With that in mind, the below responses are what I see as pros and cons. You can use them to determine how they fit with your own personality and interests.
Pros (from my perspective):
- You get a learn about many different topics: This is a great profession for curious people. I've created learning content for university courses, company onboarding, insurance policies, software tools, supply chain processes, K-12 subjects like history and biology, retail POS systems, many more!
- You get to build a wide range of skills: The best IDs have skills in communication, writing, problem-solving, relationship-building, project management, visual design, research, multimedia, content development, and (sometimes) video production and graphic design.
- You can work from anywhere: Most modern ID work can be done remotely. As long as you have the skills to be able to effectively communicate with your team and SMEs (subject matter experts) through video meetings and email, you can complete your work from anywhere.
- You get to solve fun problems: ID work is all about solving problems. Often there is some type of knowledge or skill "gap" you're trying to solve. These problems can be fun to work on if you enjoy brainstorming and complex problem-solving.
- You get to write a lot: IDs need to be highly skilled at communicating through written word. Most of the work you'll do requires a significant amount of writing. You may need to write video scripts, content outlines, articles, instructional blogs, many other forms of writing.
- You get to work with a lot of different people: IDs spend a lot of time working with subject matter experts (SMEs, for short). These SMEs are the 'expert' on the topic you're creating instructional content for. You'll work closely with them to extract information and transform it into digestible content others can learn from.
Cons (from my perspective):
- It can be difficult to measure outcomes: One of the big problems for IDs is measuring their work. How can you tell if the course you built is actually helping solve a problem? Most often, your course will be attempting to alter human behavior. Behaviors can be especially challenging to measure on a large scale, making it difficult to measure your overall outcomes and show your value.
- Employment opportunities are more limited than other fields: Instructional design positions in the corporate world are often limited to Learning & Development teams (in Human Resources) or Customer Education teams in Sales. Those teams are often fairly small and only available in mid to large-sized companies. In fields like Sales or Marketing, there is a much larger pool of potential job opportunities. Companies of all industries and sizes need employees to help them sell and market their products. Just something to consider when deciding a career.
I hope these thoughts help! I've found instructional design to be an incredibly rewarding career choice. If you're at all interested, I'd encourage you to take some online courses to learn the basics. You can also try to create your own online course just for fun. This will help you understand the overall process of instructional design and see what parts you like and dislike. Best wishes to you!
Andrew recommends the following next steps:
I would echo Andrew's response above on ...
1. You can do this work from anywhere. I've worked from a home office since 2006.
2. You get to meet a lot of great subject matter experts and learn a lot about different topics.
3. You get to develop a lot of different skills such as visual communication, multimedia, video production, elearning development, writing/scripting, and understanding learning gaps.
As far as cons, my biggest wish is that instructional design roles in non-profits and education would pay as well as instructional design jobs in the corporate world.
If this is something that interests you, you may also want to consider an area of subject matter expertise. For example, I have a software engineering background and this has allowed me to develop all kinds of training in the technical world because I'm fluent in the language and it's easy for me to speak to subject matter experts.
Hope this helps!