Educators are Becoming Instructional Designers. Why and How?

By : Alyssa W.

As we all remember, 2020 was a  year of change for many industries, including education. Following the 2020 pandemic, the education field witnessed a substantial increase in educators opting to leave the field. According to the National Education Association in 2022, nearly 55% of educators were considering leaving the profession early. As teachers are leaving the profession, many of them are discovering how their skills as an educator translate efficiently into the world of instructional design. So, why are educators becoming instructional designers, and how is their experience as an educator beneficial in this career change? 

Why are educators leaving the field? 

It is no surprise that over half of today’s educators are considering leaving when so many are overworked, underpaid, and often underappreciated. There are many factors that contribute to the increase of educators leaving the field, so what exactly are they?

  • Stress. Many teachers state that there are unrealistic expectations and are likely to take on too many roles as a result. Besides educating the youth, teachers must manage their classroom and students, which means that educators regularly take on the role of counselor, friend, nurse, parent, etc. 
  • Time. Contrary to popular belief, educators often work outside of school hours. It is reported that one in four educators work more than 60+ hours a week. Since educators actively teach during their usual 8-hour workday, it leaves little time for preparation and grading. A majority of teachers will find themselves working outside of the classroom to prepare lessons, gather materials, plan ahead, grade papers, respond to parent emails, and so on.  
  • Pay. Educators are typically paid less than most other professions that require the same education and skills. On top of being underpaid, educators often have to pay for their own materials due to lack of budget and/or resources. 
  • Lack of resources. Depending on the socio-economic status of the school, many educators find themselves paying out of pocket for resources due to insufficient funds. Lack of materials such as paper, writing utensils, books, etc., leads educators to pay for their own materials in order to truly accomplish their job and be successful. 
Bluish-green pillow sits on top of a textured lined light brown background. On the pillow is an e-tablet showing a woman at a white board writing “E-LEARNING

What are instructional designers and what do they do? 

Instructional designers create learning experiences and resources for educational, business, and training purposes. Instructional designers determine what people will learn, how they will learn it, and how learning will be assessed. 

Why do educators make good instructional designers? 

Educator skills can easily translate to instructional design regardless of the subject and/or grade. Like teaching, instructional design requires preparing the lesson, knowing the material, understanding who is leaning the information, and assessing if learning needs were met. The main differences are the actual learners and learning environment, but both professions essentially have the same goal: teach the necessary material.  

How can you get started? 

To get started, there are many opportunities you can take to strengthen your likelihood of successfully entering the instructional design field. These opportunities range from personal research to community-based learning!  

Whiteboard on grey-brown wood background, has green and blue dry erase markers on the side. Written on the whiteboard is: “How to start a new career as an instructional designer,” then a checklist that reads: “Take online training/software courses; Create a personal portfolio; Do your research; Go back to school; Join an instructional design community space

Choosing to leave teaching can be an extremely hard decision to make, but many educators are, unfortunately, being driven to make the choice to leave. Whether it be for health reasons, unreasonable expectations, or lack of support, more than half of the profession is considering leaving the classroom early and the role of an instructional designer offers a great way to apply your skills and educate people without having to necessarily start over.  



Ivec, Stephanie. “Why Educators are Becoming Instructional Designers — And How You Can Too.” ELB Learning. 8/16/21. Accessed 2/17/23. 

Morrison, Nick. “One In Four Teachers Works 60-Plus Hours A Week.” Forbes. 2/18/19. Accessed 2/17/23.  

Pappas, Christopher. “7 Steps To Becoming An Instructional Designer.” eLearning Industry. 5/2/14. Accessed 2/17/23. 

Walker, Tim. “Survey: Alarming Number of Educators May Soon Leave the Profession.” NEA News. 2/1/22. Accessed 2/17/23.  

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