How to Become an Instructional Designer in 2021

How To Become Instructional Designer


If you wonder how to become an instructional designer in 2021, you have landed on the right blog. Instructional design is a promising and ever-evolving field, which is in need of competitive professionals. This is the complete guide on how to become a successful instructional designer in the current era. We recommend that you bookmark this page and come back whenever you need assistance. 

Now, let us explore what is an instructional designer and what do they do? We will also look at the promising aspects which might attract you to becoming an instructional designer. So, without wasting any more time, let’s get going:

What Is an Instructional Designer?

You might have heard the term instructional designer, but you might wonder what do they exactly do?

Instructional designers are the ones who create compelling and engaging learning experiences. They use the best practices from designs, psychology, education, systems theory, and creative writing to create systemic instructional designs. Their primary goal is to create face-to-face, eLearning, job aids, workshops, and similar support solutions to optimize performance. 

What Does an Instructional Designer Do?

While trainers and facilitators work to deliver a set of information to a designated participant group, instructional designers work behind the scenes. They collaborate with SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to develop and design the learning experience. Generally, they do not deliver it to the live audience, however on occasions the instructional designer and the facilitator are the same person.

An Instructional Designers’ primary goal is to plan, evaluate, design, and develop a curriculum that optimizes the learner’s performance. The changes in the performance levels should be scientifically measurable as well as directly observable. So, an instructional designer will have to adapt to the growing amounts of adult learning theory and trends in learning design and put this into practice in their development of learning resources. 

Why Become an Instructional Designer?

The primary drivers of every job include the optimal work-life balance, better salaries and commissions, and high job satisfaction. All of these ingredients can be found in the job of an instructional designer. Not only that, an instructional designer is paid higher as compared to forefront facilitators because their job requires them to develop and grow continually. 

Nevertheless, some instructional designers have discussed a lack of purpose, which most likely happens in some corporate roles where designers need to churn out volumes of learning that is associated with ‘check the box’ training. However, for those hired by organizations with a strong culture of high-performance learning and who value the learning function, instructional design is aligned to that purpose-driven company making the job highly rewarding.  If you find satisfaction in helping people and producing content and learning programs that ultimately influence how people work, this job will give you the most fulfilling role. 

The Job Role and Responsibilities of Instructional Designers 

In today’s world, instructional designers’ position represents a wide range of job roles and responsibilities. Quite often than not, instructional designers perform the following tasks:

  1. Instructional designers need to interview and contact the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and build strong business partnerships.
  2. They write instructional content and create the vision for learning programs.
  3. Finally, these blueprints and learning roadmaps are converted into interactive learning experiences, for eLearning programs, instructor-led programs, virtual programs and more.

One of the most important goals is to create support materials for facilitators, participants and participants’ managers.  In the process of creation instructional designers will create blueprints, course outlines, course brochures and more. For facilitators, instructional designs may create a facilitator’s guide, job aids, slides, and similar learning deliverables. For participants, they would create participant guides, workbooks, action plans, job aids, worksheets, case studies, learning activities, review activities and all other materials to maximize participants success.  And, for participants’ managers, the instructional designer would create Manager briefing kits, program outlines, coaching tools and more.  Nevertheless, the job roles of instructional designers vary across different organizations. 

How to Become an Instructional Designer?

Once you know whether an instructional designer’s role is a good fit for you, it’s time to work on your skillset and passion. We have also turned the instructional designer how-to guide in a proper checklist view for you. Now let’s explore what do you need to do to become an expert instructional designer:

Learn All the Theories, Methodologies, And Principles – no longer!

It is essential to realize that an instructional designer’s work relies on heavy research, including visual design, education, neuroscience, user experience design, psychology, and the instructional design itself. An instructional designer’s job is highly interdisciplinary, and therefore, before the year 2000, they were tasked with learning the primary methodologies and theories, of the day.

From 1960 to the year 2000 the ADDIE was deemed essential role in the job of instructional design. Since 2000, ID9 Intelligent Design has revolutionized corporate learning and development.  Now, it would be considered old fashioned, even embarrassing for a modern learning professional to say they were using ADDIE! 

For eLearning: Learn All the Instructional Design Technology 

You need to know that not all instructional design roles require you to know all about technologies, but most roles require it. Because the instructional designer’s job is not only about creating the instructions, but also to develop the final face-to-face format for learning. When it comes to eLearning design, consider learning about the following technologies if you want to become an instructional designer of eLearning programs in 2021:

  1. Articulate Storyline
  2. Articulate Rise 360 
  3. Adobe Illustrator
  4. Adobe XD
  5. TechSmith Snag-It 
  6. TechSmith Camtasia 
  7. HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript 
  8. The Experience API (xAPI)
  9. Vyond 
  10. Learning management systems (LMS)

Learn Visual and Design Composition 

Once you are done with the theories and technologies, you might think that your task is done, but that only covers half of your challenge. The way you design and compose your training programs, workshops and courses matters a lot. Following are the four major principles of visual and design composition:

  1. Contrast refers to the difference between the two elements.
  2. Proximity refers to the closeness or distance between the two elements.
  3. Repetition refers to repeating the same design throughout the module.
  4. Alignment refers to the alignment of the element with one another.

Using strong visuals is not just a ‘nice to have’.  Strong visuals help the attention and ultimately the retention of information for adult learners whose learning preference is Visual.  The visual learner learns best through color and pictures.  Words on the screen are not visual aids, they are classified as ‘hearing aids’ helping primarily auditory learners, rather than visual learners.  Ensure that your workshop, program or training course is filled with relevant, high quality pictures that assist Visual learners to take in information quicker.

Pack Up and Gear Up

Once you are past these basics, now is the time to build your portfolio and submit applications for various jobs. For this purpose, you must be yourself, stick to core tools, and remain professional. If this guide does not answer all your questions or needs more clarity, you can contact us anytime. 

You can also visit our website to find the best solutions and optimize performance across your organization.