If you're considering teaching but prefer working with adults to increase their knowedge and practical skills, a career as a training and development officer may suit you

In this role you'll handle the learning and professional development of an organisation's workforce. You might also be known as a learning and development officer.

It is your job to equip staff with the knowledge, practical skills and motivation to carry out work-related tasks. You'll either deliver the training yourself or arrange for a third party trainer to do it.

Training and development officers help with the ongoing, long-term improvement of employees' skills, enabling them to fulfil their potential within their organisation. Increasingly, training and development officers are required to be strategic rather than reactive, assessing the skills and knowledge within an organisation and determining what training is needed to grow and retain these skills.

Responsibilities

The nature of the training and development role is industry-specific, with the level of responsibility and variety of activities dependent on the type and size of organisation. However, you'll need to:

  • identify training and development needs within an organisation through job analysis, appraisal schemes and regular consultation with business managers and human resources departments
  • design and expand training and development programmes based on the needs of the organisation and the individual
  • work in a team to produce programmes that are satisfactory to all relevant parties in an organisation, such as line managers, accountants and senior managers at board level
  • consider the costs of planned programmes and keep within budgets as assessing the return on investment of any training or development programme is becoming increasingly important
  • develop effective induction programmes
  • conduct appraisals
  • devise individual learning plans
  • produce training materials for in-house courses
  • manage the delivery of training and development programmes and, in a more senior role, devise a training strategy for the organisation
  • monitor and review the progress of trainees through questionnaires and discussions with managers
  • ensure that statutory training requirements are met
  • evaluate training and development programmes
  • amend and revise programmes as necessary, in order to adapt to changes occurring in the work environment
  • help line managers and trainers solve specific training problems, either on a one-to-one basis or in groups
  • keep up to date with developments in training by reading relevant journals, going to meetings and attending relevant courses
  • have an understanding of e-learning techniques, and where relevant, be involved in the creation and/or delivery of e-learning packages
  • research new technologies and methodologies in workplace learning and present this research.

Salary

  • Starting salaries typically range from £25,000 to £30,000 a year.
  • Training and development officers with a few years' experience can expect to earn between £30,000 and £45,000.
  • Salaries at senior training or development manager level are in the range of £45,000 to £65,000.

Salaries in training vary widely depending on which sector you are working in, the size and location of the organisation, and the level of responsibility you have. Once you are established, there are good prospects for high salaries.

Many organisations look for individuals with Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualifications, which can help you command a higher salaries.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Training and development work is typically a 9am to 5.30pm job, with some extra hours as necessary. If you're training staff who work shifts, you may need to fit in with their shift patterns. Part-time work is possible.

What to expect

  • Work is generally office based with the exception of training delivery, which can take place on or off the premises and at various locations throughout the country.
  • Increasingly, self-employment as a trainer is a viable option as training departments often bring in specific expertise as required. Before going freelance, it's useful to build up experience and get to know your market. Career breaks can be agreed with your employer.
  • Opportunities exist throughout the UK.
  • The balance of both genders in this field is good and employers implement diversity and equality initiatives to ensure that both genders are equally represented.
  • Personal presentation is important in this area of work, and dress codes vary among workplaces.
  • Working to deadlines may be a regular feature.
  • You will normally be based in your company's office so there's not much disruption to your personal life.
  • Travel during the day is likely in order to deliver training sessions, either locally or further afield, and may include absence from home overnight. You may also need to travel to multiple sites.

Qualifications

This area of work is open to all graduates of degrees and HNDs but you may find the following subjects particularly helpful:

  • business and related areas
  • human resources
  • IT
  • psychology.

Business-related or psychology degrees may gain some exemptions from examinations from the CIPD and will aid entry to specialised graduate schemes.

Entry into training and development is possible without a degree, particularly if you have relevant experience and skills.

Although a postgraduate qualification is not necessary, a Masters degree or diploma recognised by the CIPD will improve your chances of entry. Search for postgraduate courses in human resource management.

Specialisation in training and development often follows general personnel experience, and new graduates aren't always recruited straight into a training role. It's fairly common to work your way up from roles such as assistant training officer or administration assistant.

Skills

You will need to have:

  • interpersonal skills that enable you to work with people at all levels, motivate others and change people's attitudes when necessary
  • written and spoken communication skills that allow you to inform and advise others clearly
  • problem-solving and negotiation skills
  • initiative and the ability to offer new ideas
  • organisational and planning skills to manage your time and to meet deadlines and objectives
  • good time-keeping skills to enable you to effectively manage training schedules
  • personal commitment to improving your own knowledge and skills.

Work experience

Experience gained through activities requiring leadership and motivational abilities may boost your application. While still at university, consider getting involved in societies that enable you to develop organisational and teamwork skills.

Competition among graduates is increasing. If you have good business or organisational skills, you could look for jobs in training administration as an alternative starting point, and then progress into a training and development role.

If you're unable to find a paid summer placement to gain relevant work experience, try approaching employers about shadowing. Since this is unpaid and does not require specific training time they may be more willing to agree to it.

Another alternative is carrying out voluntary work though it may be difficult to find relevant opportunities.

Employers

There are opportunities for training and development officers or managers in a range of private and public employment sectors. These include:

  • central and local government
  • commercial firms
  • educational institutions
  • financial institutions
  • health service
  • law firms
  • leisure organisations
  • manufacturing organisations
  • retail companies.

Opportunities also exist in commercial training organisations, such as information technology training providers and personal development training organisations.

The job varies from organisation to organisation. In some large retail organisations or training consultancies you could be working in a large team of training professionals and be responsible for a team of trainers.

In smaller organisations, you might combine the training role with personnel functions and deliver more of the training courses.

Look for job vacancies at:

Specialist recruitment agencies advertise in these publications.

It is also worth writing speculatively to training departments and organisations. You'll find details through the CIPD.

Professional development

Although not essential, employers value membership of the CIPD.

The CIPD Advanced (Level 7) Certificate in Human Resources, the Level 7 Diploma in Human Resource Development (HRD) or the Level 7 Diploma in Human Resource Management (HRM) are equivalent to a Masters degree. The courses look in detail at learning and development management and business leadership from an HR perspective.

CIPD qualifications are available at centres throughout the UK and can be studied part time, by block release or through open and e-learning. Employers often finance study for CIPD qualifications.

The CIPD runs other relevant courses, such as the Certificate in Organisational Coach-mentoring, which aims to improve coaching capabilities within organisations. This is delivered using a mixture of practical experience and distance and online learning. The course is taken at a pace that suits the student.

Short courses and seminars on specific topics are also available with the CIPD. They're designed to fill any gaps in your knowledge and to update you on changes in training and development, see CIPD Training.

You are expected to keep up to date with developments in the industry throughout your career and to network with fellow professionals. Opportunities for this exist via the CIPD annual conference and exhibition, and through reading relevant books, reports, journals and magazines (the CIPD has a range of material available to members on its website).

Career prospects

To become a training and development officer, you often need to have gained three or four years' experience in a related role such as assistant training officer or training administrator.

From here, you can progress to higher levels which, depending on the size of the organisation, could include:

  • adviser, team leader or junior management
  • middle management/partner or head of department
  • senior management.

To reach the highest levels, you need to show great personal achievements within the field of training and development. It may be necessary to move from small organisations to larger ones in order to progress. Proven career management skills may be necessary to take advantage of opportunities.

Another option is to move into related work such as personnel, human resources or general management. With experience, it's also possible to become a lecturer in a college or university.

You may decide to set up your own business as a self-employed consultant.

As your career develops, you can upgrade your CIPD membership. For example, if you're a graduate member, you may upgrade to Chartered Member once you can demonstrate you have relevant management experience.

Your own personal development is essential to progression. Documenting any continuing professional development (CPD) you undertake, be it through attending conferences, doing short courses or adding to qualifications, is important.