5 Essential Qualifications to Look for in an Instructional Designer
When trying to find the perfect instructional designer for your project, be it contract work or a full-time employee, there are certain qualifications that you should ensure are on their resume (or at least implied given their previous work). In the past, employers often had a difficult time defining the roles for instructional designers. However, today ID is very prominent, with many institutions offering advanced degrees in the area, and a handful of professional societies offering additional accreditation. This is big business.
So let’s assume that you have a project that needs an instructional designer. Be it instructor based learning, elearning, learning management system set-up, training delivery, or the like – you need someone with experience and a background in successful design and implementations (you could opt to just assign this entire process to another in-house employee, but I can promise you that you’ll lose money, and it will not be effective). But what specific qualification should you look for?
Granted there will be some specific items to your project or company that are not on this list, but by rule of thumb, any instructional designer that you hire should meet the criteria below, listed in no particular order:
1. Industry Experience – Do you work in the automotive industry? If so, then the ID you employ should have exposure to this industry as well. While resourceful, Instructional Designers still rely on subject matter experts for much of the information they are training. If they don’t understand basic terminology of your industry, then expect your other employees to become annoyed quite quickly.
2. Application Experience – If your developing training for a new system, such as an ERP like SAP or Oracle, then make sure your ID has experience with similar projects. Often times, instructional designers leverage content that they have already created (to an extent, as they need to be mindful of privacy). If your ID has created training for your application in the past, they will need less time to get the training development.
3. Minimum Five Years of Experience – This one may rub some IDers the wrong way, but it relates to the first two points above. If someone in ID has five years of experience, then they will have resources, connections, and general industry knowledge that will decrease development time and likely have a positive impact on your training. If you are cost conscience, then you can get someone with a little less experience, but they’ll be doing more learning on the job than someone with five years.
4. Industry Accreditation – This is a bonus, but often accreditation in the field is not even possible until someone has at least five years of relevant experience (see #3). In order to be a Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (ASTD), or a Certified Performance Technologist (ISPI), one has to continually take courses to improve and hone their skills… which is good for you!
Finding the right employee for any position can be a difficult task. The list above will give you a good starting point in your search for a capable Instructional Designer for your project. If you need someone with more of a technical background you can use sites like DICE to find the right match. Also, LinkedIn is proving more and more effective for finding qualified candidates – so you should certainly take a look there!