Training and Development Specialist
Training and Development Specialist
Education and Training: College
Salary: Median—$44,570 per year
Employment Outlook: Very good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Training and development specialists help businesses, institutions, and government agencies to develop, carry out, and evaluate training programs for their employees. These specialists, also known just as trainers, may prepare newly recruited employees for their jobs. They often assist employees with job transitions in the event of a corporate merger or acquisition. They also may instruct employees in new technology, in a new management and reporting system, or in safety and health precautions. Trainers must analyze organizations, discover where training would be most useful, and design new programs to fit the need. They frequently use training methods that include audiovisual aids, classroom instruction, role-playing, or equipment such as computers. When the training sessions are complete, trainers evaluate the effectiveness of the training to ensure that the desired results are being achieved.
Also known as human resource development specialists or employee development specialists, these specialized human resources workers are employed by federal, state, and local government, by school systems, and by firms in private industry. Some trainers are self-employed as freelance specialists. Many more work for private consulting firms that specialize in areas such as management, marketing, or interpersonal behavior.
Training and development specialists should have strong interpersonal and verbal skills, imagination, and a good sense of humor. In addition, trainers must have a good understanding of how organizations function, together with special competence in the particular area in which they train.
Education and Training Requirements
Most training and development specialists have at least a bachelor's degree, frequently in computer science, psychology, English, or management science. Many trainers also have a master's degree in a training-related field. A doctoral degree is becoming increasingly common among personnel workers who specialize in the development of new training programs.
Two- and four-year programs or specialized courses related to training exist at many colleges and universities nationwide. Course work in communication skills such as public speaking and audiovisual techniques and in management science are especially helpful. Many people enter the field after previous experience as teachers, broadcasters, or in other professions that involve public speaking.
Getting the Job
A college placement office may be able to help a graduating student find a job as a training and development specialist. Interested individuals should check classified ads on the Internet and ads in local newspapers for listings under personnel jobs. Candidates can also apply directly to companies that have large personnel departments. Those who are interested in government jobs should apply to take the necessary civil service examination. State and private employment services may also offer job leads.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Trainers can advance by developing expertise in a specialized area, such as marketing or management training. Training and development specialists can also become supervisors, managers, or executives of training programs or organizations. Some training and development specialists establish their own consulting firms. Those with advanced degrees will have the best opportunities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, training and development specialists held 216,000 jobs in 2004. Employment of training and development specialists is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2014. Training programs have grown rapidly in recent years as both public- and private-sector employers seek to upgrade the training and productivity of their workers. Growth in the training field is sensitive to the general economic situation, however. Training programs are often among the first areas to be cut during recessionary periods.
Training and development specialists may work singly or as members of a team of trainers. Their work may involve the use of audiovisual equipment or office machinery. Many trainers travel extensively to conduct training workshops. Because training programs are often scheduled outside normal working hours, trainers frequently work on weekends or in the evening.
Where to Go for More Information
Earnings and Benefits
Earnings of training and development specialists vary according to their education and level of responsibility. The median annual salary for training and development specialists was $44,570 in 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specialists with salaries in the top 10 percent made more than $74,650 per year. Benefits for salaried trainers generally include health and life insurance, paid holidays and vacations, and pension plans.