Instructional design jobs were often done remotely before the pandemic. Now that more organizations are used to distributed work, even more opportunities for remote instructional design and elearning work are available.
As an independent consultant, I have worked from home full time since 2011. Prior to that, I had jobs that allowed at least partial remote work. In total, I’ve been working remotely since 2006. It used to be rare to find salaried positions that are 100% remote, but it’s becoming more common now.
While I expect some work to return to office buildings after the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, I think employers will have to be more flexible. Folks who have gotten used to working from home aren’t going to to easily give up the flexibility and lack of time commuting. All the excuses that “this job can’t be done remotely” are going to be hard to justify.
That doesn’t mean it will always be 100% remote. For example, during one contract, I worked from home 3 days a week. One of my friends at that job worked most days from home; she even got permission to work only half days, all of it from home, for several weeks when her daughter was sick and needed extra care. That kind of flexibility in schedule and place will be a way to attract employees moving forward.
Finding remote work
A Google search for “instructional design remote work” returns over 15 million hits, so there are things out there. You may need to hunt a bit more though. I’ve been recruited in the past for jobs that required travel at the beginning and end of a project, plus perhaps occasionally during, but otherwise you could work from home.
One strategy is to look at online colleges and universities, including community colleges. These are organizations who are used to having instructors work virtually, so they have the infrastructure in place already. During the pandemic, many universities became desperate for IDs to help move courses online. That demand has dropped somewhat, but online university programs aren’t going away.
HigherEdJobs.com allows you to filter for remote jobs when you search their listings.
On the corporate side, companies that specialize in creating elearning for other organizations frequently hire remote instructional designers and elearning developers. Smaller companies may only hire freelancers and subcontractors, but even mid-size companies have full-time roles. Search online for “elearning vendor” or “elearning company” to start a search.
Some LMS vendors have teams to create custom elearning using their systems (Blackboard is a big one).
In addition, a few companies specialize in recruiting and placement within the learning and development field. Teamed, for example, regularly posts available positions.
Job boards and other sites
I think anyone who is looking for a job should be on LinkedIn. It lets you build your network and see how you’re connected to companies you might like to work for. You can search and apply for many positions directly on LinkedIn. Having a solid LinkedIn profile is one of the best way to be found by recruiters.
I moderate the eLearning Global Network: Jobs and Announcements group on LinkedIn. Look for other LinkedIn groups that share jobs as well.
The Learning Guild maintains a job board (I got one of my previous remote positions through this board). A free membership is required.
On Articulate’s job board, you can filter for remote roles.
Toptal is an option for finding freelance instructional design work.
As a general site for job searching, Indeed is helpful.
FlexJobs is a paid job search site that covers all industries, but only telecommute or flexible positions. I haven’t used it myself, but someone I worked with at Cisco has had great luck finding long-term contracts via this site.
What else should I add?
What advice would you give to someone looking for a remote instructional design job? Are there resources I should have suggested but left off my list? I know my list is fairly US-centric; I’m just not at all familiar with what else is out there in the world.
What have your experiences been finding instructional design jobs where remote work is an option?
Originally published 5/8/2008 under the title Telecommute Instructional Design Jobs. Significantly updated and republished with a new title 4/21/2020. Minor updates 7/24/2023.