Getting Started with Instructional Design

Lately I’ve been asked by a few people on how to get started with a career in instructional design and elearning. Here are some of the questions I received:

  • Could someone suggest that how to start my career in Instructional Systems Design field?
  • I’m interested in joining the field of Instructional Design. I’ve done my MA in English and also a diploma course in multimedia. I would really appreciate it if you could guide me on which companies to approach and how, to secure an entry level position. I am looking for something in the NCR region.
  • Can u tell me how relevant is teaching exp to ID?…..If I’ve 4 yrs of teaching exp, what would be the starting salary in ID?
  • Lots of my friends want to know about some good courses they can take on ID – ISDT / Symbiosis ID are amongst courses they are considering. Any suggestions?
  • Well i wud lik to get som information of ID work. if u share some link and actual ID work for elearning.


Getting Started

So what does it really take to be an instructional designer? What is instructional design anyway? Christy Tucker has a great series of six posts that can help you get started. Start with her first post in the series – What does an Instructional Designer do? and follow her other posts. Closer home, Rupa Rajagopalan also provides practical tips about instructional design in her blog One-Stop Resource for Instructional Designing. Start with archives on her blog and read your way up chronological posts. I also found an interesting article by Shilpa Shet on instructional design as a career. I have also written in the past about competencies required for an instructional design role. That post also has links to other sources for the same.

You could start with the following sites to get more information about elearning, instructional design, course development, although some of these just might be too heavy for absolutely new users.

Elearning/Content development Companies

There are many elearning/content development companies in NCR region. NIIT, Genpact, IBM are the larger ones and Infopro, Liqvid, Servetium, G-Cube are some of the smaller companies in NCR region. I have compiled a small list of companies on eCube Directory listing. It is not comprehensive by any means, but a start nevertheless. I am told that there are more than 100 elearning/content development companies in India.

Instructional Design Courses

I am not sure how good the courses in India are. I recommend getting a job instead. Symbiosis is quoted more often in conversations and so must be gaining some popularity as an instructional design course. But honestly, as a manager who has had to recruit for ID, I look for prior experience, and if there is no prior experience, I look for their core writing skills and ability to learn. Having a diploma is good but not essential.

Having said that, here are some of the courses you could look at. I have not evaluated any of them and don’t necessarily endorse any of them.


Career and Salaries in Instructional Design Jobs

Teaching experience helps but it actually depends on what you were teaching and what content you will be creating when you start with instructional design. If you were teaching in a school and you get a job to create K-12 (school) content, then your teaching experience will be relevant and may be considered when the company decides your starting salary. Most companies though will take your past work experience into consideration and give you some weightage for the same.

Basically you need to have good writing skills. This is most critical to get into instructional design job. Without good writing skills, it will be difficult to get into the role of ID. Writing skills is typically what is tested by companies for taking on new IDs.

Starting salary with 4 yrs exp but no exp in ID can vary from company to company. You can expect between 1.5 lac to 4 lac per annum CTC. The range is wide since the industry is relatively small. CTC will include PF, medical insurance etc. Refer to my unofficial salary survey of elearning and content development jobs for more inputs.

One could also try to land a job as technical writer to start with. Many technology companies hire tech writers, though it helps if you have a tech background to get started in a tech company. You will first probably start as content developer or tech writer, before moving to actual design. Good writing skills are essential for getting entry into the field.