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Specialization Spotlight: Instructional Designer Salary and Career Outcomes with a Master of Education

February 14, 2024

Instructional design blends art and science to help educators deliver more effective, engaging, and inclusive learning experiences, enabling learners to gain new skills and reach educational milestones. 

Working alongside educators and subject matter experts, instructional designers play a crucial role in shaping learning environments. In traditional classrooms, they use evidence-based practices to develop and evaluate curricula, lesson plans, and learning activities. In online programs or corporate training environments, instructional designers leverage technology to create interactive and dynamic pedagogy.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in instructional design, a Master of Education (MEd) program with an instructional design focus—like the online Master of Education from Tulane University—can help you reach your goal. This article explores what instructional designers do, how much they earn, and career outlooks for MEd program graduates in this profession.

The Growing Demand for Instructional Designers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of instructional coordinators is expected to increase by two percent over the next decade, with approximately 19,200 job openings expected each year. Inside Higher Ed deemed instructional design “the hottest job in higher education” in 2020. 

Instructional designers leverage expertise in education, technology, and pedagogy to create effective digital learning experiences. They utilize their knowledge of inclusive design principles, assistive technologies, and adaptive learning software to support educators in meeting individual learner needs. 

Instructional designers can also help educators implement new tools and strategies—such as virtual and augmented reality, learning management systems, and gamification—to provide more interactive and engaging learning opportunities. A multidisciplinary skill set equips instructional designers with the agility to adapt to change in the fast-moving education world.

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Where Do Instructional Designers Work?

While instructional designers traditionally work in academia, they can also apply their broad skill set in various industries, including:

  • Finance: Instructional designers develop training programs to help ensure financial institutions adhere to industry regulations and stay abreast of best practices.
  • Tech: Software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers rely on instructional designers to create and update user manuals and online tutorials for employees and customers.
  • Consulting: Companies and consulting firms may hire instructional designers to develop corporate training initiatives, such as onboarding, leadership development, and skill-building workshops. 
  • Healthcare: To keep up with technological advancements, healthcare organizations hire instructional designers to update their medical training programs.
  • Military: Instructional designers design training programs for military service members to help them build additional skills. 

Aside from instructional design, MEd graduates who choose this specialization could pursue related jobs such as learning experience designer, curriculum designer, or eLearning developer. 

Instructional Designer Salary Insights

According to the BLS and Payscale, instructional designers in the United States earn a median income between $66,000 and $69,000. The top ten percent of earners in this field make more than $105,000 annually. 

Various factors such as geographic location, industry, and level of education impact salaries. Instructional designers earn up to $80,000 a year in government jobs, while similar roles at schools may offer an average salary in the $62,000-$75,000 range. Instructional designers who live in high-cost-of-living cities will likely earn a higher salary than people in rural areas. Professionals in New York, for example, earn almost 19 percent more than the national average, according to Payscale data.

Most instructional design jobs require a master’s degree and industry experience, which directly impact earning potential. Professionals with master’s degrees make nearly 15 percent more in weekly earnings compared to people with bachelor’s degrees. Advanced skills in areas such as Microsoft Excel and program management may also make you more competitive in the job market. Pursuing a master’s degree, like the online Master of Education from Tulane, can help you develop the sought-after skills needed to increase your earning potential. 

Spotlight: Tulane’s Online MEd Learning Experience Design Courses

The Tulane online MEd program helps learners understand education systems, the curricula designs underpinning them, and the research methods that assess and improve them. The program offers a learning experience design specialization with courses in instructional design applications, emerging technologies, and learning design trends.

Through a practice-oriented approach, students learn how to apply technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) in the classroom. They also explore real-world case studies and methodologies in game-based learning, learner-centered design, and mobile learning. Upon graduation, Tulane online MEd students who choose this specialization can pursue career paths such as learning experience consulting, instructional design, and training and development. 

The Advanced Degree for an In-Demand Career Path

As the demand for online education grows, so will the need for instructional designers. A master’s in education can help you gain a competitive edge, meet evolving needs in the field, and ultimately increase your earning potential. 

With the online MEd program from Tulane, you can earn your degree 100 percent online in just two years. Through live classes, self-paced coursework, and a comprehensive capstone, you’ll gain foundational skills in learning processes, assessment tools, and research methods. By the end of the program, you’ll possess the necessary expertise and strategies to create more innovative, inclusive, and equitable teaching and learning programs in your community.

If you’re ready to take the next step, contact an enrollment advisor to learn more about the online MEd program admissions process, or start your application today. 

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