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Instructional Technologist vs. Instructional Designer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

If you’re interested in a career in education and technology, you may be wondering what the difference is between an instructional technologist and an instructional designer. Both roles work with technology and education, but they have different focuses. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between instructional technologists and instructional designers, and we’ll provide some tips on how to choose the right career for you.

What is an Instructional Technologist?

Instructional Technologists are responsible for designing, developing and implementing technology-based instructional materials and activities. They work with educators to identify the best technology solutions for specific learning goals. They also provide training and support to educators on how to use instructional technology tools. Instructional Technologists typically have a background in education, instructional design or a related field. They use their knowledge of instructional design principles and technology to create effective learning experiences.

What is an Instructional Designer?

Instructional Designers create educational materials and design instructional approaches for both traditional and online classrooms. They analyze learning needs and objectives to develop appropriate instructional solutions. This can include creating course materials, designing learning activities, developing assessment tools and selecting appropriate instructional delivery methods. Instructional Designers also collaborate with subject matter experts and other stakeholders to ensure that the instructional materials are accurate and effective. They often use learning management systems to track student progress and assess the effectiveness of the instructional materials.

Instructional Technologist vs. Instructional Designer

Here are the main differences between an instructional technologist and an instructional designer.

Job Duties

Instructional technologists perform many of the same tasks as instructional designers, but their job duties can vary depending on their employer and the needs of their students. For example, an instructional technologist may create a lesson plan for a class, but an instructional designer may develop a course curriculum. Similarly, an instructional technologist may conduct usability testing, while an instructional designer may create digital learning resources. Instructional technologists may also have different job responsibilities at different points in their careers. For example, early in their careers, they may focus on creating effective instruction and training materials. Later in their careers, they may take on more managerial or leadership roles, where they oversee instructional design teams or departments.

Job Requirements

Instructional technologists and instructional designers typically need a bachelor’s degree in education, instructional design or a related field. Some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree as well. Instructional technologists and instructional designers might also pursue certifications through organizations like the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) or the eLearning Guild. These certifications can help professionals stand out to potential employers and show that they have the skills needed to succeed in the field.

Work Environment

Instructional technologists and instructional designers work in different environments. Instructional technologists typically work in schools, colleges or universities to help teachers implement technology into their classrooms. They may also work for companies that provide educational software or hardware to schools.

Instructional designers usually work in an office environment where they can focus on creating effective learning materials. However, some instructional designers may travel to meet with clients and observe the classroom setting before developing a course.


Both instructional technologists and instructional designers use a variety of skills to perform their jobs. These can include project management, analysis, research, writing and communication. However, there are some key differences in the skills each position uses most frequently.

Instructional technologists typically need to have strong technical skills to be able to understand and work with the various educational technologies they will be using in their projects. They also need to be able to apply instructional design principles to create effective learning experiences for students.

Instructional designers, on the other hand, focus more on the development of the actual content that will be used in instruction. This can include creating text, designing graphics, developing assessment tools and selecting appropriate multimedia. They also may need to have strong facilitation skills to lead training sessions or workshops.


Instructional designers can earn an average salary of $76,880 per year, while instructional technologists can earn an average salary of $68,938 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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