In every industry, employers face the ongoing challenges of training new workers and developing new skills in established personnel to meet the needs of evolving business situations. While some companies include these tasks under the job duties of administrative or human resources generalist workers, others have full-time employees devoted to this role. Training and development specialists – and, at the supervisory level, training and development managers – are the workers responsible for creating or curating and administering training programs, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). To work in training and development, you need a bachelor’s degree. Potential majors range from the specialized, like training and development degrees and instructional design degrees, to the general, like education and human resources.
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Training and Development Degree Programs
In a degree program in organizational training and development, students should expect to study career development, the link between education and the labor force, adult learning methods and the foundations of work education. Coursework in instructional methods, curriculum development, occupational analysis and the assessment of workforce education needs and learner performance help aspiring training and development specialists cultivate skills specific to the field.
Students also learn about technical communication and training systems management, which is important since many training programs include an online or technological component.
Degrees in Instructional Design
Instructional design is another specialized field, one which focuses on the creation of effective learning materials. Bachelor’s degree programs in instructional design often include coursework in the principles of instructional design, how the brain learns, instructional design and assessment of online learning, collaboration in face-to-face and virtual classroom settings and learning assessment. Studies in adult learning and project management as it pertains to instructional design are particularly valuable for students who wish to leverage their education in the field of workforce development. By the time students complete their degree, they should have a strong understanding of current issues in education and educational technology as well as advanced concepts and applications in instructional design.
Bachelor’s degree programs in instructional design are often part of a college or department of education rather than business. Because these programs might not include core business coursework, using electives to take business classes is recommended.
Education Degrees for Workforce Training and Development
Although you may not be planning to work in a K-12 school setting, as a training and development specialist, your primary job role is to teach workers the skills they need for their careers. Education can be an acceptable major for aspiring training and development specialists, but it is important to choose a program that will be relevant to your career interests. Education degree programs routinely require students to choose a grade level, such as early childhood education, elementary education, middle school education or high school education. Since these programs are tailored toward the educational needs of children and adolescents, much of what they convey may not be useful or appropriate for an audience of working adults.
If you choose the education degree route to prepare to work in training and development, a program that focuses on adult education is likely to be your best option. Coursework is likely to include the fundamentals of learning styles, adult learning theory, instructional design strategies and process, learning assessments and instructional methods used in face-to-face and electronic learning environments.
About 10 percent of training and development specialists work in the industry of educational services, according to the BLS.
Human Resources Degrees
Workforce training and development generally falls under the domain of human resources work. For some aspiring training and development specialists, majoring in human resources offers more versatility in terms of career options along with a broader range of knowledge in the HR field. Coursework in an undergraduate human resources program might include labor relations, employment law, domestic and global human resources management, organizational culture, compensation management and management theory. Classes in employee training and development will be particularly valuable, but coursework in hiring employees and administering benefits programs will be less relevant to the goal of becoming a training and development specialist.
While training and development, instructional design, adult education and HR are the preferred majors for this career, candidates can also become training and development specialists with degrees in business administration or psychology, the BLS reported.