An interesting article that I remember reading a few years ago, Labels Do Matter by Patrick Lowenthal who I collaborate with on Twitter and the ITForum. Here he discussed the difficulty of various labels that professionals in our field hold, e.g., Instructional Designer, Instructional Technologist, Educational Technologists, etc. These are used in job postings, titles of academic programs, etc. While there is a great amount of discussions and disagreements in that area, I am not finding any specific information regarding levels/career paths within those labels. Although, when we visit institutional job posting sites for our “instructional” field, e.g., HigherEdJobs and The Chronicle we find various levels like:
*Omitted search results with trainer, manager, etc.
SimplyHired lists a summary of these levels, a survey results of their pay scales, and links to various positing’s in both corporate and higher education. The diversification of instructional designer “levels” is even more apparent in job search sites like Monster, Indeed, and LinkedIn (not linked i.e., requires authentication).
Practicing instructional designers wanting to advance in this field either within their own organization or leaving to another organization are all looking at these types of “labels.” Why? Obviously we all hope to show advancement in our careers wither the research supports labels or not. For me personally I have always not relied on labels and focused more on responsibility rather than titles and prestige.
Similar to the Web Design students that I teach. They often feel like they are not qualified to build a website professionally until they have a degree or certificate. But this is far from the case. I have a colleague who works at AT&T and hires programmers. There is a good chance that a degree or certificate might get you in the door for an interview but your programming skills will be tested onside with 50+ other aspiring programmers. If you cannot program then you will not get the job wither or not you have a 4.0 in an undergraduate programing.
I share this with my students to in force the fact that it is often not about grades. It is wither or not you can code or not. So what sets you apart more is the ability to code but also the ability to think creativity about the designs and functionality. Grades really don’t matter. A portfolio of design work and the ability to perform on site is what will get you the job and allow you to keep it after your first week.
In an upcoming posting, I will discuss the possibility of using International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (IBSTPI) competencies perhaps internally or externally to distinguish between instructional designers.
But what I am more interested to hear now is your perspective on the labels of instructional designer? Is your current position distinguished with such a label? What are your thoughts on going from one distinction to another within an organization or to another organization? Do you agree with me that perhaps these labels don’t really matter? Is it the responsibility and projects that count?