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Training and development specialists salary & career outlook

Training and development specialists, also called corporate trainers, are responsible for advancing and streamlining employee performance. They do this by creating individual and company-wide training and development programs, using a variety of methods to assess a company's needs, including surveys, focus groups, and interviews with employees and managers.

Corporate trainers typically have a background in human resources or a similar subject, and it's important that they're familiar with all forms of media used to conduct training programs, from modern audiovisual methods to traditional written and oral instruction. These specialists must also possess an ability to identify and utilize the individual benefits of each mode of communication, and they often use a blend of media to create employee training programs that fit tightly to particular training goals. Because corporate trainers also monitor programs to ensure that they stay on budget, proficiency with financial spreadsheet programs, itemized reporting and other basic accounting skills can be a big plus.

Training and development specialist salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary for training and development specialists in the U.S. was $60,780 in 2013. The upper 10 percent of people working in this profession earned more than $95,600 in 2013, according to the same data set, while the bottom 10 percent took home $32,190 or less for the year.

There were 228,800 people employed as training and development specialists that same year, per the BLS, and the majority worked for private businesses. Of those, the highest concentration of jobs was at at computer design firms, hospitals and scientific and technical consulting firms. A comparatively small percentage of corporate trainers worked in government positions at the local as well as the federal level.

BLS data indicates that the East Coast, particularly the northern part of it, offered particularly high wages for training and development specialists in 2013. Here are a few examples of average annual salaries reported by geographic area:

  • Washington, D.C.: $74,900
  • New Jersey: $70,580
  • Massachusetts: $70,400
  • Connecticut: $69,700

Unfortunately, some of the highest-paying areas for training and development specialists also confront residents with an elevated cost of living, which can blunt the edges of a good salary offer. In these locations, the 2013 average salaries align better with cost of living data taken from the Council for Community & Economic Research's Cost of Living Index for June 2014:

  • Decatur, Alabama: $86,610 mean annual salary; 6th most affordable state
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee: $69,380 mean annual salary; 2nd most affordable state
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: $62,610 mean annual salary; 7th most affordable state

Job outlook for training and development specialists

Career growth for this job is expected to be steady, if less than spectacular. The BLS expects a 15 percent increase nationwide in employment of training and development specialists between 2012 and 2022, leading to about 34,500 new positions for qualified candidates in the field. The high number of baby boomers leaving the workforce, coupled with a fleet of new job candidates coming in to fill their roles, is expected to create formidable demand for skilled corporate trainers to help whip the new generation into shape.

Certain states are expected to have even higher growth rates than the national average, according to Projections Central. The areas with the best growth rates for 2012 through 2022 include:

  • Utah: 30% projected growth
  • Florida: 27.3% projected growth
  • Colorado: 26.4% projected growth

Most training and development specialist positions require a bachelor's degree. Candidates who earned their degree in a discipline of education, human resources, computer science, instructional design or mass communication may have an advantage over those with degrees in unrelated fields of study.

Certification is not always required to work as a training and development specialist, but certification can demonstrate a level of skill and commitment that employers may favor. Several associations, including the American Society for Training and Development and the International Society for Performance Improvement, offer credentialing opportunities for dedicated training and development specialists.

Sources:

Long Term Occupational Projections for Training and Development Specialists, Projections Central,
http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm

Occupational Employment and Wages: Training and Development Specialists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, April 1, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131151.htm

Training and Development Specialists, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-2015 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/training-and-development-specialists.htm

Cost of Living Data Series: Third Quarter 2014, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri Department of Economic Development,
http://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/index.stm