instructional designer education requirements

How to Become an Instructional Designer

When we think of the people leading our school systems, teachers and administrators often come to mind. While these professionals are at the forefront of education, there are many lucrative careers behind-the-scenes that might be of interest to you. Instructional designers are a great example.

What is an Instructional Designer?

An instructional designer is responsible for creating engaging learning experiences for others. Typically, these professionals work alongside educators and school administrators to develop and implement compelling curriculums and instructional strategies within the classroom. Instructional designers research and prepare the learning materials that teachers should use, as well as think-through the most effective methodologies that will foster student success.

In this way, instructional designers are a vital part of curriculum development and creating positive learning environments. They use e-learning technology, multimedia tools, instructional design models, and other resources to create uniquely curated learning plans.

However, school systems are not the only area in which instructional designers work. Instructional designers may also develop educational courses and materials for businesses, governmental organizations, healthcare companies, and other organizations in need of instruction.

No matter where instructional designers work, they must have a combination of technical and creative skillsets in order to do their job. They must also have the sufficient amount of education and training needed to fulfill this role. If becoming an instructional designer sounds appealing to you, read on. Below we outline exactly how to become an instructional designer – from educational requirements to practical prerequisites needed along the way.

Education Requirements for Instructional Designers

In order to become an instructional designer, you must complete relevant education in the field. After earning an undergraduate degree, many instructional designers will pursue a master’s program in a related area of study, such as a Master’s in Education (M.Ed.). However, this is not the only path. You may also earn a graduate-level certificate in instructional design.

At Goodwin University, you’ll find a dedicated, graduate certificate available for those interested in becoming an instructional designer. This certificate program can prepare you for a career as an instructional designer, a professional development trainer, a learning coach, and other education-inspired careers. Within this program, you will learn how to develop and implement flexible, supportive, and diverse learning environments through the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework.

So, how do you get to this point? We’ll show you!

4 Steps to Become an Instructional Designer

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree.

The first step to becoming an instructional designer is to earn a bachelor’s degree in an area of interest. One great opportunity would be a bachelor’s degree in education (elementary or secondary). However, a bachelor’s degree in business may also suit your career goals.

2. Pursue a graduate-level education.

As implied above, instructional designers typically need a graduate degree or certificate under their belts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this is a common necessity when applying for jobs in public schools. Therefore, it’s important to find a program that aligns with your professional goals. A Universal Instructional Design certificate, for example, is a great way to learn about the field of instructional design and check off the graduate education box. At Goodwin, the Universal Instructional Design certificate program can be completed in as few as two semesters full-time, making it a streamlined path to a career you love.

3. Develop your skills in instructional design.

A relevant instructional design program will help you develop practical skills within this field. These programs teach all about curriculum design, instructional theory, and collecting and analyzing data.

For example, at Goodwin you will learn all about UDL principles and how to apply those to create a flexible and engaging learning environment. You will also learn about diverse student populations, how to facilitate access to education for your learners, and how to develop and implement learning strategies and resources within your student demographic.

Of course, the technical skills of instructional design are learned. There are also inherent qualities that instructional designers should have before diving into this role. These include:

  • Analytical skills to evaluate student success rates, teaching strategies, and more.
  • Communication skills to present curriculum and teaching standards to school staff.
  • Decision-making skills to recommend set changes to curriculums and textbooks.
  • Interpersonal skills to ensure positive working relationships with teachers and other school staff.
  • Leadership skills to effectively mentor and train teachers to utilize the new instructional strategies.


Looking to sharpen your knowledge and application of UDL principles even further? Goodwin University’s online M.Ed. program can set you up for success as a trusted leader in your field. Learn more today!


4. Gain experience and certification (if applicable).

Some instructional design jobs require several years of related work experience as a teacher or an instructional leader. And according to the BLS, instructional designers in public schools may be required to have a teaching or education administration license, too. Be sure to research your specific state requirements by contacting the Board of Education, as well as any individual prerequisites required by the job you’re applying for.

Are you ready to takes the steps needed to become an instructional designer – and find success in the field? Learn how Goodwin University can help. Contact 800-889-3282 to learn more, or visit us online to request more information about our certificate program.