To get an Instructional Design degree or not to get; that’s the question. In this article I’ll explore both sides of the argument to help you determine if an Instructional Design degree is right for you.
How useful is an Instructional Design degree?
It’s the age-old question that virtually every instructional designer has asked at one time or another: “Is earning an Instructional Design degree really worth it? Will it actually help me land the job of my dreams, or is the investment of time and money too big for the rewards I can expect to receive?” If you’ve been having the same internal dialogue as countless other instructional designers, then you’ve come to the right place. This article is going to delve into this important question from all angles so that you can come to the right conclusion based upon your personal and professional goals.
When earning an Instructional Design degree can help you get a Instructional Design job.
While some employers may not require a degree in Instructional Design, there are many that do. But even employers who do not make it a prerequisite for their new hires may still choose a candidate who has a degree over one who does not. As such, one of the most convincing arguments in favor of getting an Instructional Design degree is that the industry is competitive, by nature. When you are out looking for an e-Learning job, you want to have every possible advantage over the other candidates who are vying for the same position.
Earning a degree gives you this competitive edge, because it shows employers that you went that extra mile to expand your understanding of the Instructional Design models and theories that you’ll need on the job. Aside from the resume boosting benefits of getting a degree, here are just a few additional reasons why pursuing an Instructional Design degree may be worthwhile:
1. Structured learning.
When you are attending an Instructional Design degree program, you must meet deadlines, complete assessments and make your way through a list of required reading. It offers you a more structured learning environment as opposed to expanding your e-Learning knowledge only through self-study. Instructional Design programs encourage you to explore topics at length and to gain invaluable insight into learning behaviors and new learning approaches, which will be of great use to you on the job.
2. Build your network.
When you pursue an Instructional Design degree, you are among like-minded peers with whom you can share experiences and skills. You can collaborate to complete projects and learn about different learning approaches. In short, you are able to expand your perspective and learn how to work with others effectively. This not only builds teamwork and communication skills, which are all-important in the corporate world, but it allows you to build a network that may be of use to you in the future. They may have job contacts you can reach out to after graduation, or you can enlist their aid when you need help on a project in the near future.
One of the most notable Instructional Design degree benefits is the experience you will receive from your time in the program. And it’s not just the abundance of experience, but the fact that you will have diverse experiences. You will have participated in a wide range of e-Learning course design projects and have learned about a variety of Instructional Design models, theories and principles that you may not have encountered had you not pursued your Instructional Design degree.
What if you choose to take the self-study path?
While earning an Instruction Design degree can help you to land certain jobs, the simple truth is that you don’t need to attend a degree program in order to create meaningful and powerful e-Learning deliverables. Earning an Instructional Design degree provides you with the tools, but it’s up to you to apply that knowledge effectively when developing e-Learning courses. And that is skill a degree can’t guarantee you.
So, the key to a winning career in the e-Learning industry is a constant thirst for knowledge and the ability to put what you have learned to good use. There are a myriad of free e-Learning eBooks, free e-Learning courses and other resources and tools that you can use to access a wealth of information about e-Learning design and development.
Here are just a few of the resources that are available for those who choose to take the self-study path:
1. Social networks.
Sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are all great places to connect with other e-Learning professionals and benefit from the experience and expertise they have to offer. There are even specific groups for Instructional Designers and educational content creators, where you can ask questions, ask for advice and deepen your understanding of the Instructional Design world.
2. eBooks and e-Learning sites.
There are a variety of free online resources you can use to expand your comprehension of Instructional Design ideas and theories. Free e-Learning eBooks and e-Learning sites offer insight and advice on how to get started in the field, as well as how to create successful e-Learning experiences. If you’d like to learn more about becoming an e-Learning professional, check the article The Free eBook: How to become an e-Learning Professional for tips and tricks from 23 leading industry professionals.
You can also volunteer to create e-Learning courses for free, which will give you the opportunity to hone your skills and collaborate with other more experienced Instructional Designers. Even though you’ll be offering your services free of charge, the Instructional Design experience you’ll be getting will make it well worth your time and effort. You will also be able to learn about new technologies, how to use them effectively and gain a better understanding of where your Instructional Design talents truly lie.
Ultimately, the answer to whether or not a degree will help you get an Instructional Design job is: it depends. The position, qualifications needed and experience preferred are all determining factors. As such, there is no right or wrong choice, only the one that is best for you and the future of your Instructional Design career.
Interested in getting an Instructional Design certificate? Read the article How to Choose the Right Online Instructional Design Certificate Program for invaluable advice on how to choose the Instructional Design program that’s right for you and your professional goals.
Subscribe to the Lectora® e-Learning Blog for more instructional design posts and e-Learning tips.