Janet Clarey wrote a piece about “Learning Professionals” in her blog recently, and as coincidental as it may seem I have had this post title saved in a draft for some time as the same question has been lurking around my noggin for some time.
I’ve been called a lot of things in my life and some of which I cannot share here. My jobs began as Busboy, Dishwasher, Shoe Salesman, Gas Station Attendant, Pizza Delivery Driver, and Lifeguard. Fairly straight forward titles and it doesn’t take a whole lot of thought to have an idea what those job actually do. The problem now lies in what we call career titles, especially in the world of Training & Development.
I started in this industry as a Training Analyst. I really dislike spreadsheets and after 10 minutes I go to sleep if I have to crunch numbers. My friend and then boss said it was simply an opening in the department, but the vision was to develop a new strategy to move us to the next level…that was 5 years ago and three job titles later. Each new title was a promotion, but because the “new” title didn’t exist, we had to write its job description and develop new competencies.
- Training Analyst
- Training Specialist II
- Training Technology Specialist
- LMS Administrator
Wanna know what my title is in the big HRIS system in the sky? It is still Training Specialist II.
Janet talks about how she was mocked for writing a paper with the title “Learning Professionals.” When I read her blog about how often she has used that term, it donned on me that I am guilty of the exact same thing. I am guilty of picking up the latest ‘zinger’, ‘tag line’, or ‘phrase’ so I can sound all professional and such.
Not sure if it is a problem in this industry or just a challenge we are all working to overcome. For instance, what’s the difference between an Instructional Designer vs. an Instructional Technologist? Does one spend a larger percentage of time on the “look and feel” of instruction where as the other spends more time on code? My bet is they do a balance of both.
Who in this industry is (if at all) responsible for giving “Learning Professionals” proper titles to choose from? I’ve searched the ASTD database, eLearning Guild’s database, and several others, and there or very few titles out there that are actually titled “LMS Administrator.” Each company puts their own spin on their internal titles yet in the end it’s all the same competencies. It is real hard to keep one’s finger on the pulse in the job market.
When I began working in this role, there was a team of Instructional Designers. I have always liked that title the best – a ‘designer’ of ‘instruction’ – not much confusion there. I am an illustrator/artist by youth and every time I see or hear the term ‘designer,’ I assume anyone with that name in their title should have some fundamental ‘design’ principles. I learned very quickly that design is much more than eye candy. But again, I was looking through a silo perspective that design involved color, layout, imagery, etc. Not the case at all.
As time went on we realized our ID’s were in fact managing entire projects. From the ID’s initial consulting with customers all the way through developing a course, workshop, or eLearning. We decided to change their titles, too…Training Project Managers. Now that’s a very simple straight forward title that doesn’t leave much out as to what someone would do with a title like that. Not. They not only manage entire training projects, they design and develop the entire project, too! Their skills must include project managment, writing, layout & design, development, and good understanding how an LMS operates. Maybe we should look at their titles again – Instructional Training Project Design & Development Administrative Managers!
Or maybe just one big blanket title for all of us….”Gurus of Training!”