What is Instructional Design & Technology?
There are several terms for this occupational area. The most common terms are Instructional Design, Instructional Technology, Instructional Systems Design, and Educational Technology. In the past, the role of an Instructional Designer versus an Instructional Technologist may have been very different. More recently though, with the increasing incorporation of technology into curricula, the differences between the two titles have been blurred.

Nature of Work

While Educational Technology tends to concentrate more on primary and secondary education, you may often see job postings for any number of Instructional Design positions but with some variation on the title. Instructional Designers & Technologists work in a wide array of corporate, educational and public organizations throughout the world. Instructional Designers & Technologists typically work in an office environment and utilize various Instructional Design models and theorems to develop and enhance learning.

Educational & Skill Requirements

Academic Training
While some professionals in this field have a purely educational background, it is becoming increasingly standard for a professional in the IDT field to possess a graduate degree in Instructional Design or Instructional Technology. Students who are considering going into this field should possess good interpersonal communication skills, be comfortable with learning and using new technologies, and be prepared to meet the continuing education demands of this profession.

Technology-related Skills
Designers & Technologists are increasingly utilizing technology to enhance instructional delivery as well as absorption and retention by the learner. Designers & Technologists tend to use computer software programs to develop e-learning modules to enhance or even entirely supplement traditional, classroom-based learning. Some of the most commonly used eLearning development programs are listed further down this page.

Computer software programs have also been developed to deliver instructional content electronically, typically through a company’s intranet or even over the World Wide Web itself. Recently, applications have been developed called Learning Content Management Systems (LCMSs). These applications typically serve not only to deliver instructional content through distance education but also to administer, track, and report such things as online events, maintaining educational records, testing, gauging assessment performance, etc. They often also provide instructors and students tools for online chat and collaboration. Some of the most popular LCMS applications are  WebCT®, Blackboard ®, and Moodle®.

While licensure is not required for Instructional Designers & Technologists, those persons who wish to work in a public school system will need to gain licensure in an area such as teaching or Educational Administration. Most Educational Technology programs are geared to prepare graduates for appropriate licensure, which is often required to work in most public school systems throughout the U.S.

Employment Outlook
According to the U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs for professionals in this field are expected to increase much faster than the national average for all other career paths. Currently, there are over 130,000 Instructional Design positions in the United States. It is estimated that by 2018, an additional 30,000 ID professionals will be needed to fill newly created positions.

Salary Information
According to 2009 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Instructional Designers & Technologists can expect a median annual salary of approximately $60,000 with some high-end earners making over $90,000 a year. Data also shows that IDT professionals working in public service settings such as schools or universities tend to receive compensation on the lower end of the spectrum while IDT professionals working for the federal government or private industry receiving the highest compensation figures.

eLearning Authoring Tools
As organizations increasingly rely on eLearning solutions as an instructional delivery strategy, IDTs have a number of excellent software authoring tools at their disposable.

Most Popular Tools
According to a 2011 survey1 of IDT professionals, the following software titles came in as the most frequently used for eLearning development. Note: Although not listed below, Articulate’s Storyline (released a year after the survey was published) has quickly risen to one of the most popular development tools currently used by IDTs.

  • 1. Adobe Captivate
  • 2. Articulate Presenter
  • 3. Articulate Engage
  • 4. Adobe Connect
  • 5. TechSmith Camtasia
  • 6. Adobe Presenter
  • 7. Harbinger Raptivity

Minimum Recommended Tools to Know
For current IDT professionals, graduate students, and others working to enter into the IDT field, the Center recommends gaining expertise in at least the following software titles:

  • Adobe Captivate
  • Articulate Studio ’09 (Presenter, Engage, and Quizmaker)
  • Articulate Storyline
  • TechSmith’s Snagit
  • Microsoft PowerPoint

Additional Development Tools Used by IDTs
For IDT professionals wishing to focus primarily on eLearning development, the Center also highly recommends becomomg proficient in the use of additional graphics, audio, and other multimedia development tools. The software titles listed below are most often listed in job postings on the Center’s Job Bank:

  • Adobe eLearning Suite
    • Acrobat
    • Captivate
    • Dreamweaver
    • Flash
    • Illustrator
    • Photoshop
    • Presenter
  • Adobe Fireworks
  • Adobe Premiere
  • Audacity
  • Lectora Inspire
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft Visio
  • TechSmith’s Camtasia

Useful Links to External Organizations & Publications
There are a number of national organizations and publications that offer useful resources for IDT professionals. While the Center is the only organization whose mission is to solely support IDT professionals, the organizations and publications below also offer a wealth of resources for IDTs.

    Professional Organizations

  • American Society for Training & Development
    ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) is the world’s largest association dedicated to the training and development profession. ASTD’s members come from more than 100 countries and connect locally in more than 120 U.S. chapters and with more than 16 international partners. Members work in thousands of organizations of all sizes, in government, as independent consultants, and suppliers.

  • Association for Educational Communications and Technology
    AECT is a professional association of thousands of educators and others whose activities are directed toward improving instruction through technology. AECT members may be found in colleges and universities; in the Armed Forces and industry; in museums, libraries, and hospitals; in the many places where educational change is underway. AECT members carry out a wide range of responsibilities in the study, planning, application, and production of communications media for instruction.

  • The eLearning Guild
    The Guild is the oldest and most trusted source of information, networking, and community for eLearning Professionals. As a member-driven organization, the Guild produces conferences, online events, eBooks, research reports, and Learning Solutions Magazine—all devoted to the idea that the people who know the most about making eLearning successful are the people who produce eLearning every day in corporate, government, and academic settings.

  • International Society for Performance Improvement
    Founded in 1962, the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) is the leading international association dedicated to improving productivity and performance in the workplace. ISPI represents performance improvement professionals throughout the United States, Canada, and 40 other countries.

  • International Society for Technology in Education
    ISTE represents more than 100,000 education leaders and emerging leaders throughout the world and informs its members regarding educational issues of national and global scope.


  • Chief Learning Officer
    Chief Learning Officer provides valuable guidance and insight to global enterprise education executives. The very people who oversee, authorize, fund and support learning and development programs turn to CLO as a trusted source when implementing initiatives for employees, customers, partners and suppliers.

  • The Learning Solutions Magazine
    Learning Solutions Magazine, a publication of The eLearning Guild since 2002, offers feature articles, case studies, reviews, interviews, spotlights, columns, snippets, tips, and news focused on eLearning.

  • Training
    Training magazine is a 48-year-old professional development magazine that advocates training and workforce development as a business tool. The magazine delves into management issues such as leadership and succession planning, HR issues such as recruitment and retention, and training issues such as learning theory, on-the-job skills assessments and aligning core workforce competencies to enhance the bottom line impact of training and development programs. Written for training, human resources and business management professionals in all industries.

  • Training & Development
    For more than 65 years, the award-winning T+D magazine has heralded and even led the evolution of the profession from training and development to workplace learning and performance—with the purpose to deliver to its readers the emerging trends and proven best practices.

1. Ganci, J.(October 12, 2011) Seven Top Authoring Tools. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved from

Useful Articles

7 Top Tips For Effective eLearning Voice Overs

April 24, 2015
How To Create Engaging And Effective eLearning Voice Overs (p. March 13th, 2015)

Instructional Designers by the Numbers

April 19, 2015
CNN Money says that being an Instructional Designer is the 38th best job in America. (p. March 19th, 2015)

Topics covered:
- Job Growth Over Next 10 Years
- National and Local Salary Averages
- Current Salary Average across the U.S. is $69,800*

Checkout the article for additional information.

*According to