Is instructional design a good career? (8 Things to Know!)

Whether you are new to the field or maybe a teacher looking to move into a new industry where you can still utilize your well-honed skills, you may be asking yourself the question, is instructional design a good career, well on the whole, the answer is definitely yes.


Instructional designers enjoy varied responsibilities, lots of autonomy, they are well compensated and are get to work on truly value-adding projects.

If you want a career that enables you to make real change to an organization’s learning and development goals, becoming an instructional designer is a great choice.

But is instructional design a good career? Well, let’s find out.

Is instructional design a good career?

Learning with a bookcase of books
Image by ElasticComputeFarm from Pixabay

Being an instructional designer is an amazing choice of career, well done is you’ve already made the jump, but to really succeed, you need to love the idea of learning. The want to continually progress your knowledge and always be on the lookout for learning new things as a part of your job, well, then instructional design may very well be a great choice for you.

Please be aware, this job is not for people who do not enjoy learning or find it a fun endeavour. If you feel learning is a chore, a different career path might be the better way to go.

2) Strong technology skills are a must.

Is instructional design a good career?

Is instructional design a good career?
Photo by Burak the Weekender

Honestly, if you love being a technical expert and enjoy learning new technologies and being the go to professional, then Instructional design could very well be your perfect career choice.

Back in the day, technology was not always the biggest requirement, especially if you were in more of a facilitation-like role, but nowadays with the prevalence of facilitation over zoom or Teams, understanding technology is a must.

Related: Do Instructional Designers Really Need Technology Skills?

As an instructional designer, some of the applications you’ll want to start learning are software such as: Articulate Storyline, Rise and Adobe Captivate for eLearning authoring, Camtasia for creating training videos and light video editing, Adobe After Effects, Premiere and DaVinci Resolve for corporate video production.

These platforms are the go-to software that you will need to know if you want to get ahead and will serve you well in the employment market.

In my role, I use each of these platforms with Articulate being the major system providing the bulk of my eLearning creation ability. If you can only learn one or a couple of products, go with Articulate Storyline and/or Rise, it will increase your employability tenfold IMO.

Related: Can Online Learning Replace Traditional Learning? (7 Facts To Know!) 

3) Project Management abilities are super important

Is instructional design a good career?

This one is huge, and frankly doesn’t get spoken about anywhere near enough. An instructional designer worth their salt in this industry has to have the ability to assess, scope and control a learning project effectively.

As you move through the ID industry, you’ll learn how to develop needs assessments, project plans, timelines, Gant charts, design documents, and a ton more.

These are important skills for you as the designer, but also, it’s a way of you helping to guide your SME’s, stakeholders and partners through the process, especially if they haven’t contributed to eLearning and L&D work before.

These are skills I personally have made great strides to develop, and it has been a tremendous help to me, and has assisted me in creating better learning solutions at the end of the day.

4) Working with and supporting SME’s

Is instructional design a good career?

Working with smes
Photo by Pixabay

SME’s or Subject Matter Experts are going to be the people you work with who will make or break your projects. These people could be internal or external co-workers or contacts that have in-depth topical knowledge that you need to create your learning solution(s), so being able to effectively work with them is a crucial aspect of being an ID.

Related: Working with SMEs: Dr. Luke Hobson’s 8-Step Framework to Building Effective Relationships, & Courses

It’s important that you are able to guide SME’s through the course development process as it may be new to them, and as they have the content knowledge you require, making them comfortable with the process will be a great way to work collaboratively to help develop your training resource(s).

Also, when working with SME’s you need to learn to take a step back and not be the star of the show, they are the star’s and you are controlling the process and guiding them in the right direction, if you are good with that role, definitely give instructional design a shot.

5) Assessment ability will massively help you out

Is instructional design a good career?

Photo by Pixabay

When you start an instructional design project, right at the beginning, after the kickoff meeting, a good instructional designer should be conducting a needs-based assessment. This is not a skill that many of us are born with, and it takes time and practice to develop.

The main components of a needs assessment are the following:

  • What is the performance issue the company/team is facing?
  • What do you want them to be able to do that they are not doing now?
  • What approach should we use to close the performance gap?

If you enjoy analytical thinking, asking questions and being a true problem solver, then instructional design could seriously be a great career choice, just remember that not everyone is good at everything, so even if assessment writing is not your bag, you can still be a great instructional designer, believe that!

6) Passionate about helping others learn

Is instructional design a good career?

The most successful instructional designers I’ve ever worked with have a true passion about helping people learn, it’s what makes them tick, and they live for it.

For me, it was about seeing learners get that “lightbulb moment”, seeing them finally “get it” after trying to learn something in other ways, and if I can make that breakthrough, you get that butterfly feeling, you know.

Honestly, when it comes down to it, if you love the idea of helping people learn and become better at their jobs, well, then you have a fighting chance to make an amazing career for yourself in instructional design.

7) Visual Design skills are an underestimated need

Is instructional design a good career?

Whichever medium or format of learning you are developing, being able to create aesthetically pleasing, good looking content is key to engagement levels of learners. Can you imagine creating amazing content, but if it’s poorly put together, poorly designed, and learners find it boring and too linear, it’s a recipe of mediocrity.

To be a great instructional designer and be successful, developing your visual design abilities is a must. This could be from graphic design, animation, UI and UX design or a mixture of the above.

Thinking about our title, is instructional design a good career?, honestly, it is, but you gotta get those visual design skills on point, then it can be very fruitful.

Instructional designers need a creative streak to be able to show their instructional vision in a way that is appealing.

Practice, practice and practice again with work at home, build your portfolio, work on digital artwork, whatever you can do to build your creative skills.

That is the way to become truly great, and make your visual design skills epic, which by default will help in your instructional design journey.

8) Developing your instructional design skills is fundamental.

Is instructional design a good career?

As an instructional designer, being able to develop content that is simple to understand and illustrates the instructions needed to perform a particular task is absolutely fundamental to get right and develop skills in.

Leave any instructional content out, then learners won’t have enough to learn with, but add too much, it can become confusing.

How can you develop these skills though?

The way I learned was to develop a lot of job aids.

I know, I know, job aids are a little old school, but honestly, they are great to work with because they usually are one pager’s, and you have to be very regimented to work all the require instructions into such a small space.

If you enjoy developing instructional content that helps people perform their jobs more efficiently, then 100%, go for an instructional design role within the L&D industry, looks like you’ll fit right in.

Final Thoughts

So, is instructional design a good career? Well, I’m definitely biased, and I would say a resounding yes!

It’s not easy and you have a lot to juggle with competing priorities, but having or developing the skills listed above will put you in an amazing position for success.

I honestly think if you enjoy helping people learn, have strong abilities to make the learning process easier for people, enjoy the theory of learning, and have a flair for creativity, then you could be a real success In the L&D industry as an instructional designer.

If you do go into an instructional design role, please write us a comment on this post and let us know if this post helped.

So when we ask the question, is instructional design a good career? We’d say 100% yes, definitely a great career to go for. 

Ok, that’s it for this one, catch you guys soon.


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