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Making the Career Transition from Teaching to Instructional Design
If you are a teacher interested in making a career transition to instructional design, there are three steps you can take. Do you know what those three steps are? If not, stick around because I am going to fill you in during this episode of AcceleratedID!
Teaching is a noble profession, filled with passion, dedication, and the desire to make a difference in the lives of students. But what if you’re a teacher who is ready for a new challenge? What if you want to step outside the traditional classroom setting while still utilizing your valuable skills and experience?
In this blog post, we will explore the misconceptions around teachers becoming instructional designers and provide actionable steps to support your transition into this exciting field. Get ready to reignite your passion for education with a fresh twist on using your existing skills!
Why Transition from Teaching to Instructional Design?
Instructional design is a field that allows educators to build a fulfilling career while embracing their love for education in a fresh and innovative way.
Your passion for teaching is a love for developing people. As an instructional designer, you can take that passion and apply it to the adults whose lives you improve through your learning solutions.
Was one of your main reasons for getting into teaching because you wanted to make a difference? Good news! That desire carries over into an instructional design job. As an instructional designer, you get to create learning experiences that positively influence your adult learners.
Finally, as a teacher you have many skills you can leverage immediately as an instructional designer. You can check out a full list of those skills and how they transition into instructional design in this article.
Busting Common Myths About a Career Transition from Teaching to Instructional Design
Before we get into how to set yourself up for a successful career in instructional design, let’s get some misconceptions out of the way. These are some narratives that I don’t want to be stuck in your head! Misconceptions are like bad rumors.
Once they’re out there, they start taking on a life of their own and growing. You might hear the following myths in Facebook groups or blog posts. The more you see them, the more you start to believe them! Instead, I want you to focus on the truths behind the rumors. So let’s dig in.
Misconception #1: Teachers are automatically instructional designers
There are some programs out there that sell you based on the idea that teachers are already instructional designers.
This isn’t true and it’s bad for everyone, because teachers are submitting applications for instructional design jobs without getting reskilled. This can make all teachers who aspire to be instructional designers look bad!
The truth is: teachers can be instructional designers with development.
We already mentioned that teachers have a lot of skills they can leverage. This sets them up to be great instructional designers, with development. It’s important to understand this going into a career transition.
As a teacher, you can’t just start sending out your resume and expect to land an instructional design job. You do have those essential skills to build on, but they need some work so you can be successful in instructional design. There are a few ways you can do this that we’ll touch on later in this article!
Misconception #2: You need another degree to become an instructional designer.
You may be thinking a career transition is unattainable because you don’t have the time/money to get another degree. Well, I’ve got good news for you!
The truth is: You don’t need another degree to transition into instructional design!
You already have a professional degree. In all of the years I’ve led L&D teams, the majority of people I worked with have degrees in something completely different.
Most instructional designers come to the field from a different route. It’s up to you how you choose to fill your skills gaps and an instructional design degree might not be the right choice for the skills you need to develop.
Misconception #3: Start by learning the technology.
In my position as Chief Trainologist for The Instructional Design and Tech Accelerator system, I get to chat with a lot of aspiring instructional designers. A really common fear that these instructional design newbies have is that they won’t be able to grasp elearning development or video editing. Or, that they’re worried about purchasing these expensive tools and then having to learn how to use them independently.
The truth is: You should start with a foundation in instructional design.
There’s a difference between becoming skilled in using a tool and being an instructional designer who knows how to use a tool.
If you’re looking to become an instructional designer who can also use development tools, you’ll need to start with a foundation in instructional design. This means you have to first understand adult learning theory, audience engagement, writing learning objectives, scripting content, and more.
Once you have the principles down, you can learn how to effectively bring all that knowledge into the technology to develop assets like eLearning or videos.
Also, if you’re not super excited about using tools like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Premiere Pro, understand that not all instructional designers use those tools.
Misconception #4: The field of instructional design is too saturated.
Between February 2020 and May 2022, 300,000 public school teachers left the classroom. Around that time, word started getting out that instructional design was a good fit for exiting teachers. That teacher exodus might be the spark that ignited this myth.
Instructional design was a pretty well-kept secret for awhile. I think it’s great that so many educators are learning about this field. What’s not great is that, because of that misconception that all teachers are already instructional designers, we’re seeing a huge increase in unqualified applicants for instructional design jobs.
That means that an instructional design job posting may get thousands of applicants! Of those applicants, most are thrown out by the Applicant Tracking System because they don’t have the required job skills.
The truth is: Education is a $1.4 trillion industry which is expected to grow to $3.1 trillion by 2030.
As the industry grows, that means more opportunities for all qualified instructional designers. These might be in ed tech, corporate, freelancing, non-profit, and higher ed.
Education Paths for a Career Transition to Instructional Design
So I mentioned earlier that as a teacher you do have some skills to develop before you’re ready for an instructional design job. I also said that I don’t think you need a master’s degree in instructional design.
How do you upskill to prepare for an instructional design job? Here are some paths you might consider:
You can teach yourself the skills you need to become an instructional designer. Even better, you can usually do this for free (or close to it). By teaching yourself using Youtube, books, or LinkedIn Learning for example, you can cherry-pick the skills you want to work on for a customized experience.
There are also some great certificate programs out there that will guide you through the upskilling process. These can range in cost from $1,000-$6,000 and take anywhere from 2-9 months to complete.
You may want to pay for a program like this if you need some structure to your learning. A good program will also offer built-in support from experts and a community. This has an added benefit of motivation and having a group of people you can work with and get feedback from.
I did say you don’t need another degree, but if you want to get one this is still an option. Most degree programs will take upwards of 2 years to complete and can cost $30,000 and up.
Some companies pay for their employees to further their education in their current field. So keep that in mind!
Which Path is Right for You?
Each path has its pros and cons. Think about what kind of learning environment you need, how much time you can take to upskill, and how much you want to spend. If you have a 3-year plan before you want to make a career transition, self-study might make a lot of sense.
Most of the teachers I hear from are eager to have an exit plan by the end of the school year. In that case, I suggest looking into a certificate program. If you’re interested in a certificate program, I highly recommend you check out The Instructional Design and Tech Accelerator System and Certificate Program.
Whichever path you choose, make sure it’s a fit for you and that it includes the skills you’re looking to develop. Be sure you’ll work on an instructional design portfolio.
Another area to inquire about when deciding on a path is AI. There are a lot of use cases for AI in instructional design, so you want to be prepared to explore those skills. My prediction is that instructional design jobs will soon list experience with AI tools as a job requirement.
Wrapping it Up
As an educator, you got into this field because you want to make a difference. Now you know that you can still make a difference and impact people’s lives positively in the field of instructional design.
So, what now? Well, if you want to learn more about instructional design and how you can make a career transition, I recommend this 4-step process.
For more support as you consider this change, check out The Instructional Design Hangout. A place to chat, ask questions, and learn about all things instructional design.
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The Testimonials are In:
Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.
I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.
After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!
L&D Project Manager
The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!
Future Instructional Designer
If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!
Future Instructional Designer
I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).
Future Instructional Designer
I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.
Krista Johnson Awomoyi
Freelance Instructional Designer
I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.
This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!
Instructional Designer Training Facilitator
Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.
I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!
Freelance Instructional Designer
My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!
Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design
I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.
Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!
Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer
Shawntay has been incredible!
Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.
Beth B. De Lima, MBA, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP
President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.
IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!
The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.
LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker
A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!
Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University
Creative & Highly Talented!
Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer. She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program. It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.
Breaks Down Mammoth Projects
“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach
“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning
Top Notch Professional
Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.
Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research
Fortunate to Find Shawntay!
“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.
Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!
“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”
Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services
Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?
“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships
Quality Products & Solutions!
“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”
Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach
“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”
Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.
Managing Partner, PHiG
“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”
Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics
I have known and worked with Shawntay as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations. The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention. Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.
Al Lomas CMP, CEM, CMM, CFE
Owner, Certified Consulting Services
“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”
I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.
Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!
Training Specialist, LegalShieldCourses