Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve fielded questions from people interested in making the move from instructor/trainer to instructional designer/technologist. Two previous posts Breaking into the Business and Jobs in Instructional Design and Technology provide a few job search resources and recommendations for documenting your experience. But is anyone hiring? This post outlines two resources I recommend to anyone considering a career change.
Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)
The OOH is published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics that provides information about hundreds of occupational fields. The categories of information provided include: education and experience requirements, salary data, job descriptions, and employment projections. The current projections are for 2008-2018. You can also find specific data related to your State.
To get to the information most closely related to Instructional Design, you’ll need to drill down from Professional to: Education, Training, Library, Museum > Instructional Coordinator.
Other related occupational groups to explore include Art and Design and Media and Communication Related.
Published by the Department of Labor’s Education and Training Administration, O*Net offers a different format with more search options and a detailed framework of information designed for career exploration. The two entries below are a good place to start.
Using these resources:
The detailed information, thorough descriptions, and wealth of data provided on these sites can be helpful in several ways.
- Look for keywords and phrases you can use as starting points for writing about your job-related accomplishments in your resume.
- Look for descriptions of knowledge, skills, and abilities that you can speak to in interviews and provide evidence of in a portfolio.
- Use these sites as a launching pad. Explore. Each career page includes a list of links to related occupations and other related sites.
Instructional design and technology are still relatively new as occupational fields. Hopefully information provided in the OOH and O*Net will expand as the career fields expand. Defining instructional design and technology is a topic in and of itself!
Overall the OOH and O*Net forecasts for jobs in instructional design and technology look good, with job growth “much faster than average.” Include this information as part of your career research and job search. (Don’t neglect networking!)
Have you recently entered instructional design as a second (or third) career? What were your favorite resources for researching the field?
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Well, I recently finished a masters in Instructional Design. I have previous experience teaching some elementary, middle school, and teaching English as a Second Language. A month or so before graduating I got my first contract job, which was for only 4 months. I haven’t had full time job since then (ended in July, it’s now Novemember 2011). It seems to me that everyone wants you to be an “Expert” at everything or at “Intermediate” skill levels. Almost all the job adds I’ve seen also say 4-6 years experience required or something like that. It has been VERY frustrating. No one seems willing to hire me to GET experience. I’m also applying for Instructional Technologist positions at universities. However, after a recent interview I looked up two of the other people who filled in their names in the sign in list. After looking up both of them on Linkedin I discovered they had both previously worked at university jobs in that position. I’ve been told by someone with their own ID consulting firm that there are MANY skilled, experienced, ID people on the move looking for work. I wish the the head of the ID department in my grad program would have told me all this.
Thanks for taking the time to post a comment here. Being able to demonstrate your experience is so critical in this field, and yet, as you point out, experience is hard to get.
You hit on important point: your program faculty members were either unaware of the job and career prospects of graduates or not equipped to provide that kind of guidance. I think that is unfortunately the case with a lot of traditional programs. Career guidance is left to career centers while instructors focus almost exclusively on the academic side. There are signs that academics and student services are starting to work together, for just the reason you’ve described, but there is still a long way to go.
You didn’t ask for my advice, but here’s my two cents worth anyway: Build an online portfolio that includes as many relevant examples of your work and experience as you can gather, including your teaching experience and your course assignments. Look for opportunities to get experience, and add to your portfolio – paid, volunteer, temp, be creative. If you haven’t already done so – join some of the ID related LinkedIn Groups and weigh in on the discussion boards and get to know people. And last, but not least, widen your search to include companies and positions where ID might be part of the job or related, but not the entire focus – you’ll still gain experience there.
Keep moving forward. Even small steps count.
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Thank you for this article! I just finished my first semester in Instructional Technology and am starting to look at job postings. I am looking into what we will need to include in our portfolio for job interviews. Which job titles should I be looking for in my searches? Will I be qualified for both Instructional Designers and Coordinator positions?
Hi Katie – thanks for your comment. And congratulations on finishing your first semester in instructional technology!
It’s great that you are already looking at job listings. I recommend you cast a wide net at this point and include all of the possible job titles that are being used. While the OOH lists the two I presented above, different employers in different industries will apply different titles to this kind of work. Since your program involves technology you may also, for example, want to search for “instructional technologist” and “elearning designer.”
The Instructional Design Center’s job board currently includes other examples, such as “learning solutions officer”, “online course designer”, and “learning technology specialist.” http://www.instructionaldesigncentral.com/htm/IDC_instructionaldesignjobs.htm Look more closely at the required education, training, skills, and experience, than at the job title.
Best of luck with your next semester and future job search!