching Simply Hired directly).
- Instructional Designer for a health insurance company
- Instructional Designer for a software company
- Instructional Designer for a publisher
- Instructional Designer for a staffing company