• Caitlin Cleghorn

The age of Learning Designers

At the time of posting, there are almost 4000 learning design job advertisements on Seek. Granted, searching with keywords on Seek can be fairly hit or miss, but the point remains – the instructional design industry is booming. It is one of the rare careers impacted positively by COVID-19; online education has transformed and organisations are finally seeing the value of learning design.


 

So, let’s see what’s out there...


A learning designer comes in three levels of knowledge and experience, generally titled:

  1. Assistant Learning Designer

  2. Learning Designer/Instructional Designer*

  3. Senior/Lead Learning Designer.

*Both terms seem to be used interchangeably, though Instructional Designer is seen as the less modern of the two, often focusing largely on face-to-face delivery.


Level 1 generally expects little to no experience in learning design as many of their responsibilities are administrative or supportive. Assistant learning design is great for entry into the industry as it provides an opportunity for workers with different backgrounds. Workers with the following experience would suit this role:


  • project management

  • Learning Management System (LMS) or student administration

  • writer

  • editor

  • teacher

  • literacy specialist

  • developer

  • publisher.

The salary range for an Assistant Learning Designer is $55–95,000 AUD per annum full-time.


Level 2 requires base-level experience in learning design, teaching, or educational resources. What qualifies a learning designer can be as varied as the industry itself – the main reason why you will find a dozen different names for the same position. At its core, a learning designer creates courses and the resources for said courses. This can involve writing, stakeholder management, Subject Matter Expert (SME) collaboration, editing, peer review, project management, product development, quality assurance, and alignment with compliance standards (ASQA for Vocational Education and TEQSA for Higher Education), desktop publishing and assessment creation. Resources often created include:


  • online courses

  • student guide

  • trainer guide

  • mapping documents

  • assessment

  • observation checklist

  • high-level design plan

  • session plan.

The salary range for a Learning Designer is $70–120,000 per annum full-time.


Level 3 requires at least two years of prior experience and usually involves a form of leadership amongst a team. Lead learning designers do more of the project management and high-level design work as well as being the go-to for stakeholders, SMEs and risk management. How much experience equates to a level 3 position is rarely firm. For universities, it often requires three to five years of experience and some leadership experience. For other organisations, particularly outside of education, knowledge and skill take precedence over seniority.


The salary range for a Lead Learning Designer is $103–132,000 per annum full-time.


As well as the increase in the number of positions available, organisations are now investing in learning designers long term. What was previously a short-term contract industry based on project funding, has become a staple of any workplace delivering education courses (even if they are just internal). As a result, jobs advertised are now mainly permanent or ongoing opportunities.




For companies struggling to find suitably qualified learning designers, I would recommend being open with your advertisements. Displaying the salary range you have on offer could entice a lower-paid learning designer to reach out. I also recommend naming the software the learning designer will be using, as there is a lot of educational technology out there, so you need someone with the right skills. For example:


  • project management (SmartSheet, Jira, Trello)

  • LMS (Canvas, Moodle, Totara, SAP Litmos)

  • authoring tool (Articulate Rise or Storyline, Evolve, H5P).


 

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