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Training Career: The Long and Winding Road

By Alex Blyth

Where can a training career lead? Often along some diverting paths, but usually to the position of training manager. Once there, the sky can be the limit, with huge salaries – and perks – on offer

Many careers follow a structured path. But not for training professionals, whose careers tend to take the scenic route. For example, there are as many ways into the role of training manager as there are different job descriptions for the role.

Corinne Dauncey, managing director of recruitment website TipTopJob, has recruited many training managers and offers this description: "It involves managing the training and development of the workforce within an organisation. A training manager will devise programmes and sometimes they will carry out the training themselves. It involves budgeting, analysing needs, communicating plans, and measuring success.

The working hours are normally office hours, Monday to Friday, and the job tends to involve a lot of travel. Generally speaking, pay starts at £20,000 and can reach £100,000 for the most experienced."

Branching out

The role of training manager can be a springboard to many other areas. It can lead into a human resources role, or to a senior management position which involves a high level of staff development. Some training managers decide to branch out on their own.

Paul Hayden was the training manager at financial services company Allied Dunbar for several years before joining training consultancy Tack as associate trainer. He says: "I enjoy delivering training, working with a great range of people and seeing the impact on people and businesses. Running my own consultancy means I can keep doing this."

Finding a training manager vacancy is the easy part. You can look at online jobs boards, particularly the specialist personnel or HR ones. Personneltoday.com and website Trainingzone carry many vacancies. There are also specialist agencies such as TipTopJob, Michael Page and Hudson. But getting the training manager job you want is an altogether more challenging task.

While there no single route into this role, Belinda Stephenson, training manager at mobile phone firm T-Mobile, is a typical example. She started at the company in 1993 during a work placement from her business studies degree. Once she had graduated in 1996 she went back as an HR administrator, and then, having acquired the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's Certificate and Advanced Certificate in Online Learning, she became a training manager.

"My advice to anyone who wants to become a training manager," she says, "is that experience counts for a great deal in this job." That is not to say that qualifications are irrelevant, she adds.

Marc Sellis, head of training services at Thales Training and Consultancy, agrees. He says that, while many companies will expect a degree – and CIPD certification is also useful – relevant experience often counts for just as much as these qualifications.

"You need a mixture of qualifications and experience to become a training manager," he says.

Informal training

Scott Beaty, learning services global practice leader at Shell International, recruits and manages many training managers.

"There isn't much formal education for these roles," he admits. "Those who work for me tend to have trained people elsewhere and so already have the competencies. Diagnostic and leadership skills are often as important as technical training skills."

Often, experienced employees in a particular field find themselves training colleagues, and they enjoy it, so end up doing it full time. Richard Welch is technical training and development manager for VW Group in the UK, but for most of his career, he has worked in purchasing.

"You don't need a specific set of qualifications to become a training manager," he says. "You do need skills, experience and a large helping of common sense."

Case study

David Morris started working part-time for McDonald's in 1989 while studying at university in Glasgow. He moved up through the company, spending 10 years as a business manager, before becoming the company's first full-time training officer in Scotland in 1998. In 2002, he moved back into operations and in 2004 was appointed national training manager, based at McDonald's Hamburger University in London.

His day-to-day responsibilities include: management of the national training department; development of training and development strategies; supervising the training, design, and delivery of teams; meeting with senior McDonald's management on a regular basis to discuss needs; and sitting on European and global training boards.

He says the total package for the average training and development manager ranges from 60,000 to 80,000. His other benefits include a company car, pension, private healthcare, paid sabbaticals, share options and a bonus scheme. In terms of the future, he says: "My role can lead to all sorts of possibilities – one of our current regional vice-presidents was a training and development manager just a few years ago."

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