Teaching Careers and Professional Development

Learning Designer: Job, Requirements, and Outlook

By The SHARE Team

Learning designers, also sometimes referred to as curriculum developers, are a pivotal part of education. They work at all levels from preschool and primary school up to the university level and are responsible for developing curriculum, creating the courses and lessons that adhere to stringent requirements set forth by school boards, and creating teaching manuals and training guides for those working in the field of education.

Learning designers, who are typically employed in full-time positions with school boards or universities, work behind the scenes instead of in the classroom. Despite tight education budgets across the country, learning designers continue to be a crucial part of student and teacher education.

At a glance: learning designer

If you’re passionate about learning and education, becoming a learning designer can grant you the privilege of playing a major role in deciding what students learn in the classroom. As a learning designer, you must have a keen understanding of childhood development. This enables you to create developmentally appropriate curricula and lesson plans that are on par with the standards set forth by your state and the federal government. To help you determine if this career path is the right choice for you, read the information below to learn what makes a successful learning designer and how to become one.

Learning designer: job description

As a learning designer, your job is to identify education gaps and design a curriculum that enhances learning in the classroom regardless of grade level. Additionally, you’re responsible for providing educator training and learning materials to help them deliver effective lessons to their students. Learning designers perform the following duties:

  • Collaborate with educators, administrators, and school boards to determine education gaps and create or re-write curricula that are appropriate to students’ ages and developmental stages
  • Analyze test scores and student literacy data to assess the efficacy of current curricula
  • Attend professional development conferences
  • Create lesson plans and teaching materials, including tests, based on curricula
  • Prepare training materials for teachers and administrators

Learning designers should have a thorough understanding of the learning needs and developmental stages of children and teenagers so that curricula can be designed appropriately for students at every level. In some cases, learning designers may be required to visit schools or meet with teachers or school administrators to determine the school’s needs or to analyze teachers’ ability to implement lesson plans in the classroom.

What qualities make a successful learning designer?

Employers look for several essential qualities when hiring learning designers. These include:

  • A deep understanding of childhood development and learning disorders
  • Willingness to accept input from teachers and administrators
  • The ability to analyze large volumes of data, particularly student test scores
  • Diverse knowledge of school subjects including history, math, English, and science or, for university learning designers, subject matter expertise
  • The flexibility to deal with sudden changes in curriculum requirements
  • Creativity and ability to generate ideas
  • A background in teaching or school administration

Learning designers in-depth

Education requirements for learning designers

Learning designers often have a master’s degree in learning or instructional design, or in some cases, a master’s degree in teaching. When hiring learning designers, school boards often prefer candidates with some teaching experience or school administration experience.

Certification requirements for learning designers

No certifications are necessary to become a learning designer outside of the standard educational requirements.

Average salaries for learning designers

The average pay for learning designers varies depending on the state they’re located in, as well as whether they’re working at the primary, secondary, or post-secondary level.

According to PayScale.com, salaries for learning designers range from $38,000 to $76,000 in the United States. Depending on their employer, some learning designers may earn bonuses of up to $3,000 per year, as well. Average salaries for learning designers are posted across the web as follows:

Learning designers: Projected career growth across the United States

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which publishes data for a variety of occupations throughout the United States, job opportunities for learning designers or instructional coordinators are expected to increase by 6% by the year 2028. Most school boards highly value this position because of the role it plays in student success, a fact which may play into its projected employment growth.

Challenges and opportunities for learning designers

As a learning designer you may find certain aspects of your job more enjoyable than others, Your role as a curriculum developer provides opportunities for boundless creativity, however, your interactions with students may be limited.  

Pros:

  • Pay is considerably higher than the average teacher or administrator salary. Working as a learning designer allows you to be involved in student education while earning a higher rate of pay.
  • You can play an active role in the education of students. You’re responsible for determining what students learn and how they learn it, provided you work within the parameters of the state-mandated curriculum.
  • Working for a school board or university is less chaotic than working in schools, in most cases.
  • You have the opportunity to work with teachers and administrators to help them provide high-quality lessons to students.

Cons:

  • While learning designers play a critical role in student education, they don’t have the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with them. If you’re passionate about working with students, this may not be the career for you.
  • State and federal governments are known for making drastic changes to curricula, which can result in complete overhauls of previously designed teaching plans.
  • Your work is often critiqued by teachers and school administrators.
  • You may need to work overtime or on weekends, especially if urgent curriculum changes are required.

Professional development opportunities for learning designers

Learning designers have plenty of opportunities to take part in professional development courses and workshops that help them expand their knowledge of the subjects they teach and increase their abilities to provide efficient training to other educators and professionals. These opportunities include workshops and seminars offered at professional development conferences, as well as continuing education opportunities. In many cases, professional associations include workshops and networking events that cater to learning designers and other educators.

Continuing education for learning designers

Learning designers are often encouraged to take part in continuing education courses. In some cases, employers may cover the costs. Continuing education opportunities for learning designers include classes in technology, management, communications, and advanced subject matter, depending on the grade level of the curricula they’re responsible for creating.

Professional associations for learning designers

In addition to state education associations, several national and international professional associations for learning designers offer support to those in this occupation. These include:

Best of the web for learning designers

The internet is one of the best ways to stay connected with what’s happening in the field of learning design. By following top blogs and social media accounts on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, learning designers can acquire knowledge from others in their industry. In addition to providing advice and inspiration, blogs and social platforms are a fantastic way for learning designers to network with peers in their field from around the country and beyond.

Learning designer blogs

Learning designer Twitter accounts

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