The instructional design field is part art – part science (Check out this post on Performance x Design). While you can study Instructional Design as an academic field and complete a degree or certificate program, you can also join the field via on-the-job training. I have worked with people who have come through varying career paths to become talented instructional designers. The work of the instructional designer is application oriented and one becomes more skilled through practice. I think that project managers follow similar paths – some have related degrees while others have learned through the process of managing projects.
Part of the skill set of the instructional designer is project management. The reality of curriculum, education, and training teams in organizations is that the instructional designer often wears both hats. Rarely is there a separate project manager to orchestrate the process of course development and keep things on track and under budget. Having had this experience myself I often refer to myself as a Project Manager, but with the increase in certification in this area I wonder how long I will be able to do that.
Advertisements for Instructional Designer positions almost always include the need for “project management experience”. Recently though I saw an announcement that required project management certification, specifically the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation.
eLearning Pro with PMP…
The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a globally recognized set of certifications. The two I am most familiar with are the PMP and the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). The PMP requires an extensive application documenting three years of project management experience, a college degree, and specific coursework in project management. If your application is accepted, you sit for a national exam. Once you pass the exam and are granted the certification, you complete annual continuing education activities. The CAPM also involves an extensive application and exam followed by re-examination every five years.
So, I am considering pursuit of one of these designations. The process is a little daunting and I think to myself, when does it end? When do I have enough acronyms after my name to stay competitive and ensure a potential employer that I am qualified? And there seems to be a fine line there – how many is too many?
Professional certification also seems to be an industry in and of itself. There are application fees, study courses (with fees), test preparation materials to purchase, exam fees… and other costs associated with membership and continuing education. To me, there is a financial investment involved and one that would continue. Do employers assist with these costs or provide additional compensation to those who hold special certifications?
What are your thoughts on professional certification? – particularly where instructional design and project management are concerned. If you have considered pursuing or have completed certification, please share your advice on the pros and cons. If you are an employer, let us know how you value certification as part of the recruitment/hiring process.
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