New Study Delves Into Unexplored Professional Development Benchmarking for Instructional Design and Technology Teams

April 7, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 7, 2017 – A study released today by the UPCEA eDesign Collaborative maps the expertise and roles in instructional design teams throughout North America. The study, Instructional Design and Technology Teams: Work Experiences and Professional Development, establishes benchmarks for experience and salaries among members of instructional design team members, and also reveals the professional development priorities shared by instructional design team members and team leaders.

The work of instructional design and technology teams is critical to the online enterprise and professional learning at many postsecondary institutions. The UPCEA eDesign Collaborative (eDC) serves higher education instructional design teams (instructional designers, multimedia developers and team administrators), and was launched in 2016 to provide this growing profession with networking and professional development. These teams are increasingly important to the future of higher education because of the continued growth of online education, as well as the increased sophistication of their work.

Despite the strategic importance of these teams, prior to this study there has been scant benchmarking of the instructional design profession itself. The goals of this study – the inaugural research effort by the eDesign Collaborative – were to learn more about the demographics, work experiences, and professional development needs of instructional design teams, and how to best equip team members to further their careers.

“There is no sector of higher education that is more dynamic, and more sophisticated, than online learning,” said Robert Hansen, CEO of UPCEA.  “So it’s not surprising that the profession of instructional design is evolving rapidly. This study helps us get a handle on that evolution and on how the eDC can mobilize to support these professionals.”

Among the study’s key findings:

  • Team leaders have been in their current roles slightly longer than team members, as 19% of leaders have been in their role longer than eight years, compared with only 7% for team members.
  • Salary ranges differed between team leaders ($59,000-$88,000) and team members ($20,000-76,000). The averages for team leaders and team members were $79,000 and $60,000, respectively.
  • When looking at future professional development opportunities, free webinars and in-person conferences were the most sought-after development opportunities for both team leaders and team members. Team members were much more likely to seek paid webinars and courses associated with a degree program than leaders.
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents (both team leaders and team members) indicated that the frequency of professional development within their organization is determined more by the cost than the number of opportunities.

Julie Uranis, Vice President for Online and Strategic Initiatives for UPCEA said, “This study is a primer for any leader that needs to understand the nature of instructional design teams. Instructional design teams are critical to the success of the online enterprise at most institutions, and this study presents both operational and aspirational opportunities for leaders looking to enhance their support around online teaching and learning.”

The study was conducted by Jim Fong, director of UPCEA’s Center for Research and Strategy; Julie Uranis, Vice President for Online and Strategic Initiatives for UPCEA; Camille Funk, Academic Director for Bovard College at the University of Southern California and Director of the UPCEA eDesign Collaborative; and numerous members of the eDesign Collaborative.

The full results of the study, Instructional Design and Technology Teams: Work Experiences and Professional Development, are available here.

The results of the study will also be discussed on an upcoming eDesign Collaborative Webinar on Wednesday, April 12 at 3pm Eastern. Learn more and register here.




UPCEA is the association for leaders in professional, continuing, and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA membership includes most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. For more than 100 years, the association has served its members with innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities and timely publications. Based in Washington, D.C., UPCEA also builds greater awareness of the vital link between contemporary learners and public policy issues. Learn more at



Get Involved with UPCEA

Professional development isn't just about attending sessions. Get involved with UPCEA to meet members from other institutions, share the great work your institution is doing, and hone your own skills. From submitting a session proposal for a conference or an article for a publication to serving as a volunteer on a conference planning committee, there are as many ways to engage with us!


Awards of Excellence

Since 1953, UPCEA has recognized its members' outstanding contributions to the Association and the field, as well as their achievements in innovative programming, marketing and promotion, community development and services, research and publications, and many other areas.