A Look at a Typical Instructional Designer Job Description

instructional designer looking at a computer

Are you passionate about the education field, but you’re not quite sure that you want to become a teacher? There are many other opportunities within the field to consider pursuing, such as an instructional designer career. What does an instructional designer do? Take a look at a typical instructional designer job description here.

In This Article:

What Does an Instructional Designer Do?

Instructional designers are also sometimes known as instructional coordinators or curriculum specialists. They are responsible for managing the curriculum that a school uses. They also develop curricula, lesson plans and learning activities. Once curricula are implemented, they assess whether improvements may be necessary.

An instructional designer can work in any type of educational setting, including public and private elementary, secondary and post-secondary institutions. They may also provide educational support services for local or state governments. Although the school year is shorter than the calendar year, an instructional designer will usually work year-round.

A Typical Instructional Designer Job Description

Now that you’re familiar with the gist of an instructional designer’s job, it’s time to take a look at some of the specific job tasks that these professionals may do. You’ll typically find the following items on an instructional designer job description:

  • Assess curriculum standards and discuss educational goals with the teachers and school administrators
  • Review textbooks and other learning materials currently in use, as well as textbooks that the school might purchase, and make recommendations
  • Develop curricula, lessons and other learning activities and materials
  • Establish protocols for the implementation of curricula and lesson plans
  • Evaluate test data from students
  • Plan, coordinate and conduct professional development workshops, seminars and similar events for teachers, such as to train them on new educational programs, content or learning standards
  • Stay informed of the latest federal, state and school board standards for curricula and instructional methods, and ensure that the school stays in compliance

How To Become an Instructional Designer

After high school, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in education that leads to teacher licensure. Following your degree, you will need to apply for a teaching license. Although it’s possible to land an instructional design job without a teaching license, many employers in this field prefer candidates who do have this qualification.

You’ll also need to earn a master’s degree. It’s best to look for a program that focuses specifically on instructional design, rather than education in general. After earning your master’s degree, you’ll be ready to apply for your first instructional design job.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Education

Depending on the school you choose, you may have the option of selecting either a general education degree (e.g. Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education) or one that concentrates on a particular specialty, such as a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Teaching Reading degree.

If you think you might like to specialize and you already have an idea of which area you’d prefer, you can choose a degree with a concentration. Whichever program you choose, it should lead to initial teacher licensure. Even if you aren’t planning on becoming a teacher, many instructional designer jobs, such as those within public school systems, require candidates to have a teacher’s license.

You will also need to complete one or more student teaching experiences. This will involve being placed with an experienced teacher for a semester. You’ll start by carefully observing the teacher, classroom and students, and then progress to working with students individually, in small groups and as a whole class.

Acquire a Teaching License

If you plan on working for a public school system or another type of employer that requires a teaching license, you may want to acquire one as soon as you earn your bachelor’s degree. You’ll need to meet the requirements established by your state, which will likely include providing proof of degree completion, transcripts and proof of student teaching experience.

Earn a Master’s in Instructional Design

Instructional designers are generally expected to have a master’s degree; a doctorate is usually not required. You could choose a master’s degree in teaching your chosen specialty area, if applicable. However, some schools do offer a master’s in instructional design, which is the ideal choice for aspiring instructional designers.

A master’s degree typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. When you enroll in a master’s in instructional design program, you can expect to study topics such as the following:

  • Neuroscience, behavioral and cognitive sciences as they relate to how they brain learns and retains memories
  • Fundamentals in applied research in education, including qualitative, quantitative and action research approaches
  • The history, research-based structures and practical approaches of instructional design
  • Current theories of learning and their application to the development of curricula and learning materials

Toward the end of your program, you may complete a capstone course. This is intended to demonstrate the culmination of your skills and knowledge. For example, you may develop a curriculum or lesson plans as part of your capstone course. By the end of your degree program, you should have also developed a professional portfolio of your work that you can use to increase your odds of landing your first instructional design job.

Are Instructional Designers in Demand?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth rate for instructional coordinators is expected to be about 10% from 2020 to 2030. This positive job growth rate is comparable to the national average for all professions. It indicates that employers expect to hire about 18,400 new instructional coordinators through 2030.1

If a career as an instructional designer is in your future, you can equip yourself for the road ahead with a graduate degree from Grand Canyon University. The Master of Science in Instructional Design degree program prepares education professionals to make a positive impact through the development of modern, informed curricula and other instructional materials.


1COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on 2020, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Instructional Coordinators.

Approved by the assistant dean for the College of Education on Dec. 21, 2022


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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