Job Analysis

Educational Technology

This post is made in conjunction with Dr. Rick West’s Foundations of Instructional Design course at Brigham Young University.

I entered my graduate program with the hopes that it would give me a better job, but attempting to determine what that job will be in 3-4 years from now is a difficult task, albeit a useful one.  This is an exercise which I would do with my students quite often.  I would have them look through job postings to determine what kind of pay they would likely be receiving in their future career, as well as to glean information regarding what skills they would need as a part of that job.  They could then start developing those skills, even if the skill wasn’t something that they were likely to learn in one of their courses.  By doing this exercise, we hoped to overcome what we called “The Graduate’s Paradox”, namely, that it is difficult for a recent grad to get an entry-level job, when those jobs are looking for 2-3 years experience.  By looking for ways to gain experience while in school, the student could be more prepared for those entry-level jobs.

So I am endeavoring to do the same exercise (and like my students, for a class assignment).  I will look at 5 potential jobs: Their salaries, working conditions, and skills needed for the job.  While I don’t have a clear idea right now of what I want to do for a future career, hopefully this exercise will help me get a clearer idea of where I want to go, and what skills I need for such a position.


Job #1:  Assistant Professor Learning Technologies – University of Colorado Denver

Salary: Not listed on job posting, but a search here indicates that it’s probably about 60-80K
Major Duties: Teaching classes in undergraduate and graduate programs; research; advising; c0-author grant proposals
Skills Desired: knowledge of open education; digital storytelling; background in situated learning and activity theory; doctoral degree; experience with design based research
Thoughts: This looks like an interesting job, and one that seems to be very much in line with my philosophy of teaching.  It sounds like the program may be geared more toward the learning sciences and design based research, so I would probably need to do a few projects that are in that vein to be a candidate for this position.

Job #2:  Learning and Development Consultant – Microsoft
Salary: Not listed, but I know that Microsoft benefits are amazing
Major Duties: This particular project is around the Yammer product, and would involve developing learning solutions
Skills Desired: Knowledge of instructional design and HPT; 4 years experience in business related instructional design; program management skills; ability to present to large groups.
Thoughts:   While this job doesn’t specifically require specific software skills, it appears that they are looking for some instructional design experience in a corporate environment.   If I wanted a job like this, I would probably need to get an internship or a part-time job doing training for a larger company.  Having worked previously for a vendor for Microsoft, I know that knowledge of basic business practices is very helpful.

Job #3:  Instructional Designer – Amazon
Salary: Not listed
Major Duties:
 Educate product teams on new procedures and policies; Perform design projects to determine needs in training; design training using online, blended and face-to-face modalities.
Skills Desired:  3 years experience in instructional design; knowledge of Captivate, Articulate, and Adobe Photoshop; Project Management skills: Experience using a LMS to deliver content.
Thoughts:  I’m definitely drawn to Amazon because of its location in Seattle.  Not sure if I could totally swing a corporate environment like this, but I think I would be interested in trying.  It would also be interesting to see how much of my experience in higher ed would transfer over to Amazon.  This job really emphasizes that I need to have a good foundation in Adobe design and eLearning tools to get a job in a corporate training setting.

Job #4:  Education & Training Specialist – Central Intelligence Agency
Salary: 63-97K
Major Duties: Creating and managing a curriculum on an LMS for CIA University
Skills Desired: Degree in Instructional Technology;  Experience in adult education; Experience designing in rapid prototyping type environment; Desire to experiment with new learning techniques and technologies.
Thoughts:  This job looks really appealing to me, especially after hearing that Richard Culatta had taken a similar job.  I like the idea of taking my experience in the classroom and transposing it into a new environment. There is a 5-year minimum contract however, which seems like a big commitment, especially coming right out of graduate school.

Job #5: Director, MOOC Development – MIT
Salary:  Not listed
Major Duties: Lead a group of faculty that is developing courses for MITx; Ensure that courses are being built using instructional design standards.
Skills Desired: Graduate degree; Strong background in project management; experience with online education; knowledge of usability and accessibility protocols; organization skills; written communication skills.
Seems like a really cool project that is on the bleeding edge of education.  I don’t know if I would quite be there in terms of experience (they are looking for 10 years of experience), but it would definitely be cool to keep looking in this realm in the next few years. It will be interesting to see how the market develops in terms of MOOCs and other open learning platforms.


I don’t know if this analysis has left me with any clear takeaways.  In the process, however, I think that I have gleaned several important bits of information:

  1. There are many directions that a career in instructional design can take you
  2. I don’t quite know what I want to do with the rest of my life
  3. But I’m excited about the possibilities

The possibilities were the reason that I chose to divert my career into educational technology.  I saw my current field (video and film education) as something that was limiting in its possibilities (partly because of the rise of informal learning around the topic).  I saw more possibilities for the future in instructional design and online learning.  Going through this process has solidified that idea that the field is filled with promise, and also suggested that I need to do a bit of focusing.  I think that focusing will be a challenge, because I will want to taste the range that the field has to offer, so I think that I must be strategic in how I dip from that range.

Some skills that I have seen as being valuable from this exercise are a mix of hard and soft skills.  The hard skills that I want to pick up include skills in design software (Photoshop, Illustrator) and eLearning software (Captivate, Articulate, LMS, programming).  I hope to gain these skills through internships and classes that I will take in the IPT program.  The soft skills are mostly management skills: project management. communication, and writing skills.  While I am sure that I will be exposed to opportunities to learn these things during my coursework, I also know that I must make a concerted personal effort to develop and improve in these abilities.