Careers in Training and Development Part 2: A quick study

Suppose you are delivering a  training session (either virtual or face-to-face) and at the end of the session, a participant says, “I think I’d like to have a job like yours one day. It looks interesting. How can I learn more about the field? What should I do to prepare for a career in this field?” As you formulate an answer, you realize there is no one clear path to a career in T & D nor is there one simple or straightforward job description. In fact, even the actual name of our field is up for debate: transitioning from training and development to workplace learning to talent development.

Thankfully, there are specific tools and strategies that you might suggest to help those interested in the field to quickly get a sense of what it’s about and how to begin the process of career development.

For a sense of what our field is about, visit two sites maintained by the U.S. Bureau of labor statistics:
• O-Net:
• Occupational Outlook Handbook:

They provide a quick overview of the field, the job outlook (which is excellent by the way) and key job titles. For a sense of the scope, training is a $90 billion industry that has experienced growth for the past 4 years.

Next, check out two association sites that pertain to training and workplace learning. Below are links to the national sites, but note that local chapters may be much more accessible and offer many free or low-cost opportunities to network and learn:

Association for Talent Development (ATD formerly ASTD): Be sure to check out the ATD Competency Model at which answers the question of what you need to know to prepare for a career in T & D.

International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI)
ISPI is a smaller, more grassroots organization that focuses on the bigger picture of performance, reminding us that there are multiple ways to address performance problems in the workplace besides training. Be sure to see the definition of performance improvement.

Finally, those who consider a new career or career change can research the job market to learn 1) the types of jobs available, 2) the requirements for education and experience that employers seek 3) the various job duties that individuals perform. So visit Indeed, Monster, or the ATD job bank and enter search terms like instructional designer, training and development specialist, e-learning designer, training manager, talent manager, etc. to see current positions. Be sure to evaluate the job postings in terms of the ATD competency model to note how the knowledge, skills, and abilities translate to career requirements.

The final question, “What should I do to prepare for a career in this field?” is a bit more complicated to answer and will depend on the individual’s background and resources for continuing education. For someone with a baccalaureate degree who is interested in pursuing a graduate degree, a Master’s in Training & Development, such as ours, or a degree in a related field like instructional design, or instructional technology can provide both the skills and credentials for career entry or change. When considering graduate programs, make sure the curriculum addresses the specific skill set you need for jobs that interest you. If you already have an advanced degree or lack the time or resources to pursue graduate study, ATD offers a variety of workshops and seminars linked to skill development. Langevin also provides similar workshops. Keep in mind that workshops such as these do not lead to degree completion or college credit and may not be viewed as positively in the job market.

Here are other strategies for self-directed learning:

• Read industry reports and articles. You may use the RU library to research specific topics related to training or use Google or Google Scholar.
• Check out books through the RU Library that pertain to training.
• Attend local or national conferences (see ATD or ISPI).
• Use Lynda to learn virtually. Most local libraries offer members free access to
• Attend free webinars. Just Google “free webinar” and keywords like training, e-learning, or performance improvement and you will find many options.
• Attend local chapters of ATD and ISPI and talk to members. You will find them very welcoming and happy to share their knowledge.

Questions for Discussion
1. What is your training story? Why are you interested in the field? If you are working in the field, how did you prepare?
2. Can you recommend additional resources that would be helpful to those interested in a career in training?



  • I appreciate that the blog has representation from individuals connected to the T&D program at Roosevelt as professors and as students. This provides multiple levels of knowledge and expertise. I appreciate Professor Iverson’s statement that there is not one clear path to a career in T&D. I’ve previously shared with others in the program that I am considering looking more into the field of training and development. My dream job would be a role that allows me to have T&D responsibilities but in the field of Higher Education/Student Affairs. Some would say that I’m in a set up similar to this in my current role. I would like a role that contains more T&D responsibilities. I’m not sure of what that would entail. However, I’m sure that my knowledge and understanding of the filed will continue to grow while perusing this program and being more involved in the field.

    My training story is that I actually stumbled across the T&D field. While working at Roosevelt, I knew that I wanted to complete a master’s degree. However, the institution did not have my desired field of study: Higher Education/Student Affairs. Therefore, I made the decision to look into programs that would be beneficial for me in my role at the time.
    While looking through the university’s list of programs, I came across T&D. Initially, I didn’t quite understand it nor was I 100% sure that it would be the best program for me. I requested multiple meetings with the program’s coordinator at the time and was fortunate enough to connect with graduates of the program.

    I’m happy that I stuck with my decision to pursue the T&D program. I’ve learned that there are a variety of industries that I could transition into with the degree. This is extremely important to me because I want to be as marketable as possible and have a variety of expertise. I’m excited to begin my second year in the program in the spring and am looking forward to what the T&D world has in store for me.

  • This article is very informative. I really appreciate the links which provide information for self directed learning. As the leader of a nonprofit in Chicago, I am always encouraging those around me working with the community to continue to enhance their knowledge and ability to train the parents who seek us out for help. I will definitely encourage volunteers at the nonprofit to visit the links provided. I’m sure they’ll find value in the information provided here.

    Marcella Simmons

  • Although I have been a training professional for nearly 15 years, and will graduate with a Masters in Training & Development in December, I spent most of my career in a very different field – sales and sales leadership. While I have had the opportunity to exercise some very different skills in my many roles in L & D, those I have most enjoyed (and sharpened!) were first uncovered as a sales manager. Just as a trainer has to focus on an entire class, so too with a sales manager. In fact, the sales manager who could best move on to a very satisfying training career excels in “force multiplying” by modeling for and coaching others to successfully executing the spectrum of selling skills from conducting a successful telephone campaign to negotiating complex deals. Conversely, there are some very successful sales managers who behave as “super-salespeople” jumping in to “rescue” their sales people by closing their deals. Most people have observed this sales leader behavior and, in fact, some companies even inexplicably cultivate it! So in addition, to the many good recommendations made in Ms. Iverson’s original post followed by those of others, I would offer that experience as a leader of others, especially those who follow force-multiplication strategies could find themselves well-equipped for a segue to a long and successful training career.

  • Unfortunately in some events there are no straight paths to some roles. The reality of the situation is when interviewing with Recruiters or hiring Managers, there are two main questions 1. Is this person likeable 2. Can I work with this person. Here are the facts, to support. Some people go to college never work in their particular area of concentration a day in their life, upon graduation they interview and are offered a job, some people work in the field, for a number of years and potentially never get considered or selected for the role, although they have experience and are fluid in the role. Here’s the action, always perfect your craft understand executing on all levels. For example, presenting to large and small crowds, presenting via virtual experience. Understand the dynamics of the organization, present solutions ,not just ideas. Be able to digest and execute what is asked of you. Lastly, know your WORTH! all companies don’t recruit or select candidates in the most professional or fair way, if you fell you have hit a glass ceiling move on, understand the value you represent.

  • I think this article is a very good read and really informative. This article really had me thinking back to the first time I had a slight interest in T & D. I always wanted to work my way up to upper management and one day be a department head but just didn’t know where or how I was going to get there. So about a year ago, I started working at Hertz a couple months after graduating from Ball State, and during my training period I had to go to this three day sales and service training. I was not happy about going and the drive there and back was about two hours each way. I’m already not a huge talker and frustrated about the drive, so my plan was to sit back, try not to fall asleep, think of a great podcast to listen to on my way home, and just get through these three days. However, I was pleasantly surprised by my instructor, Linda Coleman ( would never forget her name), and how engaged she had me in the class all three days. She drew me in and I was just amazed. This experience started to get me to think that this is something I would like to do. I would love to train and develop a group of people on this level. However, it remained a thought and nothing more until a couple of months later after a conversation with a customer. He was telling me about his life and his career in journalism and I told him about my background and expressed to him I wasn’t sure what my next steps would be. We continued the conversation and out of nowhere he says,” I think you’ll do really well training others. Especially for corporations like Hertz.” And it was as if a light bulb popped on in my head. It was a push that I didn’t know I needed. I started applying to different T & D graduate programs until I found the right one and now I’m here,

    With me being new to the field, I don’t know many additional resources, however networking never fails. Networking, getting your name out there and talking to others in the field will always be one of the greatest resources. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help. I think LinkedIn is a great way to help connect with individuals and learn more about their field of work. If you don;t have a LinkedIn, I do recommend making one and start connecting with different people in different industries.

  • First of all, thank you very much for the aricle as I really enjoyed reading it and all the wonderful posts of our classmates!

    What is my training story?

    As I was finishing my Undergraduate degree in Business Management I has started wanting to be in Human Resources Management but was not completely “sold” on it and hence pursued my MBA. It helped me learn about Training and Development but was more from a theoritcal standpoint, which was good at the time but was not sure when I was going to be able to utilize it. I have to say that the first time I got my hands dirty in training was when I got promoted to Team Lead overseeing 2 sales teams at my previous organization. It was such a new world for me as I got introduced to training new hires, conduct weekly training sessions, help our Managers provide proper performance reviews and then ensure I followed up on those reviews by helping with on the job training. I have to admit that the processes were quite traditional and not nearly as innovative as I learnt they could be later on in my career! But when I got to be more involved in the Business Development role and switched my direction to wirting and producing corporate programs, I got more interested in learning as to how others have been training their top talent, new hires and so on.. Hence I will have to admit that my training story is quite brief, when it comes to being involved but as I learnt from other industry leaders on how they loved their job, the satisfaction they got knowing they were adding to the ROI of their organization by developing their talent, it just makes me want to pursue a career that is challenging, evolving and where you get to make a difference.

    Which leads to the next question–Why am I interested?

    I may have answered that already. But I do like to add that I would like to pursue a role in HR and Talent Management/Development and I feel very strongly that, what I learn from here I can utilize in my long term career!

    2. Can you recommend additional resources that would be helpful to those interested in a career in training?
    I am not sure if I am the right person to ask this question as I am still getting accustomed to this field. However, I do feel that linkedin, ONET and such platforms are great tools to get more information. Also, I do believe that keeping your professional connections open is very important!

  • 1. What is your training story? Why are you interested in the field? If you are working in the field, how did you prepare?

    – Throughout undergrad, I spent my last couple years working in retail as a manager in a few different stores. I experienced good training, and also experienced poor training all of which led me to make certain decisions, most of which resulted in me leaving due to feeling like the expectations for me did not measure up to the knowledge and tool I was provided upon being hired. I am interested because I made it my mission whenever I was training newer employees, that I would give better training than I received. It seems like a waste of time to spend little time providing poor training to new employees, and then spending a larger chunk of time rectifying mistakes or problems that arise because of poor training.

    2. Can you recommend additional resources that would be helpful to those interested in a career in training?

    – The only other resource I can think of that was not mentioned specifically would be using SHRM. For me, it has been such a huge resource over the last year, more so over the last few months when it comes to anything employee/employer related.

  • Great read! As a new person transitioning into T&D I found it hard to gain access within the industry. Many of the jobs I searched for wanted 10+ years of experience and/or a Master’s degree. The resources provided will definitely assist in the development and discovery of my future career.

    My passion for training and development was first discovered through my first “real job” with State Farm’s corporate office. The energy, knowledge and helpfulness encountered made me want to have the same impact on others.

    As far as actual experience “training” I do not have any and look forward to gaining more knowledge within the field.

  • Alexandra Edwards

    I enjoyed reading this article. It reminds me of the horrible training experience I had and the moment I began my interests in training.
    I had to complete a two week training before I starting my new position with a new company. The training was too long for the amount information that was covered and the trainer was exceptionally boring. He would read directly from slides and had the trainees read from the slide. Each day was 7.5 hours of training and what felt like the longest 7 hours of my life. During the training, people would begin to walk out and take unplanned breaks and even going to the extreme as to quit.
    I believe that people retain & process information differently and adults lose their patience quickly when it comes to learning new information. I shared my thoughts about the training with the hiring manager and explained the reason why many people quit.
    As I learned my role and became more comfortable with my duties I took on the responsibility of training new employees on the floor. This was the beginning of getting into the field of training and development.
    I am currently working as a Recruitment Manager where I train new employees and coach current employees. This is my first formal role in training and I am excited to learn more.
    A few websites that have helped me learn more about the training and development field has been O-Net & Bureau of Labor Statistics. I also utilized Google as my main resource. I would advise someone to just begin searching on Google and take time to explore the cites that pop-up because it can direct you into many different resources that will help.

  • Any training experiences I’ve received was in retail. I’ve had trainers how were terrible and some that were great and inspired me to enjoy my job and execute daily goals. I then became a trainer myself in retail. The reason for my interest in the field is because I do enjoy finding out the strengths and weaknesses of people. I tend to elevate their strengths and work on their weakness in ways that will help them. Which can be challenging at times.

    I currently do not work in the field, I work in the construction field, and I am currently the trainee, not the trainer.
    I would think that additional resources, besides Google and school, is to really take the time to read job descriptions and really get a feel for what employers seek in potential candidates.

  • This is a great article. I like how it touched on how the training and development field doesn’t just have industry. It encompasses a multitude of different jobs that shape a company, and also its success. My undergrad degree is in psychology, but I really like the training and development field. I currently have no experience within this field, so I found this article very interesting. I have been thinking for sometime about the right steps to take to enter this field, so seeing the different jobs associated with this field is great. I am interested in this field because I want to be able to teachers others how to be successful, and want the company to be able to thrive in the future because of it.

    If someone is an interested in this field I would say doing your research is the first step. Being able to have a general knowledge about training and development would allow you to know what aspect of it you’d like to gravitate to. Another resource that many may not think about initially would be trying to get an interview with a professional. Interviewing a professional from a different aspect of the field would give you a look at what to expect, and could also give you insight on how to do well in that job. It would also give you a chance to learn about the different routes professionals took in those different areas to get to where they are now,

  • I really loved this article. My undergraduate degree was in business administration. After completing my bachelors, I did job in a small organization for two months as a sales trainee. As a trainer, I was responsible for guiding the sales team about how to sell the product in a market and how to convince the customers for buying the product. I knew every aspect of the sales jobs like what type of training should be provided to a salesperson for doing their work effectively and for achieving their targets. The reason why I choose that path because I love to do a work in which I would enhance the skills of the other person and share my knowledge with others. In my undergraduate, I had marketing subject in which I learned many things related to the sales, so this knowledge helped me a lot for doing a job as a sales trainee. I think training is an ongoing process because with the change in time many things will change in a market. So, it is necessary for an employer that they give proper training to their employees for the growth and development of the employees as well as for an organization.

    I do not have much experience in this field. As my recommendation, I would suggest that always read the articles on the career and development. Also try to built a network with the expert people of this field through LinkedIn or other social networking sites.

    • Totally agree with social networking, especially if you do not have the experience or are in the “entry level” stage. I just found out that one of my aunts worked in HRM field for 16 years as a director. I plan on networking with her and hopefully, I can get some tips and tricks for her.

  • When it comes to an individual looking for resources to enhance their career in training, I would recommend looking into different job boards in order to figure out the education and skills that individuals working in that position accquire. Many times when an individual is applying for a job there will be a very detailed description of the education needed or preferred as well as the top skills needs by the individual applying for the position such as strong communication skills, leadership skills or skills requiring different software such as Microsoft or/and excel. Research is super important when it comes too finding out more information about a specific career. Many websites such as indeed and Glass door will show average salary rates of an individual in any position throughout a specific company or just in general. Furthermore, taking extra classes online or at a university will help advance an individuals training skills and resume. Taking extra courses at school or online can help an individual strengthen various skills such as their leadership and communication skills.

  • My training story story started approximately five years ago when I finished my degree and started my first job as a HR Generalist. Part of my job responsibilities included trainings for hourly and salaried employees on a number of different topics. I would start by researching the topic, prepare the materials and submit to the HR Director for review and approval.

    As far as recommending additional resources for someone interested in a career in training I would advise them to look on employment websites to view open jobs in the field and look at required skills and knowledge to qualify for the job, seek advice from local universities or find a mentor currently working in the field. In some instances it may be as easy as looking within your organization to find an expert in the field that can provide more information.

  • My undergraduate degree is in communications and for the past 2 years I worked as an Operation’s Manager for a ferry company in Miami. As an Operation’s manager I was responsible for about 25 employee’s and handled all HR matter’s for each employee. Having that job got me interested in having a job in the field of Human Resource Management. I started at a small position but worked my way up to the top of the company. I knew every aspect of each position at that job and what each employee needed to do to be successful. I think training and development goes hand and hand with human resources. There’s so many different industries you can work in and still be in the training and development industry. I was put into a leadership position early because I learn fast and I try to master every job I work at and get to the next level until there are no more levels. I’m still learning new things because I am not fully where I want to be right now so my advice would be to shadow a professional that’s in the field that you want to be in. Get to know someone who can give you solid advise and help you secure a job somewhere. I still believe it’s about who you know and how you network that can get you far.

  • I absolutely loved this article. I liked the honesty about the actual title and the fact there are many names for training. I have never actually had a position that focused on just training. I have some experience with training when I was working for the Upward Bound Program. I was an administrative assistant and when new hires would come in I would train the employees on what to do and how to do it. I can honestly say that training and development is a very broad term and there are many jobs that a training and development has. I would say the reason I chose this path would be because I love when I teach someone and it feels good to know when they actually understand what is being taught. Some people are hard to understand but when I train someone and i have all of my research and I try not to make it boring then I know I doing something right when I still have that persons attention. Overall I believe this is the perfect field for me because I have so many creative ideas and I just can’t wait until I find the perfect career with the degree that I will earn.

  • This is indeed a very good article. I really like the fact that it touches on how one can prepare for a care in TD. I also appreciate how it highlights strategies or roadmap for HR professionals who are interested in taking this route to building a career in TD. Personally, I really don’t have much of a training Story, being new to the HR industry. But what I am gathering from this article, is that the more that I learn about the different aspects of Human Resources and how broad the industry is, the more that I become more interested in learning as much as I can about everything. I for one and interested in this field because T & D helps build the individuals that are employed through the organizations that we support. I think it’s a very important area of HR that helps build the character of the employees that we train and develop. We are not only building better employees, we are building better business. So it’s all part of the strategic plan of the organization

  • I have been in the human services field for about 5 years now and somehow it has led me to this field. I started out as a case manager for a small housing development corporation, then worked as a case manager in child welfare services, then as a job coach for Goodwill Industries, and now as a Vocational Case Manager for Goodwill Great Lakes. I have gotten the opportunity to help with training and orientation in my current role and really enjoy it. I come from a family full of educators as well which has influenced me to want to pursue a career as some kind of an instructor and given I have a background in human services and human resources, this seemed like the perfect fit.
    These resources are great and I will definitely be checking them out as an opportunity to grow my knowledge set in the field. I don’t have a lot of recommendations for resources for those interested in training and development, but I do have a great resource for assistance with accommodations for facilitating certain trainings. It is called the Job Accommodation Network. A good book to use while facilitating trainings would be the crucial conversations series. Networking is also a great strategy to use and Linkedin is one of the best options for this.

  • I loved this read this week, very informative and honest about this profession. My undergraduate degree is in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. I don’t believe I have a training story. I have worked as a supervisor in jobs for a few years but have not trained within an organization. I am currently working in a consulting field and learning from an executive consultant who has 34 years of experience. I am interested in this field because training and development is something that is always changing, there are always new ways to learn and new ways to do things and it basically keeps you on your toes. This type of job would be exciting and an always learning opportunity, which is something I really enjoy.

    I really would love to get training and development experience and be able to experience the field within an organization, whether that is interviewing someone or even shadowing a training and development manager, coordinator or director.

    The ATD website has been very helpful for me to learn more about what it takes to have a career in training as well as some of the qualities and skills needed in order to be successful. The website below gave me some insight as well as :

    Both of these websites gave me insight into two different types of jobs, one being a coordinator and one being a manager.

    I think truly the best resource is to find people who are working in the field of training and talking to them to find out what worked for them and the things they have experienced in the field.

  • To begin, the aspects of the T & D field that interests me would be the creation of new programs/solutions to help improve the performance and knowledge of employees. I like how to T & D profession allows one to be creative. By being creative, one can use their own ideas /research to learn more about the company for which they work as well as the employees. Moreover, I feel that I would most likely grow in the field of technology. Technology is consistently changing and becoming more advanced. Today many companies use technology (e.g., e-learnings) to train and keep employees up-to-date with new information regarding the company and the job itself. I believe that I have the creativity, passion motivation and determination to use technology as a way to help companies/employees progress.

  • My undergraduate degree is in psychology with a minor in business administration. Before I knew I wanted to get into HR, I took an industrial organizational class. This class is what sparked my interest in HR. I looked for HR internships and came across a training internship at Six Flags Great America. When I worked there, I led orientation classes to the thousands of employees that came to work there this season. I am interested in this field because I feel that I am having a direct impact on a company. I prepared by on the job learning from my managers and coworkers, but also learning about the company as much as I can. I also went out and worked in the park some days. It is more beneficial for a trainer to train, if they also have the knowledge and experience.

    Additional resources would be other people. I think it is important to always ask questions to family or friends in the field, professors, or other job employers.

  • My undergraduate degree is in Psychology. My focus and interest in graduate school is in Human Resource Management. Since I am new to the Training and Development field, I find the Bureau of Labor and Statistics website most helpful. The website provides the education requirements which are a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources, Business Administration, Education and related field. If you continue into graduate school, a master’s degree in Training and Development, Human Resource Management, Organizational Development and Business Administration. The bureau of labor and statistics website also provides information on the skills required. For example, understanding of the business operations to match training to the business strategic goals. Able to clearly communicate information and facilitate learning to diverse audiences. Use critical thinking skills when assessing classes, materials and programs. Strong interpersonal skills. Ability to create and teach a lesson plan. Ability to organize, motivate and instruct employees.

    Other websites are available with information regarding job description, location and availability (local or nationwide.);;;, these websites provide industries hiring in the field of interest and pay.

    What interest me about Training and Development is being able to train employees. Proper training helps increase an employee’s self-esteem which helps motivate the employees.

    My recommendation for researching into a field of interest would be to read articles on the career. Research top performing companies, search for webinars available for free on google and go into career websites and look up available jobs in your area.

  • My undergraduate degree is in sustainability. This is what I am truly interested in, and in my case it led to an interest in teaching others to be sustainable. So the training part of my career interest is more incidental. As far as what I would say to someone asking how to get into the field.. I think becoming an expert on the topic is the first step, and then marketing yourself as an expert willing to train others is the next step. To be competent in doing so requires some educational background in training and teaching, but the most important part is understanding the material you are teaching in an out.

    Additional resources I would reccomend include going to talks on the subject matter, courses in education and training, and also learning how to market onesself to potential client companies as an expert in the subject matter.

  • Thank you for sharing this information Kathy. Very helpful to know in the event that I get asked this question while taking the class.

    What is my training story? Initially I thought that I didn’t have a training story, but I remembered that I do. I actually started off doing a lot of training when I was in my third year of college. The training involved taking high school students and adults through a rites of passage training. There was a curriculum that we worked from and we used it throughout the CPS school year and then continued the training for three additional weeks in Ghana, West Africa. It was amazing. I am still in communication with a lot of the youth who are now adults who have their own families now. They often express great gratitude for the training and the impact it still has on their life today.

    Why am I interested in the field? I am interested in the field of Training & Development because I think it will assist me in my new role of Associate Director of HR & Operations with learning how to conduct and facilitate trainings for adults. It’s been a long time since I’ve been apart of any formal workplace training and I would like to be more confident in delivering workplace presentations and trainings. I think learning about this field will also assist me as future opportunities become available.

    2. Can you recommend additional resources that would be helpful to those interested in a career in training? Since I don’t have a lot of experience in this area and individuals inquiring about the field will probably have even less experience than me, I would recommend building a network of people to consult about the field. This network can be comprised of people you already know that either conduct trainings or have access to individuals who train. It might also be helpful to obtain a membership at one of the local training and development organizations. This would be helpful for individuals to expand their knowledge while building their personal resource bank.

  • Thank you for sharing, this was a very informative post. My “training story” came through being in people leadership roles that required training employees to adopt new skills and also the chance management role that I am in today that requires developing training strategies, plans and creating training content for employees. Thank you!

  • Hi Kathy!
    This is an excellent post, very informative.
    Have a good day-

    Tara Hawkins, MA | Admission Advisor| College of Pharmacy | Roosevelt University 1400 N. Roosevelt Blvd., Schaumburg, IL 60173 Room 430 | •: 847. 330.4535 | Ê: 847. 330.4524 | •

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