Are you considering e-learning careers? This section considers foundations and basics of what it entails to be a practitioner in the field. If you are in the job market for a job in e-learning or instructional design, there are various options to consider. Many of these jobs advertising e-learning careers for instructional designers, instructional technologist, curriculum design specialists, instructional design manager (project manager), instructional design consultant, training specialist, and senior instructional designer are some of the titles to look for.
Regardless of the title, the professional should have certain skills sets. Good instructional designers combine an understanding of the science of learning with an ability to put the available media, methods, and tools to work in the most effective, efficient manner possible. There are more jobs for instructional designers than for any other job category in e-learning. Many of them are temporary, contract positions and almost all require experience with specific tools, such as Flash LMS applications, or Web tools.
E-learning careers in instructional design and online distance education vary. In corporate and company positions, instructional designers handle the nuts and bolts of course design, and companies hire professionals with an in-depth knowledge of learning theory and business problems to direct larger development projects. People with e-learning careers generally have advanced degrees in education or instructional technology. It also helps to have strong business skills for example project management, so be sure to update your resume to reflect your skills.
The key to finding a job in e-learning is a combination of the skills mentioned above, plus the ability to be flexible. Having a variety of competencies, for example, is good and well. However, knowing all there is to know about learning theories but not being up to speed with the technologies that companies are interested in will put you behind the competition. Employers are interested in keeping their operational costs low, and they look for ‘specific generalists’, or people who can do a broad variety of tasks and are not locked into the job description. Successful professional are strategists, technicians (when need be), creative, have vision. They are ready when an opportunity presents itself, and are able to get the job done quicker at a lower cost.
However, as noted by experts, while learning as much as possible about the technical side of the business is important, the education side is key, because the technology changes too fast but the underlying design principles remain.
You cannot go wrong by furthering your education, whether by completing a degree or just taking a few courses. In addition, developing a strong network of interpersonal contacts is important for e-learning careers. You can do this by attending conferences, join professional organizations, and introducing yourself to people in your desired field. In fact 70-80% of jobs in most fields (e-learning included) are attained via personal network.
What you can do to increase your chances of locating and finding a job in instructional design:
- Evaluate your strengths-and weaknesses. Next, improve on your weak areas, for example by taking extra courses, or completing an internship with a company that you know will provide you with the skills you need.
- Expand your job search. Corporate training departments are often a good option, but beyond that look for positions in courseware development, universities and colleges, software companies, etc.
- Take advantage of Internet-based search engines that contain a large number of listings, or more specific descriptions.
Search for potential e-learning careers using the search box. Try a combination of different jobs titles such as e-learning specialist, instructional designer, or project manager.