How Did You Get Your Start

I'm curious how the members of this community got their start in E-Learning as a career.  Did you go the route of freelancer or employee at a company?  What landed you your first gig or job?  

Working a full-time job can make it difficult to transition into a new career.  Hearing how others made it can be inspiring.  


25 Replies
Mark Chipp

How's this for newer? I'm a programming student on the cusp of graduation, and I'm doing my final co-op placement (right now!) in a learning support centre for the government. I never even considered that this was a job, let alone one I could/would pursue. I'm only a few weeks in, but I am very strongly considering taking this as my bridging option. Federal co-ops can "bridge" into a full time job after graduation doing whatever we did as students, as soon as said job opens.

This is probably not the most standard way into a career, unless you're a student, but one I felt might be of interest nonetheless.

Nick Smith

Accidentally, kind of fell into it. Actually job a job handling the entire LMS and e-learning concept for a global corporation a few years back with a little bit of previous experience. Now working in another global corporation and handling all their e-learning creation along with implementation of LMS and other integration projects. E-learning is rewarding and a fun area.

Marianne Green

I started as a secretary, took a 1 year contract to be a classroom trainer within the NHS. Once that contract ended I took another job as a Trainer but I've found it's mainly e-learning rather than classroom training. I've been using Articulate for 10 months, I mostly re-build courses rather than making any from scratch. I have started to build courses based on some of the challenges that appear every week.

Danielle Barnetche

I'm not surprised to hear about so many e-learning professionals that 'fell' into the field.  Over the years I've hired and trained many learning designers / producers and I've seen them all fall in love with designing learning materials and courses.  

I pursued the career from a digital production point of view.  I wanted to be in e-learning since repeatedly losing ox in the Oregon Trail.  I got a degree in multimedia technology and design and then landed a job as a producer creating learning materials.  

Kara Tharpe

I was in a processing/ops role within my company for just over 5 years. An e-learning role within my department (supporting a training group of about 20 and an area of about 500 individuals) came up and I decided to interview for it on a bit of a whim. I didn't have a lot of experience in e-learning specifically. I had some Flash experience, some secondary education experience, and took a couple Dreamweaver courses during college as a Communications/Media major. However, my biggest asset was my film minor from undergrad which had exposed me to hundreds of hours of film and sound editing.

Just started a month ago so needless to say I've been LIVING on this site.

Katie L.

Very interesting question.  My degree is in Education but was on a non-teaching credentialed path (most with this degree go on to work in Extension, 4-H, non-profits, etc.).  I went to college in the mid-90s so technology was just starting to be integrated with education--I took a course called "Technology in Education" and it was basically a semester-long tutorial on PowerPoint.  Anyway, after college I had a couple of different education-related jobs before I heard from a friend of a friend about a local company developing an eLearning library for the business/professional market.  Like a previous poster, it never occurred to me that this was a career.  I applied, got an interview, did a test assignment, got hired, and absolutely loved the job for the 2 years I was there.  The company was bought, our jobs moved overseas, and I was sad to see my job go--and frustrated that there weren't any similar companies in my area, which meant I needed to do something else or relocate (again, telecommuting wasn't as prominent in the early 2000s).  I found a job in another field but also started doing some freelance work as a contractor for my old company.  With the help of freelance sites (mainly eLance), I was able to keep myself in a steady stream of side work until I lost my primary job in 2015 and decided to fully hang out my shingle.  Now I provide custom eLearning design and development to many different industries around the globe, and I love it.  Being a business owner is scary sometimes, especially since my business is still in its infancy (although I'd say we are quickly approaching toddlerhood), but I love what I do!

Joseph Ferraro

I have a background in multimedia design, sound design, and audio engineering, but what actually got me started was when I moved into a Technical Support Supervisor role. A big part of that was dedicated to both onboarding and ongoing training for our Technical Support agents. Building ILT courses and modules eventually led to some great career change opportunities to expand to self-paced learning and before long, there was a desire for rich and exciting eLearning.

The moment I had a chance to dig into what was possible in SL2, I knew it was the best eLearning tool for education and conceptual storytelling out there. I knew I wanted to do as much as I could with it: gamify content, explore the animation possibilities, dive deep into the triggers and states. Even when I feel like I've found the extent of its limitations, I know there's more to learn. These forums have been an excellent resource for just that! Next up is brushing up on JavaScript and learning how to leverage that with Storyline. REALLY excited for SL3. :)

Tiffany Motton

I have a degree in psychology, and have previous experiences in learning & development, one in a non-profit organisation where I organised workshops for other l&d professionals, and another in a bank where there was a more strategic focus on learning. 

I've recently started in a small consultancy bureau offering learning technology to organisations such as e-learnings. 

I've also been thrown in to storyline but I've found it very intuitive software. It's easy to get the hang of it, at least for the basics. However, now I've been given some more advanced projects and these do seem to provide a real challenge for me as a storyline newbie! 

I have to say though, having such an amazing community nearby is incredibly supporting, and unline any software community I've ever seen so thank you all :-) 

Katharina Ries

I´m pretty new to the eLearning topic, too. In my case, I´d say it was actually kinda planned to work in this field. I have a degree in media and communications. Through that I got in touch with Instructional Design and eLearning and found it to be super interesting. A company in my area was hiring students for a couple of hours of eLearning creation and tending to the LMS a week. I had just finished my degree and was looking for a full time job, when the holder of the eLearning full time position decided it was a good time for her to move to Australia. So I was offered the job since I already knew the ropes.

Mark Shepherd

Hi Chris:

I've posted about this in another thread, but like many who have ventured into this field, I come from a Computer Training background as a Microsoft Office and Technical Trainer/Instructor for many years. 

Around 2009-2010, I saw the e-Learning writing on the wall and wanted very much to get into it. 

Fast-forward to late 2015, when I landed my current eLearning Developer position at the Canadian Department of National Defence.  I've been in this role for the past 18 months now, and I love every minute of it.  :)

In those 5-6 years of attempts at landing this kind of position, I learned and worked on contracts involving Technical Writing, Multimedia and Webinar development, as well as Translation, which I'm sure the combined total skill set is what allowed me to break in and succeed in eLD.

I am particularly fortunate that I am able to use Storyline as the foundation of my work. 

So you could say I got lucky, but it took me some time to get here, and I appreciate that.

The short take on my Key eLD Skills:

  • Education Development (Training, Consulting, MS Office, Softskills, Project Mgmt)
  • Technical (IT, Windows, Unix, Apple iOS, Programming: Web/JavaScript, SharePoint)
  • Software Fluency (Adobe Captivate, Camtasia Studio, Articulate Storyline)
  • Multimedia (Audio/Video Editing, Audacity, Premiere, Webinar Development)
  • Multilingual Support (Translation)

I've always been strong on the first 3 items, but it was the recent addition of the last two that did the trick.  As always, depending on the role/position, your mileage may vary. ;)

Katie Farron

I was actually doing procurement for my company for about two years, but expressed an interest in helping train the new hires. They eventually transitioned me into helping with that in a classroom setting (which I loved) but moved me to a new statement of work in another building. All the while, HR knew I had a real desire to train, so as soon as they were able to explain that they needed an actual corporate trainer, they pulled me out and basically created the position for me. :) We were using an LMS with some included content, but I wanted to customize it, so I decided to try learning how to create my own courses - and here we are! 

Jenna Genson

I recently joined the instructional design industry, and by recently I mean - I'm ending week 3 on the job. My new/current position is with a non-profit building e-courses for certification through Storyline as well as managing content/manuals for classroom based instruction. My background is in agricultural education. I got a BS and MS in that field, served as a high school teacher and then as a program specialist for a national non-profit. Because of some life circumstances, I was looking to relocate which required me to find a new position. Since the opportunities were limited in agricultural education, I was looking for a position that would allow me to learn new things and make myself more marketable outside of agriculture education. It was tough to find a company/organization who would take a chance on me, but I'm thrilled to have accepted the position I did. I've learned so much already and recognize that there is so much more for me to absorb. I find my previous experiences coming into play a lot, which has been great. The hunt is stressful, but the right thing will come along. Be positive and persistent. =)

Amy Conner

All of these stories are really interesting.  I am a nurse educator, just bought this software at our company and am learning how to use it.  I kinda fell into this as well.  I love it so far.  I had also done some digital scrapbooking!  Very similiar.  I love the creative side of things, and not just the teaching part.

Eric Nalian

Hey Chris,

When I started off college, i originally wanted to be a math and science teacher. At the time, the economy wasn't very friendly towards teachers and I didn't want to get laid off every 10-months waiting to find a school/district I could get tenure in.  Knowing I still wanted to teach, I worked with the schools adviser we routed my major towards HR with a minor in Training and Development.

Fast forward a few years, when it was time to get an internship, I made sure I landed on one that would focus more on training and development. Fast forward a few more years and i got my first full time job during grad school.  At this company, I got to slowly build the L&D team up from a team of 2, to a team of 15.  With that growth, I got to build up the full curriculum of eLearning courses and all other types of training.