Gaining Experience in Corporate Training

Anonymous writes:
I am a college graduate (psych major) with experience as an administrative assistant in human resources and sales. I want to become a corporate trainer and organizational development specialist. I know there are graduate degrees offered in this field. What’s concerning me is that all the want ads I’ve read for training positions specify a four-year degree and 1-3 years experience in the field.
How do I pursue a job which only requires an undergrad degree but expects candidates to already have the appropriate experience?
Thank you for your help!

The Career Doctor responds:
One of the purposes of graduate study of course is to prepare you for work in a specific area. Thus one of your options is certainly to attend a graduate program to gain the necessary education and expertise in the field. And a graduate degree is especially helpful for a career changer that is making a move from a staff position to a professional position.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook “training specialists plan organize and direct a wide range of training activities. Trainers conduct orientation sessions and arrange on-the-job training for new employees. They help rank-and-file workers maintain and improve their job skills and possibly prepare for jobs requiring greater skill.”
Read more here.
Another good source for you may be the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). According to its Website “ASTD is the world’s premier professional association and leading resource on workplace learning and performance issues.” The ASTD site has a lot of great resource related to corporate training including job and career resources and advice. The organization also offers a Human Performance Improvement Certificate Program which may be an alternative to a graduate degree.
My best advice — before you make any further decisions — is to not let the job ads dictate your next move. Instead start building a network in the training and OD field. Conduct some informational interviews with professional trainers; contact your alma mater and talk with a management professor who specializes in OD; join a ASTD or some other professional association; attend a conference.
Find more strategies and directions for making a career change in my article The 10-Step Plan to Career Change.
Learn more about informational interviews by going to the Quintessential Careers Informational Interviewing Tutorial.
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