Get a Degree in Instructional Design?

instructional-designerAnyone that has an interest in the elearning and mobile learning fields will soon discover that there are university programs specifically for this industry. In most cases they are degrees in Instructional Design.

Recently I have received a few messages on LinkedIn from individuals that were interested in getting into the elearning field. While each had their own questions there was one that they both asked:

Is a degree in Instructional Design necessary?

Short answer: no.

Now, having a degree in instructional design may better prepare you in the short-term. It could even be a great way to differentiate when you are looking for an instructional designer position. However, it is absolutely not a requirement. I would know as I have worked on large elearning projects for years without a formal instructional design degree.

People hate hearing this but the most relevant factor in this field (well, in most fields) is experience. Which I know presents a catch-22 scenario. If you are just starting out, how do you get experience?

If you are a new graduate then hopefully you had the opportunity to find an internship in the field – that can certainly help. That said, when you apply to jobs for entry level positions employers are well-aware that you will not have a vast background of experience. Hence the reason the position is “entry level”.

Is it a good idea to get an instructional degree if you want to get into this industry. Yes, of course! But if you don’t have the opportunity to get one (for example, if you already have graduated with a degree in something else) then you shouldn’t worry. Focus on getting experience and then you can supplement that experience with relevant certifications.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

One Comment
  1. Yes! And here’s some more advice for beginners without a lot of paid experience: volunteer to create a course for a local non-profit. Not only will you get valuable experience, you’ll also be doing something good for the world. Just be sure that you can use that course in your portfolio. We are fortunate enough to work in a field where we can “show, not tell” what we do. Take advantage of it!

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