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Leaving the Classroom Episode 17: How Much Do Instructional Designers Make

#instructionaldesign #instructionaldesigners #instructionaldesignsalary #leaving the classroom podcast #leavingtheclassroom #teachersalary Jun 27, 2023

Leaving the Classroom: A Transitioning Teacher Podcast

How Much Do Instructional Designer Make? Plus 5 Factors That Affect Salary 

How does an instructional designer's salary compare to a teacher's salary? There are several factors to consider. In this episode, I discuss the 5 factors that can affect how much you make as an instructional designer, plus I give you some insight into how much you can make compared to a teaching role.

Listen to the episode here:

Connect with Kristi on LinkedIn  and Monica on LinkedIn

Enjoy the podcast transcription:

Hello, everyone. Welcome to leaving the classroom. I'm Kristi Oliva. I'm so glad you are here today. And today I'm talking about pay salary. How does an instructional designer salary compare to a teacher's salary? Well, according to world population, the average teacher salary in the US is $66,397 per year, which comes out to $33 an hour. New York teachers make the most at 92,000 a year and Mississippi teachers take the bottom at $47,000 a year. However, there are some things to consider. Did you know and I bet you do that teachers spend an average of $750 a year on school supplies for their classrooms. On average, teachers work 53.3 hours a week teaching and doing school related work. In the US teachers spend an average of 998 hours in the classroom teaching each year. That's just teaching time. That doesn't count for grading after school activities, adjunct duties, professional development, teacher in service days, all this stuff.

Not only was I usually working a second job in the evenings, but then I would usually work an additional job in the summer. If I wasn't teaching summer school, I worked at a Nike store, I taught gymnastics, I worked the cash register at Home Depot, I tutored. So many part time jobs just to make it by.

So, now that we know those numbers, how does that compare to the world of instructional design? According to Glassdoor, the average instructional designer salary is $78,150. So we're taking a $12,000 jump, just in the average, with the salary range being 52,000 per year, 217 per year. The 78,000 is the median salary listed on the page and the sample jobs listed are all corporate roles. So that is something to consider. I'm not sure if they accounted for the other ID sectors like health care, government, higher ed, freelance, contract work. I also found that many of the websites I researched to find the average salaries often had roles that were not instructional designers listed as sample positions such as product designers or graphic designers. And those aren't quite the same thing. So these numbers might not be completely accurate. And this is affecting the salary ranges they're quoting. However, I can speak from personal experience, that the 78,000 as a median salary is pretty accurate.

The first job offer I got when I left teaching was for $67,000 a year and I accepted that with no negotiation, no hesitation. First of all, I didn't know how to negotiate and second of all, that nearly doubled my salary as a teacher. So who was I to complain I was thrilled. A year later, I accepted my second position at a salary of 90,000 a year and a year later moved to six figures and it's only up from here.

Now when you're going to consider what your salary could be moving into instructional design, there are several factors that may affect how much you make as an instructional designer. So let's review those. The first one is location. Just like in real estate, where you work actually has a significant impact on how much you can expect to make. Based on the findings of the elearning guilds global elearning salary and compensation report. The salary of elearning professionals in Australia was an average of $75,000. India had an average of 38,000 per year. Even the salaries within the United States can vary greatly. It all depends on where you live. And even if you hold a remote position, many times your company will factor where you live into your compensation offer. I know that they did at Amazon.

Alright, the next thing to consider is your knowledge of the technology. The tools and technologies of instructional design are always changing and evolving. Someone who stays on top of trends and learns about the newest elearning tools is more likely to earn more. So make sure you do your research and find out the tools and trends that are the most current but also make sure, you know, the good old tried and true, they're both valuable. In Episode 12, I talk more about the instructional design technologies you need to know. So go back and listen to that episode to learn what technologies you need to know in order to raise that salary minimum.

Number three is experience level. According to, which is an online salary database, instructional designers earn a median salary of $59,000. That was back in 2015. They also note that in entry level, instructional designers in the United States had a median salary of 56,000, but experienced instructional designers had a median annual salary of 78,000. So for this reason, it's really a good idea to seize every opportunity to gain experience. For example, you can attend workshops, get some certificates, volunteer for projects that develop specific skills, but experience is difficult to gain, especially when you're new to the career field, and you need to learn. When I was first transitioning into instructional design, I volunteered and did free work for my brother in law's business, that's a great way to gain some experience. But guess what, at IDOL courses, we have a solution for that. As a member, you have access to paid work opportunities, as well as volunteer experience, too. We got you.

Alright, number four is a position or the title that you hold. So the position you have in the company is one of the most significant determinants of your future elearning salary. Like if you're in a leadership role, such as the manager of an l&d team, you will earn more than those who don't have a leadership role. But you're also going to have more responsibilities, and those roles might be harder to get if you have not worked in the l&d space in corporate.

Alright, number five, is your education. Now, a lot of elearning professionals who have their higher degrees in instructional design, like a doctorate or a master's will earn more than those who do not. It's just a fact, not only does the degree carry weight, but the experience and knowledge that come along with it adds some value. And those who are willing to pursue degrees show that they're determined, focused and ready to take the initiative. They want to learn everything they can about the elearning industry, and employers usually pay more for their expertise. Well, IDOL Courses Academy is the first and only state authorized vocational school for instructional design and online learning development. It's a great way to earn your certificate. And there are employers who have asked for us by name. So if you're new to the world of instructional design and would like to know more about how to get started, visit We have free resources to help you get started like a quiz to help you determine if instructional design is right for you, a vision board template and more. So check it out. When you join IDOL Courses Academy we help you build your professional portfolio, revise your resume, prepare for interviews and give you valuable feedback on what you design. Sign up for IDOL courses Academy using my code CLASSROOM100 and get $100 off enrollment today. It's time to take control and make the career change that will change your life. It changed mine. See you next time.

Send your stories or your questions to [email protected] or share them with me on Instagram  @leavingtheclassroom.