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Learning design career options

“What jobs are in the learning design field?” “What is the job outlook for learning designers?” “How much money can I make as an instructional designer?” “Is learning design the right field for me?”


Welcome to the second lesson in LXD Factory's free Get started series. In this lesson you will discover career options in learning design, career outlook projections for learning design roles, and salary ranges in today’s market. You will also complete a self-assessment to help you determine if this is a good career fit for you.



What careers are available in the learning design field?


Learning designers enjoy a variety of options when it comes to the types of roles, industries, and employment statuses that they want to pursue.


Role types


Many learning roles are available in this field; so many, in fact, that it can feel overwhelming at first! However, when you boil it down, there are essentially two categories of designers: generalists and specialists.


Generalists typically have a hand in all phases of the design process (e.g. analysis, design, development, implementation, evaluation). This may not be the case for every project, but generalists typically gain exposure to all phases throughout their careers. Examples of generalist learning designer job titles include:

  • Instructional designer

  • Learning experience designer

  • Curriculum designer / developer

  • Course designer / developer

  • Instructional technologist

  • Training designer

  • Learning consultant


Specialists, however, focus on specific tasks or phases of learning projects. For instance, a performance consultant is highly engaged in up-front analysis but may be less so during development. Likewise, a training event planner or virtual instruction host may play a larger role during implementation than in other phases of a learning project. Additional examples of specialist learning designer job titles include:

  • Learning architect

  • Learning strategist

  • Measurements and analytics specialist

  • eLearning developer

  • Assessment specialist

  • Learning and development project manager

  • Multimedia developer

  • Quality assurance specialist


Industries


Learning designers support a wide variety of industries including corporate (e.g. finance, pharmaceutical, retail), government (e.g. local, state, and federal agencies), non-profit (e.g. charitable organizations), and education (e.g. K-12 and post-secondary institutions). In short, if an organization provides training and development opportunities to learners (e.g. students, staff), learning designers are often involved. As a result, learning design is a great way to support organizations that align with your values–even if you are not considered an “expert” in that particular field.


Employment status


Learning designers also have the flexibility to pursue various types of employment opportunities. Consider a variety of options below:


What is the career outlook for learning designers?


The career outlook for learning designers is promising, with growing opportunities across a vast landscape of industries. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 18% employment growth for instructional design roles between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than average compared to most careers.

Instructional designer salaries vary greatly, with more lucrative roles in technology, finance, and consulting. To get a glimpse of the range, scan these average instructional design salaries for organizations in a variety of industries (as reported by Glassdoor in 2021):


Money aside, you may also find that work/life balance can be more easily achieved as a learning designer–compared to other education or design-related roles (e.g. teachers, administrators, UX/UI designers). The learning industry offers full-time and freelance opportunities that can be completed on-site, remotely, or a blend of the two. Remote work is not new for learning designers; in fact, learning designers have worked 100% remotely for decades with minimal travel to client sites.


Learning design career pros and cons


Every career choice has its pros and cons. Based on comments shared by learning designers in the field today, here are some that you might experience while working in the field:


Is learning design right for me?


Now that you know more about the career options, outlook, and potential pros and cons about learning design, you may be wondering if this is the right career path for you. Review the statements below and mark "yes" or "no" for each. The more "yes" boxes you check, the more likely learning design is a good fit for you!



Summary and next steps


The learning design field offers a lot of opportunity, and the career outlook is positive. If you determine the role is a good match and the salary ranges meet your needs, then learning design may be a good fit for you. Depending on your goals, you may opt to be a generalist or a specialist working full-time, part-time, or freelance.


Keep in mind, it’s not likely you will simply be able to jump right into a learning design role (even if you have some transferable skills). To learn how to take the next step, continue to the next lesson in the Get started series: Pathways into learning design.


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