Are you a burnt-out teacher convinced teaching is the only job you can do? You’re not alone! But, you’re wrong about changing careers from teaching. You’ll be surprised to learn how many transferable skills exist between teaching and instructional design. Instructional design is a great job opportunity for former teachers.
By leveraging the skills I’ll review below, you can change careers from teaching with confidence because an instructional design job is within reach with the skills you already have from your teacher job! You don’t even have to get a new degree to make the transition.
15 Teacher Job Skills That Can Help You Change Careers From Teaching to Instructional Design
Considering changing careers from teaching is stressful enough without worrying about starting from scratch with your employable skills. Luckily, this is not the case for educators considering a switch to a career in instructional design.
Take it from me. A former burnt-out teacher turned instructional designer and Trainologist. As a mentor, I’ll help you find the connections between your teacher skills and relevant instructional designer skills. As a business owner, I find tremendous value in hiring former teachers. Did you know our Director of Learning Solutions, Katie, is also a former teacher? As are many of our freelance instructional design contractors
Well, Katie has pulled together 15 common teacher job skills that have direct relevance to instructional design jobs. Check her out in the latest episode of The Accelerated ID.
Why Change Careers from Teaching to an Instructional Design Job?
One thing all teachers have in common is a love of learning. That’s why an instructional design career can be a natural transition for teachers.
If you’re brand new, you should first understand what is instructional design. You’ll see that as an instructional designer, you get to take your passion for education and apply it to a variety of audiences.
Not to mention, many of the less desirable aspects of teaching are non-issues in instructional design. For example, you won’t have to deal with student behavior issues, and you won’t be asked to give up your plan period to cover for a colleague.
Best of all, you’ll be compensated for your time and talents! If you need any more motivation, read this article about why teachers make the best instructional designers.
Teacher Skills and the ADDIE Model
In instructional design, we often follow the ADDIE Model to complete a training project.
The teacher job skills below are organized to match the ADDIE Model. I’ll walk you through the parallels to see how what you do in your teaching job fits into instructional design work.
Now, let’s dive into the 15 teacher skills you can apply to an instructional design job!
1. Planning Curriculum and Lessons
As a teacher, you lesson plan daily and maybe even have a hand in curriculum planning for your department or district.
In instructional design, we do the same thing! We call it the Analysis phase of ADDIE. More specifically, we conduct a training needs analysis. The more you learn about instructional design, the more you see how important this phase is. When considering changing careers from teaching, these skills are the foundation of what we do in instructional design!
2. Understanding an Audience
Teachers know their learners and can present new learning in a way that the students will best understand. In fact, teachers get to know the needs of their grade level and their specific students so well that they can do this step without much thought after a while!
Instructional designers don’t necessarily know their specific audience as well as a teacher knows their students. That’s why we define a learner persona. Essentially, we use the information at our disposal to answer questions like:
- Who is our learner?
- What are their pain points?
- How will they benefit from this course?
3. Examining Learning Objectives
Next up in our analysis phase, we have the learning objectives. Teachers work with learning objectives every day. Some teachers have a list of learning objectives they have to meet by the end of the year, while others are given a textbook and have to figure out the goals themselves.
When you’re working in instructional design, you define the learning objectives with input from stakeholders as a result of the information you gathered during the needs analysis.
4. Mapping Lessons
Working with learning objectives in teaching also means mapping to your curriculum and state benchmarks. This involves careful planning, so your objectives are evenly spread throughout the year, and nothing gets left out.
I would say this process is much easier in instructional design! We take training learning objectives and align them to business goals within the organization. For example, an organization’s goal might be to reduce costs, and our training project is for new software. To make a connection, we would focus on how effectively using the software will allow employees to work smarter.
5. Creating Activities and Slides
Now, we’re getting into design and development.
Once teachers know what learning objectives they’re teaching on any given day, they have to start creating resources that will allow their students to meet those objectives.
Whether a worksheet or a slide deck, the teacher job skills required here are the same we use in an instructional design job. Instructional designers often write a formal script to be sent to narration or for a facilitator to read in preparation for facilitating a learning experience. This is a step teachers usually get to skip since you’ll be delivering that information yourself.
Instructional designers also create storyboards. Storyboarding is when we use a template to plan out where we’ll introduce content and how it should look onscreen.
6. Choosing Resources
Often, teachers need to find existing resources (like videos) that complement their lessons. Then, you make sure the resource is a good fit for your lesson and that it’s appropriate for your audience. Maybe, you even edit or alter an existing resource to make it work for your class.
Instructional designers also have to be mindful of the multimedia they add to their training projects. For example, images and videos have to match an organization’s brand guidelines and be ADA compliant. Sometimes, we work with graphic designers or video editors to get the multimedia we need.
7. Delivering Lessons
This is a teacher’s bread and butter. Finally, you’ve got all the planning done, you have your resources, and you’re ready to teach.
We call this implementation in instructional design, and it looks a little different for us, but the principles are the same.
Instructional designers don’t often facilitate the training we create. Instead, we make sure the scene is set for successful implementation.
8. Evaluating Lesson Success
Evaluation is the last part of the ADDIE Model. It holds great value in both teaching and instructional design.
After a lesson, teachers gauge success in many ways. For example, they reflect on student engagement. They might also use formative data, like how students answered questions and how well they could complete activities.
This reflection informs how they deliver instruction, whether the next lesson or the next class period. Teachers continue practices that went well and scrap the ones that didn’t work out.
When instructional designers evaluate the success of a learning solution, they have to use different data points. Since instructional designers aren’t always in ‘the room where it happens,’ they rely on anecdotal data, participant surveys, and reports from training facilitators or a learning management system. Just like teachers, instructional designers will take whatever course data they have and use it to improve the next iteration of the course.
9. Creating Quizzes and Tests
Love it or hate it, writing test questions is a job requirement of both teachers and instructional designers! The good news? If you change careers from teaching to instructional design, you won’t have to be grading these tests.
Instructional designers have to be able to synthesize subject matter and create questions for knowledge checks. This can be tricky because as the instructional designer, you aren’t the subject matter expert. But, the basics are the same. Teachers know how to craft questions that will test knowledge.
More good news: knowledge checks in course creation are typically much shorter than the average test.
Bonus Skills That Support a Career Change from Teaching to Instructional Design
I’ve got a few more important skills teachers have in their tool belts. These don’t necessarily fit in just one phase of the ADDIE Model, but they are highly transferable to instructional design.
10. Managing a Classroom
I know I mentioned earlier that being an instructional designer means you don’t have to deal with classroom management issues. This is different, I promise! All the planning, organizing, and managing you do within your classroom will contribute to a crucial instructional design skill.
Project management is a skill that employers look for in their instructional design hires. While project management is a formal process that might sound a little intimidating, your teacher skills lay the foundation for you to be an awesome project manager. You can read more about project management in instructional design here.
11. Facilitating Activities
It’s one thing to be able to come up with learning activities. However, teachers also understand that you have to match an activity to your audience. For example, I have a great scavenger hunt activity I use to do with my fifth and sixth graders. However, I would never plan to do it on a Friday afternoon or the last day before winter break.
That understanding helps you as an instructional designer to choose learning activities thoughtfully. It would not be a good reflection of the instructional designer if a chosen activity ended up being too confusing for the learner to navigate.
12. Planning for a Substitute
Did you ever think writing sub plans would come in handy outside of teaching? I sure didn’t! Teachers understand the balance of clarity and detail that goes into sub-plans. If they’re too wordy, the sub might skim or get lost. But, if you don’t spell out the instructions clearly, your class could be a disaster!
This skill is directly translatable to instructional design. Writing narration, creating course companions and facilitators guides, and leaving presenter notes all require that same level of clarity. Just like in teaching, the better your instructions are, the more likely your training will be successful.
13. Using a Learning Management System
If you weren’t using a learning management system (LMS) much before COVID, you definitely got a crash course during! Google Classrooms and Canvas are both LMS you might use to post your lessons.
Instructional designers also rely on an LMS to deliver learning to adult learners, so this is a valuable skill. However, even if the LMS is different, the organization and understanding of how learners navigate the content are the same.
14. Communicating With Others
Teachers are great communicators! Not only that, but you know how to deliver information- good and bad- to multiple groups. This means you tailor your language to better communicate with a child, parent, administrator, or coworker. That’s huge! And it will help you navigate conversations you might have as an instructional designer. We work with subject matter experts, human resources, department heads, developers, and more (no teenagers, though).
15. Finding Creative Solutions
Teachers are the most creative people I know, whether they’re aware of it or not. Of course, a teacher’s creativity comes in many different forms.
Visual creativity: some teachers are artists! They can pull together projects that combine art and learning. Their graphic design skills shine through in their slide decks and other resources they build from scratch.
Creative problem solving: if you’ve got a problem, a teacher will solve it! Not enough money to fund a project that students will love? A teacher will find a way to make it happen. A huge unit to finish in the middle of mandatory state testing? Teachers are on it. A global pandemic that forces all kids to learn from home with no notice? Yep, the teachers did that, too!
That’s just to name a few!
Teaching is a Superpower
Too often, educators are made to feel like they’re ‘just a teacher.’ I hope by now you’ve realized that the job skills required of teachers every day can make a significant impact in the field of instructional design.
A teacher’s love of learning and learners sets a firm foundation to build a fantastic instructional designer. So, if you’re curious about making a move, here are a few more resources you have to check out.
Teacher to Instructional Designer Resume guide: learn how to translate your teaching resume into one that will get you noticed for an instructional design job.
Instructional Design Basics: learn more about instructional design in one of these beginner classes.
The Accelerated ID: subscribe for free, weekly instructional design mini-lessons.
Wrapping it Up
Have questions about instructional design? Then, you’ve got to join The Hangout. You’ll find an incredible community of current and aspiring instructional designers that can help you decide if instructional design is right for you!
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, LegalShield