instructional designer competencies

10 Instructional Designer Skills and Knowledge Needed for a Successful Career

Most people can agree that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to learning. Some individuals are visual learners, some are auditory, some are kinesthetic, and still others learn best by reading and writing.

Furthermore, learning styles are shaped and influenced by many factors, such as age, neuro-diversity, socialized gender norms, race, economic status, geographical location, and more.

For these reasons, instructional designers have shown up on the educational scene. They work to provide inclusive, accessible, and flexible educational opportunities so that learners of all types, shapes, and sizes can achieve their full potential.

Let’s look at the career of an instructional designer and the 10 instructional design skills and knowledge needed to pursue this exciting and rewarding field.

What is Instructional Design?

Instructional design involves the careful development of educational materials and experiences such as instruction manuals, training workshops and materials, online courses, and adaptable curriculums. All of these are valuable and essential in supporting the function of schools, classrooms, and workplace learning environments, as well as diverse learners everywhere.

Additionally, instructional designers are creative professionals who produce learning materials and experiences for classrooms, companies, and organizations, specifically focusing on teaching, training, aiding, and engaging learners.

Many instructional designers work alongside educators and school administrators to develop and implement compelling curriculums and instructional strategies within the classroom. However, they also develop materials for businesses, governmental organizations, healthcare companies, and others.

10 Essential Instructional Design Skills and Competencies

Regardless of where they work, instructional designers need a combination of technical and creative skill sets to build a successful career. These include, but are not limited to:

1. Project Management

Project management is the key to meeting deadlines, staying on task and within budget, and ensuring high-quality outcomes through planning, organizing, and controlling resources.

Project managers, therefore, are the individuals responsible for directing and advising their team’s activities to accomplish the project and goals.

By being skilled in project management, instructional designers will not only achieve their goals of creating and implementing learning tools and methods, but they will also be adept at identifying and managing their time and resources, which leads to better learning strategies, activities, and experiences for all involved.

2. Technological Know-How

Our world is growing at an extraordinary rate, and the utilization of technology barrels forward at an almost incomprehensible speed.

Successful instructional designers cultivate a deep understanding and knowledge of how to use technology to aid universal design and learning, whether assessing how beneficial a specific software program is, or learning how to use a new piece of technology without formal training.

Instructional designers need to be familiar with and know how to use videos, slideshows, online and written materials, audiobooks, and traditional books to make learning materials so that they can teach others how to use them, too. Knowledge of programs like SharePoint, Captivate, and various video editing software also benefits instructional designers.

3. Communication Skills

To effectively and efficiently present curriculum and teaching standards to others, instructional designers must be skilled communicators.

They must often present complex topics in terms that others can understand, which requires strong writing, storyboarding, and verbal communication skills. Instructional designers must be able to articulate a project’s goals and objectives and explain step-by-step how to bring their or their client’s vision to life.

Lastly, their verbal and written communication skills must be sharp so presentations are exciting, engaging, and easy to understand.

4. Understanding of Learning Methodologies and Models

If instructional designers are going to improve how people learn, they must first have a deeper understanding of how people learn.

In addition to the previously mentioned learning styles, this can also mean analyzing an organization or classroom’s goals, the characteristics of the learners and learning environment, and the needed skills and attitudes to learn the materials.

Once instructional designers have this knowledge, they will then be able to incorporate various forms of instructional design, such as:

  • Different options or methods for assignments
  • Flexible learning spaces
  • Accessible materials
  • Providing constructive and positive feedback

5. Active Listening Skills

Active listening allows instructional designers to show learners that they care, are focused on learners’ needs, and are willing to see things from their point of view.

Instructional designers are also more capable of asking relevant and well-timed questions when they actively listen rather than, in the case of most people, listening to respond. These questions will also bring clarity and understanding to the situations, statements, and learning outcomes you are trying to improve.

6. Analytical Skills

By developing and strengthening analytical skills, instructional designers are better equipped to evaluate student success rates, teaching strategies, and more.

They solve learning problems and issues with new, fresh, and dynamic ideas. Skilled instructional designers can identify the problem and come up with creative and analytical options and alternatives that will ultimately lead to a solution.

7. Interpersonal Skills

Instructional designers work in a variety of settings as they engage and collaborate with different types of people, from students to teachers, school administrators, and even high-level executives,

Working with so many different populations requires instructional designers to create positive working relationships and environments. They need to be able to resolve issues that arise and overcome objections from others to make an impact on the lives of students and employees.

8. Leadership and Decision-Making Skills

At the end of the day, instructional designers are the ones schools and organizations turn to to implement instructional design methods and measures to gauge and improve student comprehension.

As such, instructional designers must be able to lead others in implementing and utilizing instructional design in their classrooms or offices. Successful instructional designers are trustworthy leaders who can effectively mentor and train teachers to utilize new instructional strategies.

9. Passion for Learning and Knowledge

Instructional designers are lifelong learners with an exorbitant passion for learning and teaching others.

They constantly seek new information and topics to learn and teach across all industries and professions by reading the latest research in scholarly journals, blogs, websites, and books. Then, they implement their new findings and techniques in their own work while encouraging others to do the same.

10. Career Growth

The last skill successful instructional designers need is the desire for career growth and advancement.

In addition to learning new techniques, they also study personal past performance to measure their progress and success. Analyzing their performance metrics allows them to perform better and more efficiently in their next job or task.

Plus, with a six percent employment growth rate reported by the BLS for training and development specialists, which instructional designers fall under, they can be confident that their role is both essential and in high demand.

Acquire and Strengthen Your Instructional Design Skills at Goodwin University

If you are passionate about learning, technology, and advancing professional learning opportunities for all individuals in their organization or school, then a career as an instructional designer is a perfect choice.

By taking courses in universally designed learning experiences, assessments for learning, engagement for learning, and instruction for learning, you’ll develop the skills necessary to create and implement educational courses and instructional materials for all types of learners.

It’s all possible through our entirely online Universal Instructional Design Certificate program, which can be completed in as few as two semesters-full time. Don’t wait to advance your skills and pursue a thriving career as an instructional designer.

Apply today!