14 Replies
Nick n/a

In terms of qualifications vs. experience I guess that it varies depends on the demand and if you're looking for full-time employment.

Saying that, you never really stop learning once you leave university or finish your last qualification.

Work continually changes and in order to meet you those changes you have to learn and progress.

It could also depend on the type of background you have. I do have educational qualifications which took time and intensive real-time work to attain. And then meeting fixed standards and gathering enough evidence to show I could meet those standards.

That included lecture time, practical hands on working, assessment but mostly focusing on the throw you in the pool and watch you swim element. Not an easy task.

Taking a qualification in training and development could be seen as an additional on top of relevant experience and the acceptance for continual learning.

To make it short, yes it could be useful and necessary as part of your long-term development.

Are you looking to take any courses or train for any particular certification Jessica?


Jessica Brown

Thanks Nicholas.  So far the courses and certifications from the ASTD are appealing to me.  However, of course, the battle there is whether we can fit it in the budget or not.  I've done really well here flying by the seat of my pants, and now that our team has a definite plan for the future, it's time to start investing in our development.  I have two degrees in IT and communication.  Both were beneficial somewhat in certain elements of my job, but I have no formal training on how to train or develop training.  I have natural talent though  My talents have gotten me to this point, and to get to the next level, I think (and luckily my bosses do too) that it's time for some formal training for me.

Nick n/a

You're lucky to have natural talent then Jessica.

That means you could be excellent with training.

The best advice I can offer was given to me from Eimear O'Neill:

''Robert Mager instructional books (I have the 6 pack) helped me when I first started ID away back in the day as they provide solid ID principles. I dip into them from time to time as they never go out of date! Mager is well recognised within the ID community as a lead on the topic. I don't know any good IDs that haven't read his books. His books are usually on the top ten list of books to read on any reputable ID course. Other great authors are William Horton and Michael Allen.

I came from a Training and Education background and was qualified in that area but when it comes to e-Learning - employers want to know that I studied the ADDIE process, theory and best practices on how to design a course. Facilitating and designing are very different skills.

If you're thinking of getting into ID work then I would recommend signing up to an ID course certificate. I did the Post Grad cert at Uni of Washington - it's remote for one year and well worth it! You need about 20-30 hours aweek for reading, colloborating with other stduents, and classes & meetings in total! Many more great ones out there! Nothing beats a qualification in ID if that is the direction you are aiming for. It shows you are serious about your speciality.''http://www.pce.uw.edu/certificates/elearning-design-development.html

I found her advice really useful personally, and hope it helps you as well Jessica.


Kimberly Valliere

Jessica--I have a Masters degree in training and development, but honestly, what I've benefited from most is experience and learning from coworkers in the field. In terms of e-learning, I had a great opportunity with my previous organization to learn from a talented team of developers. Formal learning is very nice and is a resume builder, but learning from experience is often undervalued. BTW--someone from my former team completed the ASTD e-learning certification shortly after I left because I pushed so hard to get permission for me to complete the certification. He was happy with what he learned.

Bruce Graham

Over on LinkedIn, on the various Instructional Design forums, there are occasional outbreaks of friction between those who insist you must have a Degre/Masters in ID, and those who do not.

A number of factors play to this IMHO:

1. In the US you have ASTD - which in Europe is very limited. We have no equivalent.

2. In the US you have a lot of possible ID qualifications - the term "ID" is really only just beginning to get traction here, and we do not have that many F2F qualifications available.

3. In the US there does seem (to my European eyes...) to be more of a focus on getting qualifications than over here, where whilst it is important, whether you can perform and deliver "under fire" is sometimes just as important.

From my various flutterings around online communities, geographical location is important in answering this question, as is the fact that the term "Instructional Designer" seems to have different meanings depending on whether you are based in US, Europe or Asia. There are many ways to learn ID principles that do not involve several thousand dollars and lessons, but it all depends on what you want to do, and what your peers and competition are doing.

The one thing I personally hate is the perception that those of us without ID degrees etc. are just uneducated hacks, dragging the quality of the emerging ID industry down. That is a perception that is rife around certain parts of the internet, however, in my books, being savvy around business, and being able to talk the language of business success trumps a certificate any day. I may understand ADDIE etc. to the n'th degree, but if I cannot sell, market, talk to the Board in their language etc, know how to talk to user groups, focus groups, sponsors and accountants - constantly talking the language of business rather than "training", then I will not make a very good ID.

Just my 2p worth.

Brent deMoville

Bruce nailed it.  The degrees and certifications don't matter--the work matters.  If you are an avid learner who looks at other's work and learns why some of it appeals and some doesn't, then you will quickly develop the necessary skills for good work.  I am a Senior Director in Human Resources and when I hire someone to do this work I am more interested in examples of their work and their ability to walk me through their experience in managing a design project.  How to they work within a limited budget?  How do they get recalcitrant SME's to cooperate?  Do they look at ID from the learner's perspective and the business's objective?  Are they able to dig out the true business objective--it often isn't what is stated?

ASTD is a great organization, but I have learned as much from these forums and the wonderful designers who populate them.

Kimberly Valliere

Bruce--looks like she is US based. And you are definitely correct, US companies love to see formal education on a resume. The only advantage I personally think I've gained from having a formal degree is that gets my resume tends to get a second look. My body of work still has to stand for something, at least in the jobs I've held. Now, without my degree, my resume may have gone to the bottom of the pile until I could show the T&D/ID experience that I'm finally starting to develop.

Nick n/a

I have the view that I'll need to learn a few thousand things.

I have a 'virtual library' with around 800 different topics such as HR, Business, Design, HPT, eLearning, Freelancing, Gamification, Memory, ROI, etc. However, I find I do need to add more folders as I learn more.

But I always keep the focus in mind on ID or training.

There are a large number of free resources that are great to reference and understand any particular point. But maybe 10% of that is useful and can be applied to a particular situation.

One example would be this forum. If you have the links you can re-read the points.

Taking some courses such as Human-Computer Interaction on coursera https://www.coursera.org/#course/hci can be useful but needing to understand the role of HR or a Needs Analysis and then apply that is hard to remember.

I've found from previous qualifications that you'll still have gaps in your knowledge and experience.

By having a virtual library with some written texts I can address those gaps that a course may not address.

This is where looking at the course structure of a university comes in useful.

The rest is real world experience and working with others.

Just a thought.


Pedro Fernandez

Jessica (and all),

This is my opinion and only my opinion.

So... let me begin by saying that, while I respect someone for getting a degree or certification in a particular subject, especially Instructional Design, the US market (and I can only speak for the US market) is very fragmented when it comes to deciding on where this whole "instructional design stuff" fits. Warning: those that are easily offended may want to look away.

You have the educational (pure) versus the corporate (not so pure), the performance-centric, the technologists, the analysts, etc., etc., etc.

From personal experience it boils down to:

  • Can you design a course for the top 3 environments? (instructor led, self-paced, blended; the actual mechanism for delivering these varies but you get the point)
  • Can you use more than one authoring tool to deliver all the necessary materials for the job/contract/project?
  • Can you run a project on your own and work within a team and change speed (and lanes) on the fly without breaking in to hives when the customer asks you to completely change the output even though everyone signed a document agreeing on the parameters of the project and you only have three days until your deadline and you are dealing with a massive head cold and your dog decided that now was the best time chew up all of your best shoes?
  • Do you have an extensive portfolio that can wow me like a shiny new car or piece of jewelry, thus distracting me from what's important and completely throwing out the notion of caring about your qualifications in the slightest? (Oh and can I have those? I promise I won't show them to anyone or steal them after not hiring you. No, really I promise!)

OK, so obviously I am trying to be funny but essentially it comes down to those that are just dripping talent and experience and portfolio samples (like many of the good folks in these forums by the way) and those that have degrees and talent and maybe are light on portfolio samples.

If you are going to be an contributor, you can be successful without a degree but you need the talent, experience and portfolio. If you are going to be part of leadership (and I personally believe that anyone who has an account management or project management role is in a leadership role), then a degree is a must. Having all of those other things will only make you more appealing to a potential employer or customer. Having Mad Skillz also helps.

Ok, off my soap box.

Jessica Brown

Wow!  Thank you so much EVERYONE!    Let me tell you, at the beginning of December, I knew absolutely nothing about e-learning or Storyline, and everything I knew about ID I just absorbed from experience.  Through all the wonderful tutorials on this site, and all the wonderful people on these forums, I have learned SO much in 6 weeks and have been able to produce some pretty impressive content--well, at least we think it's impressive lol.  I think because this subject is so very interesting to me, I'll always be one to look for information and resources myself.  But, seeing as how the head honchos want to spend some money on me...why not?

@Nicholas, thanks for all the advice!  I'll definitely reach out to people more often.  I think I'll add you all to my friends list :-)

@Kimberly, thank you as well.  I feel the same way.  If I do end up getting certified, it will probably just end up being a resume booster.  I'm trying to find the time to put together some content I can use for a portfolio so I can show what I can do.

@Bruce, I'm with you man!

@Brent, thanks for your input from a different perspective.  Good to know I'm basically on the right track.

@Pedro, LOL, thanks for the humor and the insight!

My role is a bit weird because I am ID, SME, technical authoring, and training all in one!  In a way that's probably a good thing because in the end I'll know a lot about many things; But, of course, right now it can be a bit hectic.  I'm down for the challenge though :-)