A career as an Instructional Designer; where to begin…?

As a Recruitment Consultant specialising in E-learning, I frequently get asked a question which, in all honesty, I struggle to answer with any degree of clarity or conviction. It is a question asked most often by recent graduates or young people interested in a career change; “can you advise me of the best route into a career in Instructional Design?”


Initially, I advise that Instinct E-learning do not specialise in graduate or entry level roles and therefore we are unable to help directly. That said, as a specialist E-learning Consultant, I feel obliged to offer advice, being one of only a small number of recruiters who purely focus in E-learning. The bottom line is that I should know where to point people in this situation!


I was therefore hoping that I could share a few of my pre-existing thoughts on the best route into a career in Instructional Design and then open it out to people working in the industry (or, indeed people who hire entry level ID’s) to provide their input. Hopefully this will allow me to provide a more insightful answer the next time a budding ID picks up the phone for advice.


Currently, my initial suggestion to candidates is to look into university degrees which relate directly to the E-learning industry. For example, I’m reliably informed that the University of Edinburgh have a reputable MSc course in Digital Education. However, I’d like to know what the industry perception is of such courses; do employers value these? Do the degree programmes give the individuals the business skills required to succeed?


In my experience the CV’s of good Instructional Designers often start with a background in face to face training or education. It would be great to hear from people who have taken this route and whether they have any advice from their personal career journey.


I’ve also encountered a debate about the composition of the instructional design role recently and whether the ID role should also include a strong knowledge of E-learning development / use of authoring tools or should be more focused on pedagogy and strong learning design. Of course there are conflicting schools of thought on this and in truth, all companies have different ways of working and therefore require different skills from an ID, but would you recommend learning an authoring tool such as Articulate to kick start a career as an ID?


All advice and debate on this is gratefully welcomed. In particular, I would appreciate input from both existing ID’ who can share their story, and the thoughts of hiring managers outlining key qualities they look for when hiring somebody without prior industry experience.


Andrew Welsh – E-learning Consultant




3rd May 2016