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Instructional Design Specialist Career and Education

An instructional design specialist develops and helps to implement instructional materials. They are also known as instructional coordinator, curriculum specialist, director of instructional material, educational consultant, technologist and staff development specialist. Learn about the education required for this career, and find out what a career as an industrial design specialist involves.

What You Need to Know

Instructional design specialists are high-level professionals who evaluate educational materials, develop instructional curriculum and implement learning software and other instructional technology. A master's degree is required for specialist positions in public schools and strongly preferred for positions elsewhere. Many programs will also require you to complete an instructional design thesis before graduation while others may require a professional internship.

Education Programs Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Instructional Design, Master of Arts (M.A.) in Instructional Design and Technology, Master of Science (M.S.) in Instructional Design, Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Instructional Design, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Instructional Design and Technology, Instructional Design Certificate
Courses Curriculum design, education research, instructional systems analysis, educational psychology
Future Career Options Educational Software Developer, Learning Development Specialist, Instructional Trainer

What Will I Do As An Instructional Design Specialist?

Instructional design specialists develop and help implement instructional materials in coordination with educators to improve their effectiveness. You may also find instructional design specialists listed under titles like instructional coordinator, curriculum specialist, director of instructional material, educational consultant, technologist or staff development specialist. Their duties may include:

  • Planning and conducting teacher training conferences
  • Assessing student test data
  • Implementing curriculum standards
  • Recommending educational materials
  • Developing procedures for teachers
  • Recommending use of new technologies
  • Training and mentoring teachers

The majority of instructional coordinators work in elementary and secondary schools for state, local and private educational institutions. They also work in colleges, universities, governmental agencies and for educational support services. Although they work in academic settings, their job is year round and they don't typically take the summer off like teachers.

What Degrees Would I Need?

If you want to become an instructional design specialist you may want to consider further study after you earn your undergraduate degree. The most relevant graduate degree for you may be the Master of Education in Instructional Design. This program focuses on the areas of instructional design, teaching strategies and technology for K-12 schools or higher-learning institutions. In general, you can complete this instructional design program flexibly, on a full- or part-time basis, over the course of 2-3 years. Many schools also offer their master's degree program entirely online.

If you are interested in instructional design outside of educational institutions, you can also find classroom-based and online Master of Science degree programs in instructional design that do not have a strictly educational focus. Some universities also have graduate certificate programs in instructional design that can be completed in 6-18 months. These programs often place a strong focus on emerging instructional technology.

What Would I Learn?

Courses in instructional design programs tend to focus on areas central to the specialist's job role, including the evaluation and integration of technology, web and multimedia development and research fundamentals. An instructional technology course is also essential to the success of an instructional designer.