“Labels Do Matter” A Brief Survey of Instructional Design Job Posting Titles

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:

  • Instructional Assistant
  • Instructional Consultant
  • Instructional Designer
  • Instructional Designer II
  • Instructional Designer Senior
  • Instructional Design Specialist
  • Instructional Designer/Facilitator
  • Instructional Designer/Innovator
  • Instructional Specialist
  • Instructional Support Technician
  • Instructional Systems Designer
  • Instructional Technologist
  • Instructional Technology Consultant
  • Instructional Technology Specialist

*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).

comics-setting-own-job-titlesPracticing 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?

About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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3 Responses to “Labels Do Matter” A Brief Survey of Instructional Design Job Posting Titles

  1. Pingback: “Labels Do Matter” A brief look at IBSTPI Competencies for Instructional Designers | coffeeanDesign

  2. Pingback: “Labels Do Matter” Could we use the Human Performance Technology Model Statements for Instructional Designers? | coffeeanDesign

  3. Pingback: “Labels Do Matter” Could we use the Human Performance Technology Model Statements for Evaluating Instructional Designers? | coffeeanDesign

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