A Day in the Life of a Training Specialist
Training is one of many specialized subdivisions in the field of human resources. While human resource managers typically deal with things like staffing and personnel issues, total quality management, recruiting, and hiring and firing of employees, a training specialist’s job is much more defined within the field. A training specialist is, essentially, exactly what it sounds like: A person who offers training in a job-specific area. While training in new technologies is understandably seeing unprecedented popularity, training specialists don’t just teach people how to post and download files to their LAN and understand their computer networks. Currently, companies are having training specialists focus on specific areas of technical knowledge or on-the-job capabilities needed for particular positions. These skills include computer applications, phone systems, product assembly, policies and procedures, and inventory planning. Training specialists present information, direct structured learning experiences, and manage group discussions and group services. They are teachers for professionals. Like anyone in the field of human resources, a training specialist is required to possess excellent interpersonal and communications skills and is expected to increase the skills, productivity, and quality of work among trainees.
To achieve these goals, training specialists plan, organize, and implement a wide range of training activities for both new hires and veteran employees. They conduct orientation sessions and arrange on-the-job training for new hires. They conduct workshops and arrange training for veteran employees, targeting skills that need improving or helping them prepare for jobs requiring greater skill. Some companies have training specialists devise programs that develop executive potential in lower-level employees, “grooming” them for a higher profile job.
To come up with development programs and plans that address the needs of the company, training specialists must identify and assess the training needs within the company. To do so, trainers meet with managers and supervisors and even conduct surveys. They also have to evaluate training effectiveness and be ready with alternative ideas if they are not seeing the necessary improvement.
The methods a trainer uses depend on the size and nature of the organization’s goals. For the most part, training methods include on-the-job training, classroom training, apprenticeship training, monitored simulations or problem-solving scenarios, and programmed instruction that can involve interactive, multimedia instructional technologies. According to the American Society for Training and Development, traditional workshop and classroom work is being replaced by modular training in short, flexible courses focused on specific needs. It is common for trainers to utilize the new technologies that they are teaching about in the actual training sessions.
Paying Your Dues
Applicants for jobs in the field of human resources must hold bachelor’s degrees. If trainers are seeking managerial spots or consulting practice, a master’s degree is beneficial, if not required. It is a good idea to have both academic expertise and experience in your field if you want to be a training specialist. For instance, a trainer in charge of computer literacy would have an advantage with a degree in computer science, but since strong communications and interpersonal skills are also required, degrees in English, psychology, and business are also highly regarded. Professional education is also a benchmark for trainers since they are going to be responsible for the professional education of numerous employees over the course of their careers.
Present and Future
Thirty years ago, an employee might have thought of a training specialist as the person who teaches you how to use the phone system on your first day of work. That has changed a lot, especially with the advent of the computer as a common workplace tool. The boom in new technologies invading the workplace has forced employers to make sure that their employees are not behind the learning curve when it comes to mastering and effectively using these efficiency-enhancing technologies. Enter the training specialist to fill the gap between workplace demands and the technical expertise of the work force itself. More than 70 percent of management positions today require computer literacy, and a working knowledge of Internet and Intranet protocols. Multimedia platforms and high-tech communications are becoming requisites for many employees in corporations both large and small. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the number of workers who use computers has jumped from 25 percent in 1984 to 46 percent today. The need for computer literacy for managers and other professionals rose 35 percent between 1990 and 1993. As such, training specialists are in demand even as corporate downsizing eliminates many other human resource positions.
Quality of Life
PRESENT AND FUTURE
Training specialists will be expected to learn company protocols and the intricacies of their human resources department inside and out so that they may apply them to their training and developmental plans. The integration of a specific corporate philosophy into a developmental plan can be difficult for new trainers, but they are usually supervised by an HR director who provides assistance. Education and degree level make a difference early, and those without a bachelor’s degree will find themselves starting at a salary below $30,000, whereas those with a doctorate in their specific field can expect to start at or above $34,000.
FIVE YEARS OUT
Five years of experience will definitely help not only your bank account but also your choice of career track. A training specialist who, through professional education and experience, has established expertise in developing successful training programs can become a training material development specialist commanding a $42,000 salary. It is important to note that with the rapid pace of changing technologies in the workplace, any training specialist is going to have to keep up his expertise and anticipate what trends he will need to address in the workplace to secure employment.
TEN YEARS OUT
Some training specialists go on to become training directors for all sorts of companies, attaining an average $68,000 annual income. Many others have moved on to related careers in the HR field. Still others have established private practices, working as consultants to large corporations who don’t have full-time training specialists. Training specialists who have become consultants depend on a good track record of success, connections, and cutting edge development programs that attract fast track companies.