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Instructional Designer Salary: Are You Earning What You Should?

Instructional designer salaries vary depending on location, experience, education, and industry. But are you earning what you should?

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An instructional designer creates effective learning experiences by blending curriculum design, technology, and pedagogical expertise. The role is demanding, yet vital for enhancing education and training outcomes. That’s why instructional designer salaries are generally hefty.

Instructional designer salaries often reflect the effort that goes into the role. Beginner salaries start from five figures, and experienced individuals can sometimes achieve a six-figure salary.

However, these figures can vary significantly based on the market benchmarks that each country has, as well as factors such as industry demand, company size, and individual qualifications. This is why we’ll be going over some key factors to ensure you earn what you deserve. Let’s get started.

Understanding the Role of an Instructional Designer

Instructional designers wear many hats throughout their careers. And unless you’re willing to jump through most of these hoops, you might not be able to increase your instructional designer salary. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re one year into your career or a senior at a reliable company. Understanding the role of an instructional designer is the key to performing better. The more you understand what’s expected of you, the faster you’ll rise to the occasion. 

Below are five key responsibilities you’ll take on as an instructional designer:

Engineering 

Instructional designers, like engineers, tackle problem-solving in design using research-derived learning models. The role prioritizes usability and engages in pivotal design facets.

These facets include research-based, pedagogically-sound instructional material development; application of educational theory, and technical feature integration for functional products.

Manufacturing 

In the instructional design process, while engineering offers insights, materials are predominantly crafted by manufacturing. 

Prepare to use predefined templates for efficient problem-solving and be wary of material quantity or relying on swift and effective production formulas. To overcome issues, focus on creating functional and expected content.

Becoming a Craftsperson

The instructional designer also adds value to the team by turning plans into reality with expert craftsmanship. 

Unlike traditional roles, this role focuses on execution. So you must prioritize quality over speed and pay attention to both technical and aesthetic aspects of the product. Most importantly, you should drive true innovation in teaching and learning.

Acting as an Architect 

Sometimes you’ve to act like an architect and employ a holistic approach to the design process. As the architect of your design, you’ll have to keep up with software and research. Because this role expects you to solve problems innovatively, you’ll be expected to focus on understanding the learners’ challenges.

As such, you’ll constantly analyze crowds, responses, and learning outcomes.  

Being the Artist

Ultimately, you must uncover your inner artist and rely on imaginative insights. To be a successful designer, you have to think like an artist and explore unconventional ideas. Don't be afraid to deviate from norms, and remember that an artist embraces experimentation, unexpected outcomes, and failure.

Being an artist elevates the work you’ve done as a craftsperson by conceiving and evolving fresh concepts. It also helps you avoid ordinary, externally replicated designs.

All in all, an instructional designer significantly boosts engagement and retention through thoughtfully crafted content, interactive strategies, and tailored assessments.

Factors Influencing Instructional Designer Salaries

When you start paying attention to instructional designer salaries you might notice a difference between yourself and peers. For one, people you work with could be earning more. On the other hand, individuals you know through other mediums might have smaller instructional designer salaries than average.

This begs the question: what factors influence an instructional designer's salary? Well, here’s the answer!

Education and Experience

Educational qualifications such as advanced degrees and relevant certifications often correlate with increased salary potential. The higher your educational level goes, the higher your chances will be with reputable companies. 

That’s why fields like instructional design value education above almost everything. And if you’re hoping for a high instructional designer salary, then prioritizing education should be your first move.

It’s never too late to get a PhD, or pursue further education, even if you’ve been out of college. While work schedules could present some time constraints, there you can work around your daily life by taking design courses

But if you’re certain that you’re done with school, you can take the alternate route and focus on experience. Accumulated years of experience in a field generally lead to enhanced expertise and responsibilities, resulting in higher pay as well.

Industry and Sector

Instructional designer salaries can vary across industries. Depending on the industry, you can expect to receive a different salary than people who share your line of work.  

For example, corporate training, higher education, and e-learning platforms all offer distinctive instructional designer salaries. However, some fields offer a more competitive instructional designer salary than others. 

This is highly based on service demand and the complexity of projects. If customers are focusing on a certain type of education, working on similar projects can result in higher instructional designer salaries.

All you have to do is conduct some competitor research and see how others in your position are being compensated. From that point onwards, you can begin to compare your instructional designer salary to similar ones. And if you’re not happy with what you earn, you can always switch gears.

Geographic Location

Instructional designer salaries are influenced by location due to factors like cost of living, regional demand, and job market dynamics. Cities like San Francisco, New York, and Seattle offer higher instructional designer salaries due to competitive markets and higher costs.

But you don’t need to live in these areas to receive a competitive instructional designer salary. No matter where you’re based, you could work for companies in these prominent areas remotely. 

Since the pandemic, most companies have been offering hybrid and fully remote positions that you can benefit from. So long as you have the right skill set and experience, the location shouldn’t be too much of an issue. 

However, we should emphasize that taking up a remote position often indicates adapting to a timezone outside of yours. As such, it’s always a good idea to check with the employer to see what your hours will be like. After all, a good salary shouldn’t come at the cost of your health.

Company Size and Type

Organizational size and type significantly impact salary packages for instructional designers. Startups may offer equity-based compensation, while established companies provide stable salaries. Non-profits often offer competitive benefits with a focus on social impact.

Of course, this all comes down to what you want for your career. But from a compensation-based perspective, larger organizations often offer extensive additional benefits beyond base salaries. These may encompass health insurance, retirement plans, professional development opportunities, bonuses, and wellness programs.

In short, the instructional designer's salary largely depends on your work environment among other things.

Instructional Designer Salary Ranges and Averages 

Understanding the average instructional designer salary requires a breakdown of typical pay ranges for instructional designers at various career stages.

Have a look at the below statistics to get a better understanding of the instructional designer salary averages. We’ve gathered some data based on experience, location, and employment type.

According to Glassdoor, the Instructional designer salary in New York has an average base pay of $95,110 per annum. There’s also an additional cash compensation between US$5,630 - US$17,762 — depending on your education, position, or company.

That said, average salaries in Canada start from $78,851 CAD while the UK offers £38,426 GBP per annum.

Finally, the Australian instructional designer's salary is averaging at $97,313 AUD.

Of course, this is all assuming that you work for a boss. Because working freelance, or in your own company, can alter your figures. 

If you’re self-employed, you can expect to earn around $83,942.

Such is the comparison between different kinds of instructional design positions. But what if you’re considering a career change? Would other related professions get you better pay? Let’s find out.

Instructional Designer Salary

Instructional Designer Salary vs. Similar Careers 

The University of San Diego has a comprehensive list  for comparing the instructional designer salary with similar fields.

According to the list, the median instructional designer salary is around $71,081. And other  positions in the educational work field have the below pay averages:

  • Corporate Trainer – $46,901
  • Distance Learning Specialist – $56,963
  • Instructional Technologist – $61,592
  • Training and Development Specialist – $62,700
  • eLearning Developer – $68,391
  • Learning Consultant – $69,556 
  • Training and Development Manager – $79,122
  • Director of eLearning Development – $85,647
  • Director of Instructional Design – $113,398

These ranges can help you decide whether you want to switch gears. Either way, it might be beneficial to learn how you can negotiate a well-deserved salary. 

Negotiating Your Instructional Designer Salary

If you want a competitive instructional designer salary, you have to negotiate for it. After all, an employer won’t know your worth unless you show them. 

A few factors that contribute to negotiating your instructional designer salary are:

  •  Researching industry standards and company salary ranges: knowing what you’re in for can protect you from accepting lower instructional designer salaries.
  •  Highlighting your unique skills and accomplishments: Presenting yourself in a positive light can help potential employers see you as an asset.
  •  Demonstrating the value of effective instructional design to the organization: Highlighting how you can provide improvements to the existing strategy increases your chances of being hired.
  • Being prepared for negotiations and considering benefits beyond just monetary compensation: Sometimes, the main salary isn’t everything. Consider adding healthcare benefits and other possible perks into your negotiation to cut back from daily living costs.

Skills That Lead to a Higher Instructional Designer Salary

Instructional Designer Salary

Now that we’ve covered the basics for identifying your rightful instructional designer salary and negotiating for it, let’s aim higher. 

Just because your instructional designer salary is within one range right now doesn’t mean it won’t increase. But in the world of business, there are two main ways of getting that raise:

  • Being with a company for long 
  • Displaying profitable skills

Depending on where you are in your career, both of these factors can be applicable. And while we cannot guarantee how long you’ll stay with a company, we can help you get those profitable skills. If you want a better instructional designer salary, here are some traits you should consider working on.

Soft Skills 

  • Project management 
  • Community management 
  • Teamwork
  • Communication 
  • Problem solving
  • Creativity 
  • Time management 
  • Writing

Technical Skills

  • Course building
  • Web design
  • Proficiency in content management systems
  • Proficiency in learning management systems 
  • Video/audio editing
  • Following design principles

A combination of soft and technical skills, you should be well on your way to a performance-based raise.

Conclusion

As we've explored the various aspects of instructional designer salaries, it's evident that this is a profession that demands a blend of technical proficiency, creativity, and effective communication skills. The diverse toolkit an instructional designer wields, coupled with the balance between soft and technical skills, underscores the complexity of the role.

As we reflect on the intricate world of instructional design, it's worth noting that having the right tools can significantly impact an instructional designer's efficiency and success. Teachfloor emerges as one such invaluable resource in this domain. With its comprehensive set of features designed to streamline course creation, enhance collaboration, and engage learners, Teachfloor undoubtedly stands out as an essential asset for instructional designers.

In conclusion, assessing your instructional designer salary is a prudent step in nurturing your career's growth. By aligning your earnings with industry standards and your personal capabilities, and by leveraging tools like Teachfloor to maximize your potential, you can elevate both your professional standing and financial rewards.

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