Organizations must evolve to survive. Those that do not continuously adapt to a changing marketplace run the risk of quickly becoming obsolete. Achieving the goal of continuous change requires training and development programs and a dedicated and qualified staff of training and development specialists.
Sometimes called learning and development specialists, those who work in this area of human resources are the engine that drives positive, structured change in an organization. They are experts in developing training methods that maximize both the return on investment for organizations and the potential of talented employees.
It’s a key position because it helps in two major areas for employers.
The first is it bolsters the bottom line because companies staffed with managers and employees who learn fast and adapt well tend to perform better over time.
The second is that in an era of low unemployment, retaining quality people requires creating an environment where they can develop and grow. Quality training and development are seen as job perks just as valuable as good salary packages and vacation plans.
Job titles in the training and development field are numerous. Here are a few examples as listed on ONET Online, which is run by the U.S. Department of Labor:
- Computer Training Specialist
- Corporate Trainer
- E-Learning Developer
- Job Training Specialist
- Management Development Specialist
- Senior Instructor
- Supervisory Training Specialist
- Technical Trainer
- Training Specialist
What is Training and Development in HR?
Training and development specialists hold a critical position in HR. Their job involves providing the best possible training and development courses to employees at all levels of an organization.
They accomplish that goal by first learning the knowledge areas, functional skills and behavioral traits that add value and improve the performance of their organization. They then study the various learning delivery systems available to them, choosing the one that offers the best training and development for employees. This includes coaching, on-the-job learning and experiential learning.
They learn how to design training and development plans, implement those plans and determine what type of training offers the best return on investment for an organization.
Many start a career in training and development by working in the various learning and development areas within a company. This includes designing training content and training programs, as well as working in online learning and instructional development.
What Does a Training and Development Specialist Do?
When it comes to day-to-day job duties, training and development specialists typically tackle the following tasks, according to ONET Online.
Assess training needs. A training specialist must first determine the training needs for an organization. They do so with tools such as employee surveys and interviews, focus groups, and consultations with managers, instructors and customer representatives.
Design training programs. Once they determine the best type of training for employees, training and development specialists then design the program and direct its implementation.
Write training presentations. Training and development specialists are often responsible for producing the written guides and course materials needed in a training program.
Present training information. In addition to designing and guiding a training program, specialists may also participate in the delivery of the training. This can include giving lectures, leading group discussions, using role-playing and simulations to teach important skills and guiding employees in the use of computer-based training software.
Where Do Training and Development Specialists Work?
Training and development specialists are needed in all industries. There is always a need for both employees and managers to learn more to stay competitive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the largest employers of training and development specialists are professional service companies, which are often consultants that organizations bring in from the outside.
The other top employers in training and development are:
- Healthcare and social assistance
- Educational services
- Finance and insurance
- Administrative and support services
Training and Development Job Outlook and Salary
As the modern business world evolves quickly into a data-driven and tech-heavy world, the need for training has increased. The BLS projects 9% growth in the field by 2029, faster than the national average for all jobs.
In May 2020, the annual average salary for training and development specialists nationwide reached $67,440, according to the BLS.
How to Become a Training and Development Specialist
There is no one path to becoming a training and development specialist, although every path involves a degree or certificate. Experience and the development of soft skills are also important.
ONET Online reports that in a survey of the field, most either have a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree, either in HR or business, such as an online Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management. Another popular choice is a Master of Business Administration program.
The best training and development specialists also gain skills outside of the technical skills needed for the job. Soft skills are a critical part of the job, including above average communication and collaboration skills.
Certification for Training and Development
Human resources professionals put a great deal of emphasis on continuous training and development. Organizations such as the Association For Talent Development and the International Society for Performance Improvement provide information on training and development industry certification.
As pointed out by the Association for Talent Development, the global nature of today’s business world also raises the issue of learning training and development skills for specific global job markets. Knowledge in such areas can make for more attractive job candidates.