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Credentialed Program Options for Aspiring IDOLs

academy become an idol become an instructional designer blog certification comparison credentials elearning idol courses academy instructional design instructional designer online learning program May 21, 2020

When you want to land your first corporate instructional design and online learning developer job, there are several options for programs that want to help you get there. To help you research the options available and make a decision based on the requirements you need, I’ve created a table. Before I share the table, I want to share the job application assets and skills you need before you even start to apply. This way, you’ll know what you should look for in a program before you enroll.


  1. EXPERIENCE. You’ll need experience in instructional design. I know this gets really frustrating for many who want to transition into this career field because they ask, “how can I get experience if they won’t hire someone without experience?” And while there are several workaround answers to this question, the fact remains that you can’t get around the requirement for experience. Does the program add to the experience section on your resume?
  2. Job Application Assets
    1. PORTFOLIO. You need a good looking and polished portfolio.  Your portfolio needs to show your skills, design thinking, and it needs to appeal to a corporate hiring manager.  The portfolio you created in grad school is not going to cut it.
    2. RESUME. There is no doubt that you’ll need a resume and a darn good one.  Actually, make that two! You’ll need a text version and a pretty version of your resume. Your resume will need to target an instructional design job description and hit all the keywords, so the applicant tracking system doesn’t screen you out.  The pretty version is for emailing hiring managers directly, and for your portfolio because as an IDOL, people are looking for excellent visual communication skills as well as course design.
    3. LINKEDIN PROFILE. Lastly, you need a LinkedIn profile that will get you the right kind of attention from recruiters and hiring managers. This means keywords, design, links, recommendations, and skills.
    4. Does the program help you build all the assets you need to land an IDOL job?
  3. FEEDBACK. I added feedback because, as an IDOL, the main characteristic of your job is to request and implement feedback from stakeholders, SMEs, learners, and team members. You’ll need to take feedback from a growth mindset. You can love your job but not your work. This is a key skill that will enable you to grow into a practitioner in our field. Does the program include deliberate practice?
  4. IDOL KNOWLEDGE. This is obvious, but it’s worth saying anyway.  To land a job in this wonderful field, you need to know how to develop eLearning, how to design a course, apply learning theories, and implement ID models into your practice.  Not only do you need to know these things on the surface level, but you also need to know them by reflex.  Instructional design only becomes a reflex through deliberate practice. When you get to the interview, you will be asked questions about your knowledge of theory, how you work with difficult SMEs, how you’ll manage projects, and to prove your skills through some kind of assessment. To be able to answer these questions with confidence and pass the test, you’ll need to have the experience of practice and implementing feedback. Otherwise, you’ll show up unsure of yourself, and your abilities and your interviewers will smell it on you. Does the program teach you instructional design from theory to the application?
  5. TECH APTITUDE. There is no getting around the technical side of IDOL. More and more programs are built and designed to be online. This means you have to get familiar with some of the tools IDOLs use to bring online course content to life. The tools required in most job descriptions include Articulate Storyline, Rise, Captivate, Vyond, Camtasia, PowerPoint, and some kind of Learning Management System. Does the program give you hands-on tech training? Does the program provide you with templates, tools, and assets to help you build first-class learning materials?
  6. PEOPLE. People who support you and are on the same journey as you are priceless. Having a community who gets it when you can't figure out the tech, don't know which graphic looks better, or where to find answers covers over so much of the frustration that comes with trying to do this all by yourself.  When you're ready to start applying for positions, the best way to get a job is to know someone. And what about after you land your job? Will your network still be there to support you? Does the program you select have a network of instructional designers that will cheer you on through your journey?

Ok, now that you know what you need to make the transition and become an IDOL, here are your credentialed program options. 

ATD Master Instructional Designer Program: The ATD Master Instructional Designer™ program covers the entire process of analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of learning programs. Explore new design models and techniques, evaluate real-world projects, and work with expert facilitators.

Allen Academy

Based on the industry-leading ideas from Michael Allen’s Guide to e-Learning, this program will fundamentally change the way you perceive the design and development of e-learning and the possibilities for success! You’ll learn both critical design principles and the skills you need with the tools you’re already using to make a performance difference in your organization.

Completion of this program earns you an Allen Certified Instructional Professional (ACIP) Level 1 credential

IDOL courses Academy: The IDOL courses Academy is the only implementation program of its kind that not only shows you exactly how to create your job application assets and build a portfolio from scratch, but it also includes 5 micro-credentials, mentorship, and paid experience opportunities in instructional design and online learning for life! 

In addition, the IDOL courses programs have been pre-approved by the ATD Certification Institute for continuing education credits towards professional development hours for initial eligibility and recertification of the Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD) and Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) credentials. This program has been approved for a maximum of 40 points. 

The IDOL courses Academy was built by IDOLs for IDOLs.  We know what it truly takes to land a corporate instructional design and eLearning job, and it's not just knowledge. We also know you'll need support after you land your first IDOL job. That's why we built a program that is for the people by the people and not for a company. 

The IDOL courses Academy is like the trade school of instructional design and online learning.  Yes, you'll learn theory, models, and frameworks, but the practice of instructional design happens in the flow of work. The only way to accelerate your skills, land a job, and learn the practice of workplace learning is through deliberate feedback. 

Another credential or certificate is not what makes you prepared to become an IDOL. Unless the program is focused on the activities and feedback that help you build portfolio assets, gives you the confidence to create meaningful learning experiences, and shows you how to prepare your job application assets, you'll be in the same place you were before you started the course.

I could preach about the benefits of joining the IDOL courses Academy, but nothing speaks louder than RESULTS. 


In Love 💚 & Learning 📝,

Dr. Robin Sargent

P.S. The IDOL courses Academy is open for enrollment only 3 times a year. Click here for all the details.