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Careers in Learning and Development: What’s Possible?

careers in learning and development

Have you ever found yourself looking at careers in learning and development, but aren’t sure what jobs there are in the field? Or maybe you are a K-12 teacher and want to transfer your skills to the adult learning space?  This blog post shares some of the roles, potential titles, and questions to ask yourself and a potential employer as you get started. 

Roles & Titles in Learning & Development

There are many different roles that can be classified as “in learning and development” and sometimes it can be helpful to know some of the options before narrowing down a path you may like to explore. You may see a lot of discussions on LinkedIn and elsewhere about what these roles should be called. The reality is that the titles that go with a career in learning & development can often be misleading. 

The table below shows a group of typical titles on the left followed by the levels on the right. When you seek out a job in corporate training, you will be challenged to learn what each role means and what the level means about the position’s level in the organization.

You can take almost any of the titles on the left and combine them with a level on the right to create a position that you might see in learning & development.

Learning and DevelopmentCoordinator
Talent DevelopmentManager
Employee DevelopmentLeader
Organizational DevelopmentAdministrator
Training DevelopmentStrategist
LMS (Learning Management System)Designer
Learning ExperienceDeveloper
Project Manager
Program Manager

Or you may see titles without a levels such as:

  • Instructional Designer
  • Instructional Technologist
  • Curriculum Developer
  • Training Facilitator
  • Business Partner

The Story Learning & Development Titles Tell

Many of those titles will give you clues about the work and should tell you whether they are a good fit or not. For example, if the role has facilitator or trainer in the title, you are likely to be leading in person or virtual training sessions. If the title includes LMS, you’ll likely be managing some portion of the elearning process and support of end users. Which parts of the LMS you manage will depend on the organization. It could include support of learners, reporting, course creation directly in the LMS, course uploading and more. 

Titles including Instructional Design, Learning Experience Design, Curriculum Development or Training Development are likely to mean that you are writing/designing training. If the title includes Elearning Developer then you are probably building elearning. Titles including Manager likely mean you would be managing either a program, project or people. In others, the expectation is to use the latest elearning development tools.

Beyond the title, you will of course want to look at the job description. Even more important may be to see what other job descriptions exist in the organization. If you are the first person being hired into a Learning & Development team your role as an Instructional Designer will look very different than if you are an Instructional Designer joining a team with instructional designers, graphic designers, and elearning developers.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Some key questions to ask yourself as you are considering a career in learning and development: 

  • Do I prefer to work in a collaborative environment with others on a team? Or as more of an individual contributor?
  • Do I prefer to work directly with clients and stakeholders? Or do I prefer to do the work that a colleague may share with clients and stakeholders? 
  • Do I prefer to work primarily sitting at a desk? Or do I want a job where I am on my feet and moving around?
  • Am I interested in learning the latest technology? Or do I prefer to beget really skilled at specific technologies even if they may be dated?
  • Would I prefer to work internal to an organization or external to an organization? (Working external likely means you work with several different companies either at the same time or over time.)
  • Do I want to focus on one particular area of expertise, or be responsible for several areas of expertise?

Questions to Ask a Potential Employer

Because there are a lot of generic learning and development or training roles, it doesn’t matter as much what your title is. What matters more is the work that you will do in that role. It can be important to ask good questions when interviewing or vetting potential positions. Here are some things to consider asking:

  • Where in the organization does this role report? (Sometimes L&D people are interspersed within a company, sometimes it’s its own department, other times L&D sits within Human Resources, Operations, Talent Management, or Organizational Development.)
  • What part of the organization does this role support? (Will your work be focused on just one topic or department or client group? Or will it be varied?)
  • Who are the clients and stakeholders that I will be working with?
  • What is the type of work I would be doing?
  • What is the culture of the team or organization?

One of the wonderful things about the field of L&D is that there is a large variety of jobs, roles, and skills needed; which means there is space for everyone!

If you want these questions in an easy to use format, click the button below to download the What’s Possible in L&D Worksheet.

If you’re new the field of L&D or are ready to make the transition into an L&D career, the L&D Pro Academy has a Fundamentals of L&D course that is designed to help you build the skills you need to be successful and feel confident in your new role.

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