Training and Development Specialists

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What Training and Development Specialists Do[About this section] [To Top]

Training and development specialists help plan, conduct, and administer programs that train employees and improve their skills and knowledge.

Duties of Training and Development Specialists

Training and development specialists typically do the following:

  • Assess training needs through surveys, interviews with employees, or consultations with managers or instructors
  • Design and create training manuals, online learning modules, and course materials
  • Review training materials from a variety of vendors and choose appropriate materials
  • Deliver training to employees using a variety of instructional techniques
  • Monitor and evaluate training programs to ensure they are current and effective
  • Select and assign instructors or vendors to conduct training
  • Perform administrative tasks such as monitoring costs, scheduling classes, setting up systems and equipment, and coordinating enrollment

Training and development specialists create, administer, and deliver training programs for businesses and organizations. To do this, they must first assess the needs of an organization. Once those needs are determined, specialists develop custom training programs that take place in classrooms or training facilities. Training programs are increasingly delivered through computers, tablets, or other hand-held electronic devices.

Training and development specialists organize or deliver training sessions using lectures, group discussions, team exercises, hands-on examples, and other formats. Training can be in the form of a video, self-guided instructional manual, or online application. Training also may be collaborative, which allows employees to connect informally with experts, mentors, and colleagues, often through the use of technology.

Training and development specialists may monitor instructors, guide employees through media-based programs, or facilitate informal or collaborative learning programs.

Work Environment for Training and Development Specialists[About this section] [To Top]

Training and development specialists hold about 252,600 jobs. The industries that employ the most training and development specialists are as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services 14%
Healthcare and social assistance 13
Finance and insurance 11
Educational services; state, local, and private 11
Manufacturing 7

They spend much of their time working with people, giving presentations, and leading training activities.

Training and Development Specialist Work Schedules

Most training and development specialists work full time during regular business hours. About one-fifth work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Training or Development Specialist[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Training and Development Specialists near you!

Training and development specialists need a bachelor’s degree, and most need related work experience.

Training and Development Specialist Education

Training and development specialists need a bachelor’s degree. Specialists may have a variety of education backgrounds, but many have a bachelor’s degree in training and development, human resources, education, or instructional design. Others may have a degree in business administration or a social science, such as educational or organizational psychology.

In addition, as technology continues to play a larger role in training and development, a growing number of organizations seek candidates who have a background in information technology or computer science.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Related work experience is important for most training and development specialists. Many positions require work experience in areas such as training and development or instructional design, or in related occupations, such as human resources specialists or even teachers.

Employers may prefer to hire candidates with previous work experience in the industry in which the company operates. However, some employers may hire candidates with a master’s degree in lieu of work experience. Increasingly, employers prefer candidates with experience in information technology, as organizations introduce more e-learning, mobile training, and technology-based tools.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many human resources associations offer classes to enhance the skills of their members. Some associations, including the Association for Talent Development and International Society for Performance Improvement, specialize in training and development and offer certification programs. Although not required, certification can show professional expertise and credibility. Some employers prefer to hire certified candidates, and some positions may require certification.

Advancement for Training and Development Specialists

Training and development specialists may advance to training and development manager or human resources manager positions. Workers typically need several years of experience to advance. Some employers require managers to have a master’s degree in a related area.

Important Qualities for Training and Development Specialists

Analytical skills. Training and development specialists must evaluate training programs, methods, and materials, and choose those that best fit each situation.

Creativity. Specialists should be creative when developing training materials. They may need to think of and implement new approaches, such as new technology, when evaluating existing training methods.

Instructional skills. Training and development specialists often deliver training programs to employees. They use a variety of teaching techniques and sometimes must adapt their methods to meet the needs of particular groups.

Interpersonal skills. Specialists need strong interpersonal skills because delivering training programs requires collaboration with instructors, trainees, and subject-matter experts. They accomplish much of their work through teams.

Speaking skills. Speaking skills are essential for training and development specialists because they often give presentations. Specialists must communicate information clearly and facilitate learning by diverse audiences.

Training and Development Specialists Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for training and development specialists is $57,340. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,980, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $97,660.

The median annual wages for training and development specialists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $65,460
Finance and insurance 59,930
Educational services; state, local, and private 58,480
Manufacturing 58,290
Healthcare and social assistance 51,760

Most training and development specialists work full time during regular business hours. About one-fifth work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook for Training and Development Specialists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of training and development specialists is projected to grow 7 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employees in many occupations are required to take continuing education and skill development courses throughout their careers, creating demand for workers who lead training activities.

Employment of training and development specialists is expected to grow across most industries as companies develop and introduce new media and technology into their training programs. Innovations in training methods and learning technology should continue throughout the next decade. For example, organizations increasingly use social media, visual simulations, and mobile learning in their training programs. Training and development specialists will need to modify their programs to fit a new generation of workers for whom technology is a part of daily life and work.

Since training and development contracting firms may have greater access to technology and technical expertise to produce new training initiatives, some organizations outsource specific training efforts when internal staff or resources are not able to meet the training needs of the organization.

Additionally, as baby boomers reach retirement age and begin to leave the workforce, organizations will need capable training and development staff to train their replacements. The need to replace a large workforce of highly skilled and knowledgeable employees should result in organizations increasing their training staff, or contracting out services, to sustain a workforce of high quality employees and maintain a competitive edge.

Training and Development Specialists Job Prospects

Overall, job opportunities should be good. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in training and development, education, human resources, computer science, or instructional design, and with experience in training and development, particularly online and mobile training and development programs, will have the best prospects.

Employment projections data for Training and Development Specialists, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Training and development specialists 252,600 271,500 7 18,900


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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