L&D Careers - Amy DuVernet, Ph.D., CPTM

As learning and development (L&D) professionals, we dedicate so much time and energy to developing our learners that we can neglect our own growth and development. Because training professionals can be found in companies of all sizes and industries, it’s not uncommon to feel adrift when it comes to steering our own careers, as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all career pathway in L&D. In this column, I aim to share valuable insights from Training Industry to empower you in your own L&D career journey. My hope is that you’ll discover useful tips and find inspiration to devote more time and attention to your own career development.

L&D Job Growth

The good news — the outlook for L&D careers is quite promising! The demand for L&D professionals has been spurred by the rise of diverse work models, such as the gig economy and temporary work arrangements, as well as the heightened mobility of career paths. Additionally, advancements in technology and a shifting perspective on the strategic role of L&D in addressing business challenges have contributed to an increased need for L&D expertise.

Notably, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual Occupational Employment and Wage (OEW) report for training-specific jobs indicates a significant upward trend over the past decade. Even more promising, a quick search on LinkedIn reveals nearly 900,000 job openings for training professionals in the United States alone, underscoring the wealth of opportunities within the field.

New Roles To Meet Emerging Needs

Traditionally, L&D positions were classified into five primary training process categories, including:

    1. Administration (e.g., coordinators, administrators, etc.).
    2. Content development (e.g., instructional designers, content developers, etc.).
    3. Delivery (e.g., instructors, facilitators, etc.).
    4. Technology (e.g., learning technologists, etc.).
    5. Leadership and oversight (e.g., training managers, training directors, vice presidents of learning, chief learning officers, etc.).

However, the dynamic business environment and L&D landscape have given rise to new roles that prioritize consultation and partnership, emphasizing a deeper understanding of the business issues driving the need for training. Further, as the view of L&D has shifted to that of a strategic business solution, interconnections between other employee experience functions, like hiring, succession planning and performance management, have become a greater focus. Positions that encompass these changes emphasize experience mapping, career paths and competency modeling, as well as sourcing and curating materials to create learning journeys.

Consequently, we’ve seen the emergence of newer job titles and positions with L&D teams that embody these newer concentrations such as curriculum architect, human performance analyst, strategy and learning specialist, L&D curator, learning partner, learning experience designer, strategic capabilities partner and learning performance consultant.

While each of these newer roles warrants unique L&D career pathways and development, Training Industry research reveals that the majority of L&D professionals espouse very similar career goals, with roughly 50% of L&D professionals aspiring to become L&D executives and another 20% seeking either training manager roles or independent consulting.

Salaries and responsibilities tend to increase as professionals ascend to executive positions, with CLOs commanding the highest salaries and facilitators and instructors often reporting lower salaries.

Moving Forward

In forthcoming columns, I will continue to explore L&D careers, offering insights and guidance to aspiring and established training professionals alike. By delving into the diverse roles, emerging trends and essential strategies for career development, I aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of L&D career paths and the evolving nature of this critical profession.

To participate in Training Industry’s L&D salary and career development research, learn more here.