If you are reading this article, then there is a good chance that you are thinking of breaking away from teaching and looking for a new career.
Instructional design is hands down the best career for every ex-teacher in 2022.
In a nutshell, instructional designers teach and train people in the workforce, primarily through digital learning experiences (Think Khan Academy, but for a specific company or program).
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive shift toward online and digital work, and companies and employees are struggling to keep up.
This means that there is an ever-growing need for people who can take complicated material, break it down into its component parts, and create training programs to help people get up to speed quickly.
This is where you come in. In the following section, we will cover all the reasons why instructional design is the best career for teachers.
Something made you want to become a teacher, which means you aren't looking for just any alternative job. Whether it was because you enjoyed creating material, helping people learn, or developing yourself, you chose the teaching profession for a reason.
You have a wide-ranging, complicated skillset, and there is no reason to abandon it simply because you needed to step away from teaching and find a second career.
Your teaching experience transfers beautifully into the world of instructional design.
Instructional designers typically take expertise from stakeholders(like CEOs and managers) and Subject Matter Experts(like technical experts and senior employees) to develop training materials for the audience(employees, interns, etc.)
For example, a pet store might hire an instructional designer to make a learning experience that teaches new hires about the company's products. The company wants its workforce to be able to quickly provide help and advice to pet owners.
The instructional designer would talk to the store managers about their needs and what problems new employees are having. Next, they would talk to senior employees or pet experts to figure out the critical information new employees would need to know.
The instructional designer then takes all of that information and creates an engaging learning experience. In this learning experience, the new employee would learn the essential information they would need on the job. Then they would go through practice scenarios where they are helping a customer take care of their pet.
Your teaching skills fit perfectly into this role. You already know how to lesson plan and create teaching materials. All you have to do is adapt those skills for a different audience.
The similarities between instructional design and teaching mean that you already have a core understanding of how to convey complicated information to an audience, but instructional design has a lot more long-term sustainability.
While there are surely exceptions, according to our research 94% of instructional designers report a healthy work-life balance.
Once you finish a project, it's done. There are no complaints from parents, long weekends grading, or staying up late to make lesson plans for the day ahead. While circumstances vary from job to job, as a general rule once five o'clock rolls around you are done for the day.
This means more time for family, friends, and yourself.
While having a teaching degree and the appropriate certification are necessary to get a teaching job, instructional design as a field is open to a range of backgrounds and qualifications. The writing skills, communication skills, and interpersonal skills you developed as a teacher already fit perfectly in instructional design.
The majority of instructional designers don't have a degree in instructional design or a certificate. Many of the people who end up as instructional designers actually come into the field when they are given training responsibilities in the workplace.
In a survey we conducted in 2021, only 42.6% of hiring managers stated that they preferred to hire someone with a degree in instructional design.
While these credentials can help you land a job, they are far from necessary. So long as you are willing to put in the work and learn the required skills, you are likely to find a job.
Instructional design can be a lucrative career. The average corporate instructional designer earns $86,327 a year in the USA, what most teachers can expect to make at the end of their careers, and the average freelance instructional designer in the USA earns roughly $104,228.
If you want a more accurate picture of how much you can make as an instructional designer, check out this full 2021 instructional design salary report.
Were you among those teachers who enjoyed the shift to distance learning and are feeling nostalgic for the freedom of remote work?
During the COVID pandemic, many teachers found that they actually preferred working remotely and were reluctant to go back to the classroom. If working remotely is important to you, then there is no reason why you won't be able to find a job to accommodate your needs.
For freelance instructional designers, remote work is the default. In addition to this, more and more corporate positions are opening up to remote work as well. This tendency is only going to increase going forward.
Many teachers complain about the lack of career development in education.
while teachers may be able to work up to higher roles within a school district, often professional development seems to end there. If you aren't interested in more administrative and directive work like becoming a department head, school administrator, or principal then there are very few opinions available.
Instructional design, on the other hand, has a much more diverse career path and more opportunities for development.
You can work in higher education or in the corporate world. You can have your own company or join a corporate team.
You can specialize in one aspect of instructional design or pursue a more diversified skill set. You can become a project manager for instructional design teams. Or you can work in underserved sectors like social work to make a difference.
Once you become comfortable with the technology, you can create your own courses or training content. For example, you can put a course on Coursera or Skillshare and every time someone takes the course, you earn passive income.
Currently, there are very few instructional design jobs that focus on working with kids. If working face-to-face with children or connecting with each student was the main reason you enjoyed being a teacher, then instructional design might not be right for you.
Also, while not all ID work involves complex tech, if you really struggle with or hate using technology, then this may not be the career for you.
Before you jump into any new career you should spend some time exploring it. We have tons of free content that can help you make this decision, and we have an active community to join so that you can ask current and aspiring instructional designers questions and see if this is right for you.
If instructional design sounds like something you might be interested in, then we highly recommend signing up to receive our free How to Become an Instructional Designer Checklist.
This list will show you the critical steps that you need to take in order to become an instructional designer. The checklist covers the most important models and theories of instructional design as well as the technology that will help you get a leg up in this field.
Whether you choose instructional design or something else, we wish you the best of luck in your job search.