I graduated college and immediately set out to be a technical writer. But recently another, similar career option has crossed my path: instructional design.
Instructional design is similar to technical writing in many ways. Both instructional designers and technical writers teach others. Technical writers most often teach technology and so do instructional designers, but instructional designers may also teach a wider variety of practical skills to adults.
One online article explained that instructional designers often enter their career with a defined path, usually through graduate school. Technical writers more often fall into tech writing. This is because there are few graduate level programs in technical writing while instructional design graduate programs abound. The reason for this might be that instructional designers have to teach in person and over the web while technical writers generally do not (though it varies widely from position to position). Maybe academics feel that teaching requires a graduate degree while writing does not. But that’s just a guess.
The funny thing about the article that said that people set out to be instructional designers while technical writers fall into their positions is that I have had the exact opposite experience. The Outreachy internship at Mozilla had me do a project that combined both technical writing and instructional design. So in that way, I set out to be a technical writer and fell into instructional design. Now although I lean more towards technical writing job applications, I also look at instructional design applications.
As I continue my job search, I will show employers that I have both skills while I work, apply, hope, and dream.