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


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 a classroom, computer laboratory, or training facility.

Training and development specialists organize or offer training sessions using lectures, group discussions, team exercises, hands-on examples, and other training formats. Some training is in the form of a video, Web-based program, or self-guided instructional manual. 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 also may monitor instructors, guide employees through media-based programs, or facilitate informal or collaborative learning programs.

Work Environment

Training and development specialists held about 228,800 jobs in 2012, and work in nearly every industry.

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

Work Schedules

Most training and development specialists work full time during regular business hours.

Education and Training

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


Training and development specialists need a bachelor’s degree. Specialists can come from 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 or the social sciences, 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 training and development, instructional design, teaching, or related work. Some employers also prefer previous work experience in the industry in which the company operates. Increasingly, employers prefer candidates with experience in information technology, as organizations introduce more e-learning and technology-based tools.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many professional associations for human resources professionals offer classes to enhance the skills of their members. Some associations, including the American Society for Training and 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. In fact, many employers prefer to hire certified candidates, and some positions may require certification.


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.

Important Qualities

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

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. Training and development specialists need strong interpersonal skills because delivering training programs requires collaborating with instructors, trainees, and subject-matter experts. They also 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.


The median annual wage for training and development specialists was $55,930 in May 2012. 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 $31,910, and the top 10 percent earned more than $93,470.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for training and development specialists in the top five industries employing these specialists were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $64,770
Educational services; state, local, and private 56,400
Finance and insurance 56,320
Health care and social assistance 50,360
Administrative and support services 47,600

Most training and development specialists work full time during regular business hours.

Job Outlook

Employment of training and development specialists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

In many fields, employees are required to take continuing education and skill development courses throughout their careers. In addition, innovations in training methods and learning technology should continue throughout the next decade. For example, organizations increasingly use social media, visual simulations, mobile learning, and social networks 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.

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.

Across most industries, employment of training and development specialists is expected to grow as companies develop and introduce new media and technology into their training programs. Training and development contracting firms are often better equipped with the technology and technical expertise to produce new training initiatives, so some organizations will likely contract out portions of their training or program development work to these companies.

Job Prospects

Job prospects should be best for those with a bachelor’s degree in training and development, education, human resources, computer science, or instructional design, and with experience performing training and development work.

For More Information

For more information about training and development specialists, visit

American Society for Training and Development

International Society for Performance Improvement

For information about human resources management careers and certification, visit

Society for Human Resource Management