The training and e-learning industry has never been a more exciting field to work in than in this day and age. First of all, working in a technology-related industry—and let’s face it, e-learning is technology!—is a great thing. Technology is a booming, growing industry that is ever-changing and evolving, providing job variety as well as the opportunity to constantly learn new things.
Before the age of the Internet, training was mostly face-to-face and classroom based. But now, with globalization, increased access to the Internet, and exciting new possibilities, training departments are hotbeds of technology, adapting new trends like gamification and data analytics.
For these reasons and more, it’s easy to get excited about a career in training and e-learning design.
Today I want to highlight some of the common job titles in today’s training and e-learning industries. Keep in mind, there are always nuances at each organization about job titles and the job functions they actually represent. The definitions below are simply a general idea of what each job title could entail.
AKA: Facilitator, Teacher
What do trainers do? Simply put, they deliver instructor-led training—which could be in a classroom or, nowadays, virtually. Being a trainer requires more than just passing along information. Trainers are the ones who present instructional content (designed by instructional designers), administer activities, and provide feedback to learners.
To be an effective trainer, you need to be comfortable speaking in front of groups, and it helps to be a confident, dynamic, and engaging person. You should have strong communication skills and a knack for sharing information with learners in a concise and efficient way. If you have any doubts, there’s a whole industry dedicated to training trainers on how to train! Two other key skills are time management and adaptability, which means being able to adjust your material or delivery on the fly to meet a group’s learning needs. And if you’re a virtual trainer, it’s important to have technology skills, like experience using web-conferencing software.
AKA: Training Designer, Instructional Systems Designer, Curriculum Designer
Instructional designers (IDs) design training experiences. Whether the requirement is an instructor-led classroom training session, a one-hour e-learning module, or a single-page job aid, the ID needs to have the skill set to transform raw source content into a meaningful and effective training solution. The output of an ID’s work varies depending on the type of training experience they are creating—if they are designing an e-learning course, the output will likely be a storyboard document, which is often passed along to a developer to create the content. On the other hand, if the ID is designing a classroom-based training activity or a simple job aid, they might develop those training materials themselves and then pass them on directly to the trainer for delivery.
What skill set do you need to be a successful ID? You should be familiar with adult learning principles, learning theories, and instructional methodologies and models, such as ADDIE and Kirkpatrick’s Levels of Evaluation. Since there’s a lot of writing involved in creating training materials, you should also strive to be a clear and effective writer. You also need to be analytical, logical, organized, and creative.
AKA: Multimedia Developer, E-Learning Designer, Course Developer
The e-learning developer takes the instructionally designed raw materials (typically a storyboard or Word document) created by the instructional designer and develops them into a functional online course using e-learning authoring software. Depending on the level of detail the ID includes in their storyboard, the developer may or may not need to make some visual design and content layout decisions. They might also be the point person to replace any placeholder content (such as images or videos) and provide the final content.
The e-learning developer’s skill set, ideally, would include strong experience using e-learning authoring software, a certain level of graphic and visual design abilities, an ability to manage timelines and due dates, and a level of comfort working with audio and video technologies.
AKA: Training Systems Administrator, Training Implementation Specialist
An LMS administrator uploads and tests the e-learning courses created by the e-learning developer in a company’s learning management system (LMS). This specialist also manages all tasks related to the LMS, including communicating with the software vendor, troubleshooting and fixing user issues, compiling reports and data, and communicating about performance metrics.
What skills should an LMS admin possess? He or she should be a subject matter expert (SME) on the LMS platform an organization uses, have strong technical capabilities, and hopefully some experience in IT systems management. An LMS admin should also have in-depth knowledge of industry-standard publishing formats such as SCORM and AICC. And, it doesn’t hurt to have experience uploading courses created with the authoring software being used by the organization.
AKA: Training Coordinator, Manager of Training and Development
The training manager designs, develops, and executes an organization’s training strategy (which is usually developed by the director of training). They typically work with internal stakeholders and teams to develop training programs that align with the organization’s business goals. They will also identify training and developmental needs by analyzing job requirements, operational opportunities, and current training programs. After completing this research, they analyze the data and use a metrics-driven approach to develop training solutions and learning initiatives. Often, they will oversee other members of the training team, including the IDs, developers, and trainers.
A training manager’s skill set should include the ability to manage a team, timelines, and projects. He or she should be well-versed in instructional design methodologies, performance management, needs analyses, and adult learning techniques to develop appropriate training programs as required.
Director of Training
AKA: Director of Learning, Chief Learning Officer, Director of Talent Development
The director of training is a step above the manager of training. Directors are at the top of the chain; they provide the vision and direction for the training department and then oversee the managers as they execute the training strategy. Directors must think about the future of an organization, its assets, and its reputation with every decision they make.
A director’s skill set should include leadership skills, broad knowledge of the industry at hand, a deep understanding of instructional design and learning methodologies, performance analysis skills, experience creating learning and development programs, and strong communication skills.
These are some of the most common job titles in the training and e-learning industry. Of course, plenty of jobs out there include a blend of the various roles. For instance, we see a lot of IDs who are also e-learning developers or trainers, and some training managers who act as directors, setting the training strategy. It really varies from one organization to another.
Is your job title listed here? Does the description above accurately reflect what you do and the skills you believe are required to do it? Leave me a comment below and let me know!
Follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.