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Create Your Own Roadmap to a Career in Instructional Design and Online Learning (IDOL): Putting Your Plan into Action

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Instructional Designer Roadmap

Are you a passionate and dedicated teacher ready to embark on a new and exciting professional journey? Perhaps you have considered transitioning into a different career path that aligns with your interests and skills. If you find yourself drawn to the world of learning and development within the corporate realm, then the field of instructional design may be just the perfect fit for you!

 In this informative blog post, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of creating a comprehensive roadmap to kickstart your new career in instructional design. We will delve into the essential skills, knowledge, certifications, and degree programs that can pave the way for your success in the dynamic world of instructional design jobs. Additionally, we will explore how to craft an effective action plan, establish a solid online presence, and unlock countless opportunities within this thriving industry.

So, let's waste no time and dive right in! Together, we will lay the foundation for your remarkable journey toward a fulfilling and rewarding career in instructional design.


Step 1: Brainstorm All Necessary Skills: Jobs instructional design

The first step in creating your roadmap to becoming a successful instructional designer involves identifying all the essential skills needed for this field. Effective communication is crucial; you must convey information clearly and concisely to learners. Designing the learning solutions and materials requires creativity and the ability to structure content to promote understanding and engagement. Selecting appropriate technologies involves staying current with the latest tools and platforms for learning solutions that enhance the learning experience.

Assessing student learning is a vital skill that involves evaluating and measuring the effectiveness of instructional materials and methods. To excel in instructional design, it is essential to have a solid understanding of adult learning principles and practices, as these principles inform the design and delivery of effective training programs. Familiarity with different learning models allows you to adapt your curriculum and instructional strategies to suit various learning styles and preferences.

Collaboration is another critical aspect of instructional design, as you will often work closely with multiple stakeholders, such as subject matter experts, trainers, faculty, and learners. Collaborating effectively and navigating different perspectives and priorities is crucial for creating successful learning experiences.

To further refine your roadmap, take the time to explore job descriptions for instructional designers and eLearning developers. Analyze these descriptions to identify the skills, tools, practices, and keywords that are frequently mentioned. This will help you align your skill development efforts with industry expectations and increase your chances of securing your ideal instructional design job.

Job seekers researching instructional designer jobs

If you're looking for a remote instructional design job, researching job descriptions is vital to finding your ideal position. Start by looking at job posts to identify the skills and requirements for these roles. You'll also want to consider what employers find essential, such as experience with specific eLearning platforms or instructional design methodologies. To understand what these jobs pay, look at average salaries for instructional design jobs in your area. Don't forget to pay attention to entry-level and remote instructional design jobs, as they can provide valuable experience and insight into the field. You can identify the type of instructional design or learning and development job that fits you by analyzing job descriptions.

Instructional designers and eLearning developers are in high demand as online learning becomes more popular. Instructional design is the process of creating educational experiences for learners. This can include developing online courses, designing virtual or blended learning experiences, building leadership development programs, and more. On the other hand, learning developers use software applications to create interactive multimedia materials that can be used in various settings.

The most common job titles for instructional design and eLearning development are Instructional Designer, eLearning Developer, Curriculum Designer, Content Developer, Learning Experience Designer (LXD), and Learning Management Systems (LMS) Administrator. Each job title may require different skills and technologies depending on the role you are looking for.

For remote learning design positions, some of the common skills required include knowledge of instructional design principles; strong verbal communication skills; learning objectives; job aids; learning modalities; video scripts; instructor-led training; e-learning; curriculum design; collaborate on a team; ability to adapt content to meet different learner needs; graphic design or publishing experience; familiarity with multimedia software such as Adobe Creative Suite; video editing experience; curriculum aligned lesson presentations; and web development experience. Technology requirements can vary based on the position you are applying for but generally include knowledge of an LMS platform such as Blackboard or Moodle; ability to work with authoring tools such as Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline 360; expertise in course creation using SCORM/xAPI standards; proficiency in rapid development tools like Lectora Inspire or iSpring Suite Pro; and understanding of accessibility guidelines such as WCAG 2.0 AA or Section 508 compliance.

Salary range

Salaries for instructional designers and eLearning developers can vary depending on geographic region and years of experience but generally range from $60K-$90K per year in the US. Qualifications typically include a bachelor’s degree in education-related fields plus three to five years of relevant work experience in instructional design or related fields. Some employers may also require additional certifications specific to their industry or technology platform (e.g., Learning Designer certification).

Making a successful transition into a career in instructional design and eLearning development requires both technical skills and creative problem-solving abilities. To create your own career roadmap, it’s important that you gain knowledge about the roles available within this field by networking with professionals currently working within this space to learn more about their roles/responsibilities as well as what certifications they have obtained, if any. Additionally, you need to take stock of your current skill sets. Hence, you set yourself up for success by obtaining any needed certifications or training from potential employers so that you have everything needed to land your dream job!

Step 2: Identify Skills Gaps: Instructional designer jobs

First, it is essential to list your current skills meticulously. Once you have compiled this comprehensive list, take the time to carefully compare them to the skills outlined in the job descriptions of employers you have researched. During this comparison, delve deeper into each skill and analyze them to identify any gaps or areas for improvement.

Next, reflecting on the specific requirements of the desired business positions is crucial. Assess which skills you currently possess align with those requirements, and identify any skills that may need further development or acquisition. This introspective evaluation will enable you to understand better any areas where you may need to focus your efforts to bridge gaps and enhance your qualifications.

By thoroughly evaluating your skills with the company and job descriptions, you proactively enhance your qualifications and align them with the desired positions. This detailed process will help you identify areas for improvement, allowing the company and you to strategically focus your efforts and further develop the skills necessary to excel in your desired career path.

Teaching and Instructional Designer Skills Gap Example

K-12 teachers and corporate learning designers have different skills required for their respective jobs. K-12 teachers must be familiar with the curriculum standards for their grade level, understand educational theories, and know how to best engage students in the learning process. Corporate learning designers need to understand the goals of the company or organization they are working with and be familiar with adult learning theory and eLearning software.

Common skills gaps between k-12 teachers and corporate instructional designers include technology use, content analysis, pedagogical knowledge, evaluation design, and project management. K-12 teachers are accustomed to using technology in the classroom for teaching activities such as creating presentations or providing feedback on student assignments. Corporate instructional designers utilize technology differently, creating interactive courses ranging from short videos to long-term simulations. Content analysis is another difference between k-12 teachers and corporate instructional designers; K-12 teachers focus on student comprehension, while corporate learning designers focus on designing content based on research and industry trends which goes beyond simply understanding curriculum standards. Pedagogical knowledge is also a joint gap between these two roles; K-12 teachers often focus on developing lesson plans, while corporate instructional designers must consider how to teach a concept and when it should be taught within a course or program. The evaluation design is one more skill gap; whereas k-12 teachers may rely heavily on student assessments such as tests or papers, corporate instructional designers must develop strategies that evaluate if learners are mastering the course material before progressing. Lastly, project management is an area where corporate instructional designers will have an advantage over k-12 teachers; those working in corporate instruction must manage multiple projects simultaneously, each with its own set of deadlines and deliverables.

K-12 Teachers who wish to become corporate instructional designers will need to work on developing their technology skills, researching content strategies, expanding their pedagogical knowledge base, perfecting evaluation designs, and becoming proficient in project management techniques to transition into this role successfully. Additionally, it would be beneficial for them to explore current trends in adult education and familiarize themselves with popular eLearning software systems used by corporations in training jobs. With dedication and hard work, these skills can be learned, allowing them to successfully transition from a k-12 teacher to a professional Instructional Designer job.

Step 3: Develop an Action Plan: Instructional Technology

Once you've identified the specific skills you need to develop, it's time to create a comprehensive action plan to land your job. Ensure that your goals are SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Consider enrolling in relevant courses or acquiring certifications from reputable institutions to gain the necessary skills and expertise.

Additionally, explore degree programs, vocational schools like IDOL Academy, or specialized certifications accredited universities offer to enhance your knowledge and credentials. This can include online programs or part-time studies that fit your schedule. By pursuing formal education, you can access structured learning and guidance from experienced university instructors and faculty.

Remember that your learning journey can also combine self-paced learning. This allows for a flexible, engaging, personalized approach that fits your learning style and preferences. You can explore online resources, tutorials, and communities dedicated to your chosen field. Engage in practice exercises, projects, and challenges to apply your knowledge and develop practical skills.

After identifying your learning path, take the time to sketch out a detailed timeline that outlines your milestones and objectives. Break your goals into smaller, manageable tasks and set deadlines for each. Dedicate regular intervals each week to learning and actively building your portfolio. This could include working on projects, creating work samples, or participating in relevant competitions or events.

It's essential to be realistic about your commitments and remain flexible in your approach, adapting as needed. Life can be unpredictable, so be prepared to adjust your plan when necessary. Remember that success is achieved through persistent effort and dedication over an extended period. Stay motivated, stay focused, and keep pushing forward toward your goals.

Find an Accountability Partner

One effective strategy for staying on track with your plan and progress is identifying an accountability partner, organization, or group. Having someone who can hold you accountable and provide support can significantly increase your chances of success. You can stay focused on achieving your goals by leveraging the power of relationships.

Setting both short-term and long-term milestones for yourself is beneficial to ensure consistent progress. These milestones mark your progress and give you something to strive for. Additionally, scheduling regular check-ins with your accountability partner(s) can help you stay committed and aligned with your goals.

Remember to celebrate each small success along the way! Recognizing and rewarding your achievements, no matter how small, can keep you motivated and inspired to continue working towards your larger goal. So, take the time to acknowledge and appreciate your progress – it's an integral part of the journey.

Step 4: Create an Online Presence

To establish a solid online presence that highlights your instructional designer skills, consider creating dedicated websites or social media profiles solely focused on this field. On these platforms, showcase your portfolio and project work and present case studies showcasing your expertise and capabilities.

Additionally, leverage the power of social media to build meaningful relationships and connect with your students and other professionals within the instructional design industry. Engaging with other instructional designers in this way can help expand your professional network, opening doors to potential job opportunities.

LinkedIn is Your Friend

LinkedIn is one of the best ways to build your professional network and help you land a job. You can use the platform to create a complete profile that showcases your skills, experience, and education. Additionally, you can join various groups within the platform related to your field of interest, allowing you to connect with other professionals in the industry and build relationships. Furthermore, you can post updates about yourself and your work and share content related to the industry you’re interested in. This will help you establish yourself as an authority on the topics. Finally, contact recruiters or potential employers directly on LinkedIn by sending them messages or requesting informational interviews. Doing so will demonstrate your enthusiasm for working with them and give them a better sense of your professional identity.

By devoting time and effort to developing your online presence, you can effectively demonstrate your skills, create valuable business connections, and enhance your chances of securing rewarding opportunities in the field of instructional design.

Step 5: Apply Your Skills

Finally, it's time to put your skills into practice and start applying them. Contact potential clients, employers, or collaborators who could benefit from your expertise. Showcase the skills you have developed through your portfolio or case studies, allowing them a glimpse into your capabilities.


To gain experience and demonstrate your skills further, consider offering free consultation work to friends or small businesses. This not only helps you build a track record but also allows you to contribute to the success of others. Moreover, you can assist your university or local school district create instructional content and contribute to your community's education.

Don't limit yourself to traditional avenues. Look for volunteer opportunities or freelancing work on platforms like Upwork, which can expose you to various industries and projects. You can also contact local small businesses and inquire if they need any training or assistance, opening up additional possibilities to apply your skills in the real world.

By exploring various avenues, you can gain practical experience, establish meaningful connections, and make a positive impact by applying your skills.

Future instructional designers be encouraged

Staying encouraged while applying for roles in learning design can be daunting. With job listings often requiring years of experience and an impressive portfolio, it’s easy to become discouraged. However, there are numerous ways to stay positive and motivated throughout the application process.

First and foremost, focus on building up your portfolio and network. Adding new pieces to your portfolio that showcase your skillset demonstrates to potential employers that you are keeping up with industry trends and actively refining your craft. Additionally, cultivating relationships with other professionals in the learning design space allows you to learn from their experiences and connect with hiring managers or recruiters who can potentially provide feedback or guidance on your career path.

It is also essential to keep developing your skills during the application process. Staying fresh on changes in software or technology related to learning design will help you stand out as an applicant. Joining online forums or attending webinars are great ways to stay abreast of the latest tools and technologies available. Utilizing these resources not only boosts confidence when presenting yourself at job interviews but also provides a valuable outlet for networking with like-minded professionals who may be able to provide helpful tips on how best to land that dream role.

Finally, it is essential to remember why you wanted a career in learning design in the great place in the first place. Remind yourself daily of the goals you have set for yourself; do some research into successful people in the industry who are doing what you aspire to do; create a mood board filled with inspiring quotes and images, or even take a break from applying if needed—whatever helps keep you motivated! All of these will help keep spirits high, so you’ll be ready and excited for opportunities when opportunities arise!


Follow your IDOL journey.

Creating a roadmap for a New career in instructional design is an exciting and worthwhile endeavor. By identifying the necessary skills, developing an action plan, finding an accountability partner, and building an online presence, you can put yourself in a solid position to succeed. Remember to celebrate your successes along the way, stay flexible in your approach, and lean on your network for support and guidance. Good luck on your journey toward a fulfilling new career!

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