Do I need a certification to become an elearning designer?

Hi Everyone! I'd love to get your advice on next steps as I try to pivot into this world of Instructional Design/E-learning. I have a background in education, with a PhD in Curriculum Design and about 15 years of teaching and course design at the college level (fully online, blended, f2f). But, I've never actually been a designer; I've been the SME. So I'm just learning the "techie" side of things. But I think I'm pretty good with the theory, can write a learning objective, I have taught assessment to people becoming teachers, so I have that figured out, etc.

I'm trying to decide if I should get a certificate to show that I actually now have the tech "creds"? Or can I just keep downloading trials of software and learning it that way? So far, no one has been willing to hire me as an ID or designer because I don't have any actual experience doing it. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

8 Replies
Jackie Van Nice

Hi Shannon!  

You don't need a particular certification to get hired - unless the company has that stipulation, and then I assume they'd put it in their job listing.

I was in a similar position before getting into elearning  - having the academic/teaching/training background and no elearning chops - but that was pretty easy to turn around with a mountain of motivation and a whole lot of elbow grease.

Above all you need samples of your elearning work. Your fabulous portfolio will win the day every time. By far the easiest way to fill your portfolio is by participating in the ELH Challenges each week. I think I've done 109 of them, and they all reside in the portfolio section of my site - but I assure you that even an excellent handful (especially if explicated) may do. This will also give you the perfect opportunity to learn Storyline in a meaningful way.

I did grab two ATD elearning certificates early in my pivot that were enooooooormously helpful for getting me up to speed - but I don't think anyone would care about those. They were just for me.

As for breaking in, I used a crafty method whereby I leveraged an internship opportunity to make it happen (it was the long way, but worked out extremely well) - and I also simply approached large nonprofits to offer my pro bono services to get more experience, portfolio pieces, and connections. That worked well too. So well that I never even got to do anything pro bono because they simply hired me as a vendor rather than a volunteer. 

I hope that helps a bit, Shannon. Best of luck to you!

Christy Tucker

The best way to show that you know what you're doing in lieu of experience is with a portfolio, like Jackie mentioned.

There are a few other ways to get experience in addition to going to nonprofits, although Jackie's suggestions are great.

Designers for Learning started a free "service learning" class on 2/22. See if you can still enroll a little late and join. This is a course where you learn some ID skill (or in your case, maybe fill in some gaps for what you already know) and create new content with mentors to help guide you.

KeelWorks has free, part-time unpaid internships you can do from anywhere. That's another place to get a little hands-on work on a real project.

Alexander Salas

Hi Shannon, 

I welcome you to check out the Articulate YouTube videos, this community and my channel + blog 

Also, connect with me on LinkedIn or reach out by Twitter @stylelearn if you need any tips  ;   )

Welcome to the best elearning community evah!