Managing Career Transitions into post-secondary Learning Designer Jobs – A Teaser

by Jack Sage (James Cook University) and Michael Sankey (Charles Darwin University)

Anticipated growth

Australian Government Labour Market Information projects a 12.9% increase in job openings for the broad category of Multimedia Designers between 2020-2025 (Labour Market Information Portal Website, 2020). Unfortunately, more granular data on Instructional Designers (ID), or Learning/Educational Designers (LD/ED) is not publicly available. The Seek Career Advice portal quotes the above “job growth 12.9%” under the banner Instructional Designer (, 2021), which is somewhat misleading. However, it is not unreasonable to anticipate some growth in HE LD/ED jobs given the Minister Tudge’s ambitious plans of expanding Australian Higher Education to 10 million students outside Australia by 2030 (Tudge, 2021); ongoing re-conceptualisation of teaching and learning (Alexander et al. 2021); and progressing casualisation of the academic workforce.

Seek Career Advice offers some information on careers in ID and lists a few AQF Level 4 and 5 qualifications as a pathway to become an ID, though is silent about the specialist LD/ED qualifications (e.g. Graduate Certificate in Learning Design or similar offered currently by UNE, QUT Online, UTS, Monash and VU) instead listing generic “Bachelor of Arts”.

Mapping the organic careers in Learning Design to facilitate better transitions

A casual review of some 100 Higher Education LD/ED LinkedIn profiles led us to the hypothesis that career paths do not follow a clear pattern. To understand this more we devised an online survey. We also put ourselves in the shoes of a regular job seeker, searching for information on the topic from Australian/NZ sources. Though we found several valuable contributions, we could not find much advice on how to plan a career transition into LD/ED. Thus, several questions in the survey were designed to elicit respondents’ perceptions of this.

The survey covered demographics, serendipity or otherwise of transitioning into LD/ED roles, length of experience in LD roles, educational experience prior to assuming an LD/ED role, relevant LD/ED qualifications, decisive factors in winning that first LD/ED role, how previous roles outside of LD/ED had prepared them for LD/ED roles and what pre-LD/ED actions were a “deal breaker” in securing that first LD/ED role. Other questions covered advice to aspiring LD/EDs and what contributors wish they had known when they were making the transition.

The questionnaire was administered online, with participants from ASCILITE and other networks, yielding 92 responses (approximately 5 to 10% of the post-secondary LD/ED profession in Australia/NZ).

As the results will be discussed at length in the TELedvisor SIG Webinar (Sage & Sankey 2021b) and in the ASCILITE Conference proceedings and presentation (Sage & Sankey 2021a), the following provides some highlights for you in the meantime:

  • Most (70%) of LD/EDs have been in their roles for <10 years, while many have been involved in education and training in some form for 3-10 years (43.5%) or more (43.5%). This indicates the relevance of ‘experience’ in teaching or training, and that an LD/ED with no teaching experience is less likely to understand the challenges faced by Faculty or have the gravitas needed to provide advice.
  • The most common backgrounds leading up to assuming LD/ED roles can be summarised in the following infographic:
Fig 1. Pathways to Learning Design positions.
  • Many respondents stress the importance of documenting their LD/ED experience in a portfolio for the purpose of winning an LD/ED role.
  • Some expressed regret that they did not find their LD/ED roles earlier. Indicating a lack of available and actionable career information and advice. Some of this is addressed in sources such as the abovementioned Seek Career Advice article. And our subsequent conference paper offers several recommendations to address this issue more comprehensively.

Please share with us your questions and thoughts in the comments section below and indicate your interest with a star rating.


Alexander, S., O’Shea, S., O’Donnell, M., Male, S., & Wong, W. Y. (Amy). (2021). Is the Lecture Dead? Edu Research Matters Blog.

Occupation Projections Five Years to November 2025. (2020). Labour Market Information Portal Website.

Seek Career Advice: Instructional Designer. (2021). Seek.Com.Au. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from

Sage. J, Sankey. M. (2021a). Managing Career Transitions into post-secondary Learning Designer Jobs: An Australasian Perspective. ASCILITE 2021 Conference Proceedings (in print).

Sage J., Sankey M. (2021b). Pathways to Learning Design (and more) – skill or luck? A TELedvisor SIG Webinar

Tudge, A. (2021). Our priorities for strengthening Australia’s universities. In Minister’s Media Centre, Department of Education, Skills and Employment Website.


4.8 6 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Hari thiruvanam
2 years ago

Very interesting area to explore. To me, I am faced with volunteers and recommendations by the candidate’s immediate supervisors. In my view, they do not even understand the basic principles of instructional design, student motivation and engagement and measuring the effectiveness. Are there any criteria or checklist that could be helpful?

Jack Sage
Jack Sage
2 years ago
Tom Worthington
2 years ago

Not a case of “Those who can’t do teach, and those who can’t teach become learning designers”? 😉

More seriously, isn’t teaching experience required as part of enrollment in learning design programs? To study digital education as a graduate student I had to already be teaching.

Michael Sankey
2 years ago

Yer, but no, I think is the answer Tom. The majority of those who enter this profession have MEd or formal Teaching Qualification (BEd, Grad Dip etc), but certainly not all. Of course, to get into those programs, presumably there is some experience needed. I suppose the same could be said for those teaching in the disciplines who also do not have any teaching qualifications, yet are required to teach (usually the in the way they were taught). I think there is generally a lack of guidelines and standards in relation to this in the sector.