As a training professional, you spend much of your time focused on the career development of others. But what does your own career path look like? What are your prospects as a training professional, and how are training roles evolving? Read on to find out.
Training Careers Are on the Rise
The training profession is seeing growth in both traditional and new learning and development (L&D) roles. Job search engine Indeed lists over 250,000 L&D jobs, including more than 3,800 job openings for training managers and learning and development managers (with the average salary ranging from $60,000 to $76,000 per year). What’s more, L&D jobs are expected to see a faster than average growth: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10% increase in training manager jobs and an 11% increase in training and development specialist jobs from 2016 to 2026.
Why are more and more companies looking for training professionals? For one thing, virtually every industry needs training. In addition, the rise in different kinds of work (gig, remote, etc.), coupled with greater career mobility and job hopping and rapidly advancing technology, means that training and upskilling the workforce is even more important than ever before.
Shifting Training Roles
In response to these changes in work and the workforce, training roles are changing, too. For example, consulting and business partner skills are more important, because while the need for training is high, understanding the root “why” behind that training (i.e., what it is that business partners really want to accomplish) is more difficult. At the same time, businesses continue to expect all functions to do more with less.
In addition, we’re seeing a move away from event-based training to a focus on the whole employee experience, as the training industry has begun to recognize the important role learning plays throughout an employee’s lifetime. Rather than relying on one-time formal events to target employee skills and knowledge gaps, L&D must focus on the employee experience both during and after formal events, crafting a learning experience as a continuous progression throughout an employee’s career to reflect the importance of lifelong learning. This change means that training professionals now need additional skills to understand career paths, competency mapping, and the way that training interconnects with other HR and employee experience functions (hiring and promotion, succession planning, performance management, etc.).
Recognizing that training is one piece of the performance puzzle, then, training managers and specialists now serve as consultants with additional responsibilities. Training managers, in particular, must be capable of seven core responsibilities and their associated competencies. Reflecting the changing nature of work, they include identifying needs through consultation and information management; optimizing processes through critical thinking and problem-solving; evaluating training outcomes through organizational performance analysis; and strategic alignment through influencing/negotiating and strategic thinking. Training managers also must possess foundational leadership competencies such as change management, organizational awareness and business acumen. Each of these new competencies speaks to a shift toward being a more strategic business partner, with an understanding of how the company operates as a whole as well as an understanding of stakeholder needs and concerns.
Other roles have taken on additional focus areas. For example, learning administrators now play the role of content curator and, sometimes, technologist. Instructional designers now must take the employee’s whole experience into account, planning for post-training sustainment and understanding the other kinds of training they’ve received. Their toolkit has also greatly expanded to include different avenues of learning, including microlearning, coaching, virtual and blended learning, and on-the-job performance support tools.
New training roles are emerging in the face of new technologies and work trends; here are just a few:
- Blended learning designer
- Capability architect
- Curriculum architect
- Human performance analyst
- Strategy and learning specialist
- L&D curator
- Competence development specialist
- Learning and skills coordinator
- Learning partner
- Learning experience designer
- Strategic capabilities partner
What Does This Mean for You?
It’s good news! The value of your skill set is likely to continue to rise – but you must remain up to date on the evolution of those skills. Preparation for L&D roles must take these new skill sets into account, and continuing education for people already working in L&D has never been more important.
Know your worth! Serving in an L&D role is a big responsibility; be sure to check salary information on websites like Indeed and Glassdoor to understand what your market value is. Also, keep in mind that there are tools available to help you make a case for your professional development. Just as your business invests in developing your learners by employing you, it should invest in developing you to ensure high performance.
Download the free e-book “Career Pathways in Learning and Development: Perspectives and Strategies for Your Training Career”: