Demand for instructional design certifications is at an all-time high because instructional designers are on the rise in today’s modern world of constant technology and information sharing. With an influx of e-learning products, materials, and guides, instructional design job openings are showing up at various institutions, including workplaces and schools.
Instructional design is the intentional design of a product, material, or guide: think eBook, employee onboarding process, and a way for businesses to document their processes and procedures thoroughly. Proven learning techniques based on evolving understanding of human psychology and technological development are strategically combined to provide a targeted and rewarding learning experience. These materials are designed in a way that is carefully positioned to maximize learning, retention rate, and knowledge applicability for learners.
How is instructional design applied to everyday life? Ecourses, eBooks, and other digital learning platforms are examples of instructional design in practice. Employers, too, use instructional designers to craft onboarding processes for new employees and procedure outlines and guides for existing employees.
Instructional design is a powerful tool by which to harness large amounts of information. By crafting its presentation, designers can change the rate at which information is utilized and applied.
Instructional designers then guide this learning process through the deliberate design of elements into products or materials that facilitate the learning process. IDs combine what we know about human psychology, learning theory, and presentation to help students, employees, and other learners grasp new, meaningful, and relevant information.
So, how does one become an instructional designer?
There are many different paths that students or professionals can take to become an Instructional Designer, such as a college degree, internship, or certification.
This article will outline how to become an instructional designer through earning a certificate in instructional design.
What Are Instructional Design Certifications?
An instructional design certification is a way for employees, job candidates, or those entering instructional design to prove their competency in the field.
Certifications can help hiring managers to make informed decisions about a candidate’s ability to perform essential job duties. Alternatively, an instructional design certification can improve an existing employee’s understanding of specific or trending instructional design knowledge. Additionally, pursuing a certificate in instructional design can aid those entering the job market further hone relevant skills and stand out against other job candidates.
Benefits of an Instructional Design Certification
Partly because instructional design continues to grow, morph, and shape to the industries it serves, there is no unanimity regarding the specific educational path or qualifications required to become an instructional designer.
However, for the reasons listed in the previous section, many employers look for evidence that a designer is well-versed in both the human psychology and analytical presentation skill sets required of an instructional designer.
Accordingly, there are many benefits to becoming certified as an instructional designer:• Competitive candidacy: in today’s ever-changing job market, employers are becoming more stringent in their evaluation process of candidates. Obtaining an instructional design certification is an effective way to add an extra layer of qualification for employers to see in a job application.
• Specific knowledge: Instructional design as a career itself is constantly morphing based on trends, information, and further development in the field. Both existing employees and those who aspire to become instructional designers will benefit from learning trending and newly relevant information in their field.
• Cost: the cost associated with an instructional design certification comes with a much lower price tag than its college degree counterpart.
• Custom-tailored certifications: the availability of instructional design certifications varies widely, allowing students to learn about anything from the basics of instructional design to honing a specific trending topic for an existing professional.
• Time commitment: much like the cost factor, instructional design certifications offer an opportunity to learn the industry without the same time requirements that a college degree would require.
There are many certification programs available for instructional design. Many platforms offer courses for free, adding a fee only for the actual issuance of the certification upon successful completion of the program. Other programs are more immersive and provide more interaction with the instructors and/or other students in the same cohort.
Online and In-Person Instructional Design Certifications
Some certifications for instructional design offer students an in-person learning experience, while others offer online programs. Some even offer a hybrid of both online and in-person learning.
Online options for getting an instructional design certificate offer additional flexibility for students who live outside the location of a program, such as those who live in rural areas. Moreover, those who are already professionals – either in design or in an adjacent field – find that an online course provides the flexibility they need to work around previous commitments. Students with families or otherwise busy lifestyles will also benefit from an online program that offers the flexibility to learn remotely. Finally, professionals who already work remotely and incorporate travel into their lifestyles will find advantages in an online learning program.
Time Commitment Required for an Instructional Design Certificate
The breadth and depth that an instructional design certificate covers are a primary factor in the time that it takes to complete the program successfully. Another factor determining the time commitment to complete a certification in instructional design is the pace at which the course is taught. Many programs offer curriculum-paced learning, while equally as many offer the option of self-paced learning. When a student chooses a self-paced learning option to obtain their certification, it simply boils down to the time the student can devote.
What is the average time it takes to complete an instructional design certification? Some certificates can be completed in a matter of weeks. Some can even be completed in a matter of hours, such as introductory or highly specific courses.
The majority of instructional design certifications take a student between two months and one year to complete. Courses are often broken down into segments and hours within a segment.
Cost of Instructional Design Certification
The cost of these programs varies as widely as the learning styles, pace, and curriculum available in a certification program for instructional design. Some courses are free, with the only fee for the actual issuance of the certification. Others can exceed $10,000. The cost of the certificate is determined by many components, including the curriculum, instructors, and institution.
It is important to remember that expensive doesn’t always mean better. Students should carefully evaluate the factors in a certification program for Instructional Design.
How to Choose an Instructional Design Certification
When choosing which certificate in instructional Design to pursue, students should consider a variety of factors. Carefully evaluating a certificate program will help students ensure that the certificate matches their learning styles, time commitment, budget, and career goals.
Curriculum: It is essential to carefully review an instructional design certification curriculum to find the best fit. Are the instructors well-known? Is the program accredited? Is the certificate recognized in the industry, or just simply a certificate of completion? Moreover, it is critical to assess the breadth and depth of the program. If a student is looking for an introduction to instructional design, this course will be vastly different from a deep-focused course on instructional design. Asking these questions when evaluating the curriculum is the best way to ensure that a student’s goals will be met.
Time and pace: Understanding the pace at which the course will be taught (self- or syllabus-paced) will help students make an informed decision on the best certification for them. If a student requires in-person learning and a high level of feedback from instructors in order to excel, then choosing a program that offers these features will go a long way in the student’s success in the program.
Cost: Students should first decide what their budget is before enrolling in an instructional design certification program. As mentioned above, the cost of certification can vary widely.
Some certification programs offer payment plans or financial aid, while others require an upfront fee. Employers may consider this a continuing education opportunity for professionals in the field or an adjacent field and cover the cost.
Certified Instructional Designer Career Path
instructional designers enjoy a wide variety of industries to work in, especially as the world continues to move toward remote operations in the wake of COVID-19.
Students who successfully complete a certificate in instructional design may choose to work in commercial, socially-focused, academic, health, or government sectors, to name a few.
There are also many paths for success as an instructional designer. Some designers choose to continue to gain specific knowledge in their careers, becoming subject matter experts. Others enjoy taking on more managerial responsibilities and ultimately leading product development and/or large teams. Another career track for an instructional designer is becoming a consultant and working in a niche industry or across industries in the eLearning space.
Instructional design is an exciting career, with new developments constantly emerging. Professionals who like to be at the forefront of eLearning innovation often enjoy careers as an Instructional Designer.
Salary Information for Certified Instructional Designers
In addition to exciting and innovative projects and multiple options for career advancements, IDs also enjoy high-paying positions, even at entry-level. In fact, Glassdoor reports an average salary of almost $70,000 per year in the United States.
These desirable jobs aren’t in short supply, either: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates the career field will continue to grow much faster than average, at 9 percent over the next decade.
Students and professionals who wish to learn or further hone their skills in instructional design can follow this path through various certificate programs and options.
Instructional design is a rewarding career and allows those who love to work creatively and analytically to find fulfillment in their careers.
Instructional designers will also find many industries in which their skill sets are needed including industries with high rates of employment such as healthcare, technology, corporate, and nonprofit.
There are many options available to those that are pursuing a certificate in instructional design. Students will find flexibility in learning (such as online or in-person options), affordable ways to obtain a certificate, and a wide array of learning programs.
Choosing a suitable certificate is essential to meet career goals, find fulfillment, and reach salary requirements in a student’s chosen industry. Using the criteria above, students can feel more confident finding the right program.