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Instructional design is a relatively new and growing career. People in this field most often work in education, but instructional design jobs are also available in the corporate world. Regardless of the industry, most instructional design jobs include assessing students' educational needs and developing programs to address those needs. Many instructional design jobs are in the area of online education, but instructional designers sometimes work in the publishing industry, creating print materials as well.
Some instructional designers create and structure online course content. They may work with a teacher or other subject-matter expert who writes the course content. The instructional designer then organizes the content in various ways to better facilitate learning. The instructional designer typically considers the specific needs of the students who will be taking the courses so he or she can design lessons appropriately. For this type of instructional design career, Web or graphic design experience is often the most important skill.
Other instructional design careers focus on creating assessments. These jobs require instructional designers to analyze the course materials and create an appropriate testing system to measure the students' learning. The instructional designer is responsible for choosing the appropriate type of assessment tool and structuring it to capture the most important points from the course. Teaching or assessment development experience is helpful for this type of career.
Instructional design jobs in some industries may focus more on writing than on design. In these jobs, the instructional designer creates original course content that is reviewed and edited by subject-matter experts for accuracy and appropriateness. Other jobs in this area would involve repurposing content for another type of media. Most often this involves adapting print materials for newly-created online courses. Solid writing experience and a degree in education are the most important requirement for these instructional design jobs.
While many instructional design jobs are in grade school and higher education, these careers can also be found in the corporate world. Instructional designers can develop courses for corporate training programs, many of which are online. People who work in corporate training departments as instructors may have the easiest time transitioning to this type of instructional design career. Some jobs of this type combine classroom teaching with instructional design into a single position. These jobs are usually with large companies that have in-house training and development departments.
Instructional design jobs can be permanent, but contract positions are common. In a contract position, the designer works for a set period of time on a specific project, and the job is over when the project is completed. Some instructional designers can work from home since the majority of their work is done in an online environment.