The Road to Becoming an Instructional Designer

So you got that degree in instructional technology or instructional design. Congratulations! Now what?  I see questions on LinkedIn all the time asking how to get your first instructional designer (ID) job.

Here are 5 things you can do right now to get that job!

Determine Your Interests

First you have to figure out what you would like to do with that degree. What interests you the most about instructional design? Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you interested in the technology side of instructional design? Do you want to work with Photoshop, Articulate, Camtasia, and many other tools to create online courses?
  • Are you interested in learning theory and the course development process?
  • Are you interested in instructional design project management?
  • Are you interested in training others on the use of technology in the classroom?
  • Are you interested in instructional design in a corporate setting, higher education, or K12?

Though it is important for you to hold knowledge and skills in many areas, it is more important to specialize in something once you figure out what you want to do.


You need to determine what skills, education, and/or experience you need to get an ID position in the area you are interested in working. Look at job descriptions of the ideal job for you. Look at the skills required so that you can develop your own personal professional development plan to attain those skills.

Build a Portfolio

Take time to put together samples of your work. This can include job aids, storyboards (various styles), and a sample online module and/or training lesson. Include technology samples like Articulate, Adobe products, Lectora, and Microsoft. Create samples of content using free online tools like Prezi, ThingLink, Canva, Piktochart, and many, many, more. Your portfolio can be built in a free learning management system like Coursesites or Canvas or create a website using WordPress, Wix, or Weebly. You can also utilize voiceover software like Audacity. Will it take time to learn new products? Absolutely! But I promise it will be worth it!

Create An Online Presence

Use LinkedIn! Create a killer profile with samples of work. Link to your portfolio. Connect with other instructional designers. Connect with people in your industry. You never know when someone in your network will post job leads.


Last piece of advice: apply, apply, apply! The best advice I ever received was from one of my professors who I just expressed my frustrations in not being able to get my first ID job. He told me “ultimately getting the job is all based on the needs of the organization and if you can fit that need with your skills you got the job.” It’s not a personal thing so just keep trying. But during the job search journey keep preparing yourself!

Anything I forgot? Keep us in the know!

Please share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


eLearning GEEK

P.S. If you have any topics you would like me to talk about or any questions, send me your comments or questions by going to the Contact Me page.

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