By University of Phoenix
In the past two decades, technology has substantially impacted the classroom. The more we understand learning, the more we need to redesign and update classroom materials and instruction methods. The professionals who design the instructional materials used in the classroom are known as instructional designers. They create educational content that allows students to learn in new ways based on current research.
Instructional designers are the professionals who are creating the classrooms of the future and shaping the current educational landscape. If you’re interested in pursuing a career to help make a difference, then becoming an instructional designer may be for you.
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Instructional design and curriculum development are two fields that overlap in many ways. The difference can be summarized as such:
Curriculum development professionals decide about the learning objectives in different courses and make sure educational information is up to date. Sometimes curriculum developers create new courses from scratch, and sometimes they are tasked with analyzing and revising an existing curriculum.
In contrast, instructional designers focus on the instructional methods teachers use and the effect on students. They redesign existing learning models, train educators, and evaluate and create new virtual learning tools and resources.
While these two careers focus on different parts of the educational process, taken together they provide students with the latest improvements and innovations based on research.
Instructional designers shoulder a variety of duties and responsibilities, including:
These duties may differ depending on where instructional designers are employed and how long they’ve been working in this field. For example, a less experienced instructional designer may work with a team of people, while an experienced designer may work alone or be responsible for training educators and speaking publicly about instructional design.
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Instructional designers need a variety of skills to be successful, including:
By developing and using these skills, instructional designers can help schools and teachers provide better educational experiences and opportunities for students. Earning a master’s degree can help aspiring designers develop and refine these skills.
To be hired as an instructional designer, an applicant will typically hold a master’s degree in a related field. For example, a Master of Arts in Education/Curriculum and Instruction would prepare someone for a career as an instructional designer.
While a master’s degree may not be required for every position, earning a degree in the education field can be useful if you’re interested in becoming an instructional designer.
Unlike other careers in education, instructional designers do not always need to hold a specific, standardized certification. For example, those working in the military, business or higher education aren’t required to hold a certification or license.
On the other hand, instructional designers working in a K-12 public school system may be required to hold a valid teaching license. This requirement varies according to local and state requirements.
If you’re required to hold a teaching license to work as an instructional designer in your state, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree in education, student teaching experience, a passing grade on the Praxis® exam and a successful background check.
Instructional designers can work and gain experience in a variety of professional settings. They can be hired by specific schools or school districts to provide training, evaluation and change management.
They can also be hired by large corporations to handle the instructional design of staff training programs and professional development programs. Military or military-adjacent organizations can also hire instructional designers to design educational and instructional materials.
Once instructional designers have sufficient experience, often by working on a team, they can choose to work alone and be contracted by different organizations to provide instructional design services.
As of May 2021, instructional coordinators, also known as instructional designers, made an annual salary between $38,390 to $101,090, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This wide range of income can be explained by the variety of industries open to this role. While this career is connected to the work of other educational professionals, such as teachers, instructional designers work full time (including summer months), which may also impact annual salary.
The job outlook for instructional designers has projected growth of 7% from 2021 and 2031, according to BLS. That matches the average growth rate for all occupations. During the next decade, 20,900 open positions are projected for instructional designers each year.
If you’re interested in becoming an instructional designer, there are many ways to learn more about this profession, including:
Instructional designers work across several industries to help people learn in new and more effective ways every day. By choosing this career, you are choosing to be at the forefront of the education field.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree and want to learn more about curriculum and instruction, consider an online program at University of Phoenix.
Master of Arts in Education/Curriculum and Instruction — Through this degree program, you will be taught specific skills such as how to develop curriculum assessment skills, use curricular research to adopt best practices in classrooms, integrate technology into teaching lessons, adopt coaching strategies to positively affect learning outcomes, and understand ethical, social and political issues in education.
Post-Master’s Certificate in Curriculum and Instruction — The Post-Master’s Certificate in Curriculum and Instruction (CERT/D-CI) equips you with skills to lead the creation of educational coursework, instructional techniques and student assessments. Credits earned for the CERT/D-CI are transferrable toward the University’s Doctor of Education with a focus in Curriculum and Instruction. This certificate does not lead to teacher licensure.
Doctor of Education — This program prepares you to use analytical, critical and innovative thinking to improve performance and solve complex problems in education. This program does not lead to any educational licensure or certification.
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