Debunking 10 Myths about a Career Change to Instructional Design

Are you considering a career change to instructional design but find yourself surrounded by a whirlwind of doubts and misconceptions? Don’t fret! 

In this blog, I’m here to demystify the common myths that may be holding you back from embarking on this exciting and rewarding journey. Whether you’re concerned about your current skill set, the job prospects in the industry, or the challenges of transitioning to a new field, we’ve got you covered. 

Join me in this episode of AcceleratedID as I debunk 10 myths and equip you with the knowledge and confidence needed to pursue a successful career change to instructional design. Let’s separate fact from fiction and set you on the path to a fulfilling and impactful profession.




Career Change Myths

Regardless of what field you’re coming from, there are some big myths we need to bust about the idea of changing careers in general.

Myth #1: It’s too late for a career change

You may have put a lot of years into your current position, whether that’s because it’s related to your undergraduate degree or simply because you’ve been in the position for a while. Either way, that’s something to be proud of. But, you shouldn’t stay in a position where you’re unhappy or undervalued.


A lot of well-known people started the careers they’re best known for later in life. For example, Oscar nominated director Ava DuVernay didn’t pick up a camera until she was in her 30s. Author and Food Network personality Ina Garten was in a government position before she found Barefoot Contessa. And actor/comedian Ken Jeong was a doctor before he joined the Hangover movie franchise.


And of course, there are hundreds of people without name recognition that have successfully changed careers. 


The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to stay in the career you chose first. I mean, imagine if you stuck with the first person you ever dated!


People who say it’s too late are likely just uncomfortable, because changing careers is uncomfortable! It’s much easier to stay in a place, in a job that’s familiar to you. Discomfort is a sign of growth.


Myth #2: A career change is too risky



The real risk is staying in a career where you’re unhappy, unchallenged, or underpaid! You risk being miserable, stressed, and burnt out.


You may have people in your life whose discomfort with a career change gets passed on to you because it’s not something they can wrap their head around.


But, only you know what’s best for you. Do some self-reflection and ask yourself which you’d rather live with: the risks of staying in a position you don’t love versus the discomfort that comes with the growth of a career change.


Instructional Design Transition Myths

Now that we’ve busted some of the bigger myths and fears behind any career change, I want to focus on some that are specific to instructional design. Are any of these holding you back from growing into a career as an instructional designer?


Myth #3: Instructional designers are just course creators

I get this sometimes when I try to explain instructional design to others. They say “Oh, so you just create training?” 


Well, the reality is that as an instructional designer, we often are strategic business partners. We have to strategize the learning experiences we create in order to influence behavior change.


Because the training we create supports learning objectives that align with business objectives, we’re behavior changers! We are change management specialists who influence key metrics in an organization with our learning solutions.


If you’re interested in learning more about what, exactly, instructional designers do, check out this in-depth description.


Myth #4: You need an instructional design or education-related degree



You need to be skilled and knowledgeable in instructional design in order to get a job. If you can demonstrate those skills and knowledge in a portfolio, your education background doesn’t matter. 


In my team leading corporate L&D teams, I only had one team member with an undergraduate degree in instructional design. Everyone else took an alternate path. 


There’s a great article about what those different paths are that you can check out for a more detailed description if you’re interested. 


The most important takeaway here is that there’s no one size fits all path to a career change in instructional design. 


Myth #5: You need to have a background in teaching to transition to instructional design

What’s true is that teachers have a great foundation for instructional design, so the teacher to instructional designer pipeline has become popular recently. However, that is definitely not the only path to a successful career in instructional design!


I work with a lot of aspiring instructional designers in The Instructional Design and Tech Accelerator system and they come from all different backgrounds. Psychologists, HR Specialists, IT, graphic designers, just to name a few.


Myth #6: Instructional design is all about tech, so you better be an expert!



Instructional designers do work with technology a lot. Some examples include slide design, eLearning authoring tools like Storyline 360, and video development tools like Adobe Premiere Pro or my new favorite tool Descript


What makes this one a myth? I’ll tell you my experience, I’m still not an expert in a lot of those instructional design tools and I’ve led L&D teams for years! I have a general idea of how to use all those tools in an effective manner. I use Google and YouTube to look up PowerPoint and Descript tricks all the time.


So, the truth is that you do need to have familiarity with the tech, but you don’t have to be an expert. You might not end up getting in the weeds with development tools like Articulate Storyline, but you should know the capabilities so you can effectively storyboard. 


Myth #7: You need to be a subject matter expert to get into instructional design.

I’m going to give this one a big nope! This myth stems from some job postings that request experience in the industry. For example, the instructional designer role for a major airline might request background knowledge in aviation as a nice-to-have. But, that’s all it is! 


As an instructional designer, your expertise is in analyzing needs and designing learning solutions that are the best fit. You have knowledge in effectively partnering with stakeholders and analyzing existing resources to take content about any topic and turn it into a course. 


I have a great example for this one. Once, I had to create training on how to safely operate a forklift. Have I ever operated a forklift? No way! But I was still able to design that course for the client because I researched the topic on my own and consulted with other subject matter experts. 


Myth #8: Instructional design isn’t a creative field.



Coming into instructional design from highly creative fields like graphic design or teaching, you  might be worried that you’ll lose that creative muscle.


This myth is due in part to the guidelines set by stakeholders. Instructional designers usually can’t go crazy with design, they have to use existing branding guidelines (the colors and fonts that a company always uses). They also usually have to fit their training to a specific budget and time length.


But, we have to use our creativity to make sure that the learning solution is engaging within those boundaries. 


This is one thing I love about The Instructional Design and Tech Accelerator system. Our students get to choose their own topic for creating portfolio assets. So, they’re not really limited creatively! As a result, I get to see their personalities and abilities shine when I review their work. 


Check it Out: The Instructional Design and Tech Accelerator System  


Myth #9: All instructional design is the same.


I couldn’t tell you where this myth stems from, because it couldn’t be further from the truth! The instructional design work you do is often dependent on the setting you work in. Other factors include the type of role you have and what kind of project you’re working on. 


Let’s say you’re working in a corporate setting, you might touch projects for different teams within the organization as well as for the corporate audience or the end client. These might be instructor led training sessions or eLearning modules. It all depends on the setting and the audience. 


Your main tasks tend to stay consistent. You’ll analyze the training need, identify objectives, outline the learning solution, and so on. But after that, the work evolves based on the training need and the delivery method you’ve identified as being the best fit for that need.


I’ll tell you from my own personal experience, I’m never bored! I get to work on something new every day. 


Myth #10: You don’t make a difference as an instructional designer.

Instructional designers are often (but not always) behind the scenes, rather than in front of a learning audience. So, I think that’s the root of this myth. 


As instructional designers, we’re able to make a big difference in the lives of the people that experience the courses we design. Whether it’s training that keeps people safe at work, or helps them elevate their skills to get a promotion, we made a difference! 


Since I used to be a teacher, I understand the desire to really make a difference for learners. When I was standing in front of students, the results were more tangible. Now, as an instructional designer, I’m not limited to the 25 students in my classroom per year. I can work on learning solutions that touch thousands of learners all over the country!


Wrapping It Up

Well, we just debunked 10 big myths that might be holding you back from making a career change. 



Are you feeling lighter and more motivated to make a move? I hope so! By debunking these 10 myths, I hope you feel more empowered and inspired to pursue a career change to instructional design with confidence and clarity. 


Remember, making a career change is an exciting opportunity for growth and fulfillment. Embrace the possibilities, follow your passion, and embark on a rewarding journey in instructional design!



FTC Disclosure: Hey, there!  If you happen upon a link to a product or tool, you should assume that it is an affiliate link. If you click on it and like it and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission. We only promote tools and products that we believe are helpful and good. 

The Testimonials are In:


Shola Richards

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.

Shola Richards


Graphic Designer

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.

Gayle Bower


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.

Laurie Henderson


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!

Wendy McMillian


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!

Gabby Grimaldo


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!

Shanna Howe


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).

Aviva Berkowitz


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.

Darlene Dalgleish


Instructional Designer

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!

Shawnice Edge


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!

Brian Hightower


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!

Sarah Smith


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.

Lee R


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!

Sheryl Rhoades
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.

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.

Amanda Buckley
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.

Susan Gatti
President, IMMIXID


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.”

Rick Miller
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach


eLearning Development

“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.”

Ashley Christian
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.”

Jonathan Burt
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!”

Mellora Moore
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.

Patrick Hodges
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!

Mike Stubblefield
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics


“Spot on”

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.

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!


Katie Carter
Training Specialist, LegalShield

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