If you're considering teaching but the idea of working with adults sounds more appealing, consider becoming a training and development officer

As a training and development officer you'll handle the learning and professional development of an organisation's workforce. It's your job to equip staff with the knowledge, practical skills and motivation to carry out their work activities effectively.

Increasingly, you'll be 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. You'll either deliver the training yourself or arrange for a third-party trainer to do it.

Jobs may be advertised under different titles including learning and development officer/adviser, training officer/manager or learning officer/manager.

Responsibilities

As a training and development officer, 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
  • plan and assess the 'return on investment' of any training or development programme
  • develop effective induction programmes for new staff, apprentices and graduate trainees
  • monitor and review the progress of trainees through questionnaires and discussions with managers
  • devise individual learning plans
  • conduct appraisals
  • produce training materials for in-house courses
  • create and/or deliver a range of e-learning packages
  • manage the delivery of training and development programmes
  • 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
  • research new technologies and methodologies in workplace learning and present this research.

At a more senior level, you'll also need to:

  • devise a training strategy for the organisation
  • build training programmes from scratch (from the initial idea through planning, implementation, review and outcomes analysis) and delegate work to other members of the learning and development team
  • work closely with and influence senior leaders and stakeholders.

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. Heads of learning and development may earn in excess of this.

Salaries in training vary widely depending on which sector you work in, the size and location of the organisation, and the level of responsibility you have.

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

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

A typical working day is 9.00am to 5.30pm, 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 UK.
  • Opportunities exist throughout the UK. Increasingly, self-employment as a trainer is a viable option as training departments often bring in specific expertise as required. Building up experience and getting to know your market before going freelance is the norm.
  • Personal presentation is important in this area of work, and dress codes vary among workplaces.
  • 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 but you may find the following subjects particularly helpful:

  • business and related areas
  • human resources
  • IT and computer studies
  • management
  • psychology.

Business-related or psychology degrees may gain some exemptions from CIPD exams. Contact the CIPD with details of your qualifications for advice. These degree subjects may also give you an advantage if applying to a specialised graduate scheme.

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

Although you don't need a postgraduate qualification, a Masters degree or diploma accredited by the CIPD may improve your chances of entry. Search 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 HR officer, recruitment consultant, assistant training officer or training administrator.

Taking a CIPD foundation-level qualification in learning and development may also be useful. This Level 3 qualification (Certificate or Diploma) is aimed at people starting out in a career in learning and development, or who are working in a learning and development support role and want to enhance their knowledge and skills. It's also possible to take the Level 5 intermediate-level qualification (foundation degree level).

Skills

You'll need to have:

  • interpersonal skills that enable you to work with people at all levels of an organisation, motivate others and change people's attitudes when necessary
  • written and spoken communication skills that allow you to inform and advise others clearly
  • presentation skills
  • a strong customer-focused background
  • problem-solving and negotiation skills
  • initiative and the ability to offer new ideas
  • strong teamworking skills and a collaborative approach to learning, both face-to-face and remotely
  • organisational and planning skills to manage your time and to meet deadlines and objectives
  • good time-keeping skills and the ability to multitask to enable you to effectively manage training schedules
  • proactive, enthusiastic and innovative approach to work
  • personal commitment to improving your own knowledge and skills and a passion for continuing learning and development.

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 work shadowing.

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, however, 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 vacancies.

Professional development

You're 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).

CIPD qualifications are valued by many employers. If you don't already have any, you may start by taking a Level 5 Certificate or Diploma in Learning and Development, which offers the opportunity to build your expertise in learning and development. Successful completion of the qualification leads to associate professional membership of the CIPD (Assoc CIPD).

With experience, you may take a CIPD Advanced Level 7 qualification (postgraduate level), aimed at those moving into a management role with strategic responsibility for learning and development. At this level, you'll get the chance to develop your knowledge further and to specialise in your chosen area of expertise. By following the learning and development pathway, you can cover areas such as:

  • undertaking a learning needs analysis
  • preparing, designing, developing and evaluating learning and development activities
  • organisation design and development
  • coaching and mentoring.

Successful completion of the Advanced-level Diploma leads to eligibility to apply to upgrade from Assoc CIPD to chartered membership (MCIPD), provided you have a minimum of three years' experience working at this level.

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.

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. For full details, see CIPD Training.

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. Alternatively, you may decide to set up your own business as a self-employed consultant.

Your own personal development is essential to progression. Documenting any continuing professional development (CPD) you undertake, whether you attend conferences, complete short courses or add to your qualifications, is important.