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Is a Master's Degree in Instructional Design Right For Me?
Instructional. The adjective of instruction. Defined as “an indication of how to do something; the act of teaching.”
Design. A verb, either transitive or intransitive, depending on usage. Defined as “conceiving, creating and executing according to plan.”
Together, “instructional” and “design” create one of today’s fastest-growing “it” careers.
In fact, CNN Money/PayScale.com ranked the job of instructional designer as No. 38 on its 2012 100 Best Jobs in America list.
No wonder – thanks to a high level of personal satisfaction, a ton of built-in flexibility and a median income of $63,700.
Even better? Job opportunities are growing steadily.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by the year 2022, jobs in instructional design are expected to increase by 15 percent.
It’s a thriving field, to be sure.
Which is why getting your education in instructional design could be right for you.
An instructional design degree can prepare you to do something really special and unique. What’s that? Create learning experiences, online and off.
From videos, instructional media and multimedia, to e-learning, educational technology and training courses, instructional designers imagine, design and develop educational programs and learning solutions.
Even more exciting is the fact that they work with an array of different kinds of people across all types of processes in a wide variety of industries.
Instructional design, however, is one of those “accidental” careers, often resulting from a desire for career progression of a different sort.
A lot professionals in the instructional design field do not actively choose the career. Instead, it chooses them!
Take, for example, those working in education who want a different type of teaching experience. Or consider those working in a people-oriented field, such as customer service.
Completely different starting career tracks that lead to a fulfilling career as an instructional designer.
So what’s the common denominator? For many, it’s that pursuing their graduate degree comes from trying to figure out how to combine their love of teaching with their passion for business.
Enter, instructional design.
So is it possibly the right degree for you?
It is if you want to work with government, management, technology, science, professional and educational entities.
It is if you want your work to be meaningful, and to support a learning goal, outcome or performance improvement.
And it is if you’re looking for a professionally and personally rewarding career full of options like these:
- Instructional Coordinator
- Instructional Designer
- Performance Consultant
- Training & Development Coordinator
- Training Program Manager
- Training Specialist
As a career, instructional design can take any number of different pathways. From building online courses for college students, to providing training to information technology employees, to designing and developing training materials and solutions for overseas call centers.
Thinking about applying for grad school? Get an inside look at how to create a winning admission essay with this free report.
6 Things to Ask Yourself
If you’re trying to figure out if a master’s degree in instructional design is right for you, here are some thought-starter questions to ask yourself:
- Am I a lifelong learner?
Learners do well at this career because the best teachers are always students themselves. Being teachable and open to new ideas can give you insight into how to present information in a way that doesn’t just inform people, but changes their performance.
- Do I like to help organizations improve and succeed?
Organizations rely on instructional design leaders to advance the performance of others. And top-performing teams get bottom line results.
- Am I motivated by helping others?
Because training is directly tied to outcomes, this is not an easy career. There’s a lot of pressure to deliver results, so having an innate desire to develop the skills can set you up for success in this field.
- Do I enjoy the juxtaposition of being both creative and systematic in my thinking?
No doubt, this is an unusual skill set to have. But training others to optimize performance requires it. Creativity comes in how to bring concepts to life, while systematic thinking allows for alignment of learning to goals.
(Note: It really is possible to learn how to think this way. At Franklin, we provide critical tools and processes, while also teaching people in our master’s degree program in instructional design how to think – particularly as it relates to the influence they have, simply by virtue of what they do and how they interact.)
- Am I successful at helping people learn?
An instructor is only as good as the information he or she presents. But the real key to a positive and fruitful learning experience is knowing how to turn on a person’s proverbial “lightbulb” as part of the learning experience.
- Do I want to become more well-rounded and purposeful as a person?
Seems like an odd question, doesn’t it? But unlike other fields, instructional design is foundationally rooted in thoughtful, purposeful logic. The principles and processes we teach at Franklin can actually improve your personal life as much as your professional one.
More Things to Consider
After learning about the career potential and excitement of instructional design and the e-learning industry, now it’s simply a matter of choosing the right degree or certificate program.
Here are some things to think about:
- How much will it cost?
- Can I get financial aid?
- How do I apply?
- Do I want an instructional design certification or a master’s degree?
- Should I enroll in an online degree program?
- Can I create my own schedule?
- Can I choose when and where to take classes?
Investigate master’s degree options that help prepare you to create educational experiences that go beyond helping you just learn – find one that prepares you to deliver on important business issues, including:
- Increasing performance
- Boosting engagement
- Motivating personnel
- Enabling individual and corporate-wide success
With a master’s degree program of study, you should acquire the tools, processes and methodologies to help you understand how what you create can influence and interact with your employer’s big-picture mission.
Plus, you’ll be better equipped with the knowledge and skills to align goals with performance outcomes.
Ready to become an organizational change agent in as little as two years?